Chicago: Harold's Chicken Shack

I had some pretty bad fried chicken yesterday, which led to a craving for Harold's. Harold's has the best fried chicken I've ever had. Hands down. Not only that, but since moving to Chicago, Harold's has been the one restaurant (if it can even be called that) that I have gone back to repeatedly. I just can't get enough of this place. does one describe the Harold's experience? Harold's Chicken Shack is one of those no-nonsense restaurants where the food is the only thing that matters. There's no public restrooms, no bags, no extra napkins...basically no service. The bullet-proof window at the cashier certainly adds to its charm:

I noticed today that there's a sign that says "No returns over 7 days". What people could possibly try to return at Harold's is beyond me. I'm not sure I want to know.

My roommate and I have come to Harold's so many times that we have developed a system: 1/4 dark, small gizzards, both salt & pepper, with a hot and a mild sauce on the side. Since I was flying solo today, I made do with the small gizzards, salt & pepper, mild sauce:

Just look at that. A pile of hot fries on a bed of fried gizzards, all smothered in a smoky barbecue sauce, and topped with two slices of white bread with a tiny cup of coleslaw tucked on the side. Usually I like my mild sauce on the side, but I guess the lady behind the glass didn't hear me...or she just didn't care. (Not that I'm complaining. Getting the sauce on the side is an extra 80 cents.)

Tip: the best way to eat Harold's is to make tiny sandwiches by tearing pieces of the bread, spreading some coleslaw on it, dipping a fry in the mild sauce, and wrapping it along with a piece of chicken (or gizzard) in the bread.

Harold's doesn't skimp on the food, so go hungry. And bring cash. You can find a Harold's just about anywhere in Chicago, but apparently the best one with the special barbecue sauce is on 63rd and Cottage Grove. I've yet to make it down there but it's definitely on my list.

Harold's Chicken Shack
1208 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 752-9260


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