After spending time on Yelp and Urban Spoon - I decided it was an easy choice. Since 1938, a restaurant in Saratoga Springs has been serving southern fried chicken.
Really? In upstate New York.
Hattie's has been serving southern cooking in Saratoga Springs since 1938. Hattie herself has passed away, but a chef couple has taken over, and have earned the reputation as the best southern cooking on the East coast - as well as an aware from Food and Wine as the best fried chicken in America.
Really? In New York?
Hattie Gray was raised in Saint Francisville, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge somewhere around 1900.
Her life started as a caretaker for a wealthy family that would travel back and forth from Miami to Saratoga Springs. Hattie worked for them for many years before eventually settling on her own in Saratoga Springs to open up Hattie's Chicken shack in 1938.
In describing Saratoga in the late 30's and 40's, Hattie said "Saratoga was fast, man; it was real fast. It was up all night long." Hattie's was open 24 hours a day in those days of gambling, speakeasies, and smoky jazz clubs.
The restaurant serves each night from 5pm until 9pm. I arrived at 8:30 - and within minutes, had the entire restaurant to myself. It seems that "chicken eating people" are not late night owl people - at least on Thursday night.
I ordered the famous fried chicken plate. But first, I ordered a plate of fried okra.
My grandmother was a chicken farm. It was a tradition on Sunday's to always have fried chicken. Over the years, I have tried a lot of fried chicken. And in fact, a recipe of my own fried chicken, using the secret ingredient of cinnamon, has appeared in a newspaper.
And so, I had high expectations.
But I can tell you. This was the best fried chicken I have tasted in at least 5 years.
Hattie's fried chicken, with hand smashed potatoes and collard greens, spiked with maple syrup.
The manager of the restaurant told me the chicken is fried very simply. No buttermilk. Just a light breading, but "par-fried." The chicken is fried partially, and then left to sit for awhile before the second frying.
If you are ever in upstate New York - you have to try Hattie's and their wonderful chicken and food!
Fried Okra with a basil garlic aoli.
The okra was so prefectly cooked - with such a thin, yet crispy dusting of flour coating.