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The Chick-fil-A withdrawal plan: 15-plus tasty alternatives to the anti-gay chicken

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You can do better than Chick-fil-A.
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Wings and pancakes at The Breakfast Klub Photo by Ronald S. Woan/Flickr
Smashburger, Smashchicken sandwich, chicken
Smashburger's Smashchicken sandwich Smashburger/Facebook
Popeye's chicken, fried chicken
Popeye's chicken Social Diets
Chick-fil-A, sign
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Smashburger, Smashchicken sandwich, chicken
Popeye's chicken, fried chicken
Sarah Rufca, Column Mug, head shot, USE THISJune 2012

In the week since Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy incurred wrath by saying that gay marriage "invites God's judgment" and that those who support it are "prideful" and "arrogant," I've been doing a lot of fried chicken sandwich soul-searching.

It's not exactly been a secret that the company and its founders have conservative Christian beliefs and donate money to anti-gay organizations, and I've been guiltily enjoying the chicken biscuits for years. (Have you ever driven up hungover only to find the parking lot deserted because it's Sunday? That's a rough moment I call the Drive of Shame.)

So maybe it's time that Chick-fil-A and I take a little break. But fried chicken at any time? That's a love that will never die.

 Maybe it's time that Chick-fil-A and I take a little break. But fried chicken at any time? That's a love that will never die. 

So here's your guide to find some Chick-fil-A-style favorites and some new and awesome alternatives. No waiting until Monday when you need a chicken fix is just a bonus.

It's a different style of sandwich, but when it comes to fried chicken on bread, there's nothing better than the fried chicken po' boy at Calliope's Po-Boy in EaDo. If you are looking for something with a little more heat, the spicy crisp chicken sandwich from Cliff's brings it with pepper jack cheese and chipotle mayo.

While the flavor profile might be a little different, I'm also slightly obsessed with the buffalo chicken sandwich at Smashburger, which combines a juicy fried chicken patty, bleu cheese, Frank's RedHot sauce, lettuce and tomato on the chain's signature egg bun.

Or go for something totally different, like the buttermilk-fried chicken and waffle from The Waffle Bus — they even have (duh) waffle fries.

I'm not entirely clear on whether anyone actually eats grilled chicken sandwiches at Chick-fil-A (If you do: Why? Why do you want to come so close to happiness and then turn away?), but Becks Prime has a whole grilled chicken sandwich section of the menu and for another drive-thru friendly option the version at W Grill gets high marks.

Or upgrade from fast food to fast casual and check out the juicy chicken sandwich at Paulie's.

Chick-fil-A's nuggets are tough to imitate (even chef Hugh Acheson has admitted to making them a guilty pleasure), but you could always try Popeye's, or head to Raising Cane's, which sells chicken strips and only chicken strips, albeit versions with plenty of thick, crispy breading. Better than either of these are the chicken fingers baskets at Mia's Table, especially since they are served with an intensely appealing jalepeño cream gravy.

For waffle fries, brand-new burger joint Refinery makes a version that is way better than any place with a drive-thru. They're about the same size and dimensions as Chick-fil-A's but without those sad bottom-of-the-barrel rejects. Southwell's has also been making solid waffle fries for years (as well as many other things on this list), or you could give up on the basket weave and appreciate solid straight versions at places like Little Big's and Niko Niko's.

When it comes to fried chicken on a biscuit in the morning, there's only one feasible substitute: The honey butter chicken biscuit from Whataburger, though I order mine light on both the honey and the butter.

If you have more time, you could always hit The Breakfast Klub for some wings and waffles. It's not the same thing, but it will make you happy.

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