For believers in the ‘eat-what-you-wish-the-rest-follows’ maxim, calorie counting is obviously not much on their mind. And if fried foodstuff is what you are hankering after, it is time to head to Harold’s Chicken Shack(s) in Chicago for, what is believed by many to be, the most scrumptious fried chicken in the world. There are 62 outlets of this Mecca for chicken lovers so finding one is no trouble at all. Just remember to ask for Harold’s, since hardly anyone seems to respond to its full name.
Harold’s is a fairly basic chicken joint when it comes to décor or service. It’s pretty much like a regular diner, more cramped than most and without table service. The color palette is red and white and the old furniture and walls do nothing to make it appear any more appealing. Overall the place looks quite old and run down; not dirty, just neglected. You have to place your order at one of the two counters and are served from behind a 4 inch thick bullet proof glass.
But nothing matters when your order arrives. This simple meal of juicy fried chicken is so delicious it makes up for all the discomfort at the outset. The chicken, dipped in seasoned flour, is fried in beef tallow. What’s seriously amazing is what you get on your plate is absolutely non-greasy, yet beautifully crunchy on the outside and succulent on the inside. And this description holds true for everything they serve, be it chicken wings, breast or the catfish. The fried meat comes with two slices of white bread and fries and popular hot sauce in your choice of hot or medium.
Harold’s Chicken Shack started with one tiny place in the south of Chicago and has now grown into a 62 outlet strong food chain. Yet this family owned enterprise has managed to keep its quality up to mark, never compromising on the food in spite of multiplying business pressures that most succumb to.
There are, however, a few aspects that the management might want to look into, such as the outlet interiors and staff manners; they are surly most of the time, barely smiling. Whatever happened to service with a smile?
Incidentally, President Barack Obama is quite fond of Harold’s. Apparently he ate here quite a lot in his bachelor days. When the President’s wife called his bachelor pad a ‘dump’ on television, he defended it by saying it was close to Harold’s. High praise, indeed – after all, that’s what really matters to a bachelor – great food, no matter what the condition of his home may have been. The President is given to normal human faults after all!
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