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Where to celebrate National Fried Chicken Day in Petaluma

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The rooster may crow, but the hen delivers, however, in celebration of National Fried Chicken Day, July 6, it is the hen herself, and not her eggs, which Petalumans are craving. Whether on its own, in a sandwich, or atop a waffle, the restaurants of our beloved “Egg Capital” know how to put the chicken before the egg, offering a variety of chicken for everyone’s plate and palette.

Fried chicken traces its roots to Scotland and West Africa. The Scottish were the first Europeans to fry chicken in fat, although without seasoning, while numerous West African cultures seasoned and battered their chicken before cooking. The two techniques came together in the American South, to give us what is known as “Southern fried chicken” or simply “fried chicken,” depending on where you live.

Here is a list of my favorite fried chicken options around Petaluma.

Fried chicken

One of Petaluma’s best is the fried chicken dinner at Rosen’s 256 North. Chef John House’s “secret” Sous-vide, which has the chicken vacuum sealed in a pouch and cooked in a water bath for an extended period of time, before being flash fried. This method ensures proper cooking throughout, without any loss of moisture. The truffle honey and grilled lemons are a nice touch, but the bed of sweet corn puree really elevates this excellent fried chicken to a higher plain. Additionally, the portion size has me in leftovers for days after each visits.

Although they serve much more than just chicken, Chicken Pharm certainly puts chicken center stage, starting with locally raised, free range, non-GMO chicken. They offer buttermilk fried two and five pieces meals, bite-sized popcorn chicken, served with honey Sriracha and Point Reyes blue cheese dip, and sweet and savory chicken and cornmeal waffles, served with maple syrup and orange mascarpone butter.

My favorite is the ever-popular Kimchicken sandwich, which is topped with kimchi and gojichang (a red-chili paste) and served on a sweet King’s Hawaiian roll. For something a bit more healthy, you can top the Keller Street Caesar with fried chicken.

Pub Republic holds the distinction of offering fried chicken in all three forms, depending on which menu you find yourself indulging in. Whether it’s the fried chicken atop egg-battered Texas toast, with crispy bacon and maple syrup, the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, topped with chipotle sour cream and their signature slaw, or the buttermilk fried chicken and mashed potatoes, seasoned with Cajun spices and Red Eye Andouille sausage gravy, Pub Republic always satisfies a fried chicken craving.

Brewster’s chef and co-owner Chris Beerman has fried chicken in his blood. Paying homage to his grandfather, who owned and operated fried chicken joints throughout his home state, Brewster’s Carolina fried chicken, with buttermilk biscuit, sage honey, lemon, thyme, and country gravy has been a crowd favorite since they first opened.

Sax’s Joint, as always, serves up healthy portions and offers both delicious fried chicken as a main, as well as on top of a hearty waffle, with plenty of homemade jam for sweetening to taste. When on the menu, Wishbone’s fried chicken is always locally sourced, as is everything on their menu, and has a nice peppery kick. The Washoe House is also know to dish out excellent fried chicken.

One of Petaluma’s best-kept secrets is the pickle-brined fried chicken that is a staple at Petaluma Market’s “hot-to-go” food counter most days. Freshly fried throughout the day, the pickle brine adds something special to this affordable fried chicken option.

Sandwiches

The Bodega Sandwich was the first fried chicken sandwich to really catch my attention, and has had us returning to the Bodega – CA food truck ever since. Regularly found at The Block – Petaluma food truck round-up and beer garden, and at various food events around Petaluma, as well as being available for catering, Chef Matthew Elias’s buttermilk fried chicken, topped with smoky aioli and herb slaw is simple divine.

Often overlooked amid the plethora of new and trendy restaurants, it bears repeating that the kitchen at Petaluma stalwart, McNear’s Saloon, is led by the same chef who brings home multiple Petaluma People’s Choice awards for Seared each year. Chef Joe O’Donnell’s fried chicken anchors one of the best sandwiches in town, topped with buttermilk dressing, house-made pickles, and wrapped in a toasted brioche bun.

This rice-oil fried chicken sandwich easily lives up to McNear’s well-earned reputation for turning out celestial comfort foods, from angelic chicken fried steaks to heavenly corned beef. The fried chicken is also available in McNear’s tacos, which is an interesting, and delicious taco meat alternative.

Although not currently on their main menu, Crocodile’s incredible fried chicken paillard is always available during Happy Hour as a slider, which we have partaken of at least weekly since their Happy Hour started a couple months ago.

On the sweet side

The Pennsylvania Dutch are credited with introducing chicken and waffles in the mid-1800s, but it was not until The Maryland started serving them in Los Angeles in the 1940’s, followed by Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles in the 1970s, that Californians took to this specialty.

Chicken and waffles never really appealed to me until I finally tried it when Speakeasy started offering it on their brunch menu, and I have been enjoying it ever since, especially their offering with brown butter, bacon jam, and genuine maple syrup.

Nothing says “Southern” quite like deep-frying, and Petaluma’s ambassador of all things Southern is Chef Gator at Gator’s Rustic Burgers, where he offers an excellent variation of chicken and waffles, with a unique peach cobbler butter.

Nobody seems to know exactly how July 6 became National Fried Chicken Day, but then again, who really cares? So long as the chicken is crispy, tender, moist, and flavorful, there are plenty of good reasons to celebrate this year-round classic. And, although it may not be the healthiest thing on the menu, it is certainly good for the soul, and as always, when the celebration calls for delicious food, Petaluma chefs always deliver.