You know down home has gone haute when Travel + Leisure is compiling a list of of the best fried chicken joints in the country. And of course it wouldn't be a list worth its deep fryer without a couple Houston restaurants.
Barbecue Inn, the decades-old diner in the Heights with the misleading name, has earned its place representing Houston. Any time people will wait 25 minutes for their order (especially here, where the equally delicious and guilt-inducing chicken fried steak is a quicker option) you know they are doing something right. Whether it's the chatty waitresses or retro vibe — or as Travel + Leisure calls it, "an Edward Hopper dream with a Deep South spirit on the side," every local should hit Barbecue Inn at least once.
On the other end of the spectrum, Max's Wine Dive made the list — though the spin-off Austin location was cited (for geographical diversity, I'm sure). Here you are more likely to spend 25 minutes waiting for a table than an entree (unless you have a reservation, natch) — in other words, the kind of place that, until comfort food started to have its moment a few years ago, wouldn't have been caught dead serving the stuff.
Max's, in fact, was one of the first places in Houston to mix comfort food and classy surroundings, and still one of the best. The Southern fried chicken is battered in a just-hot-enough jalepeño and buttermilk marinade for up to 36 hours and served with a divine chipotle honey, mashed potatoes and Texas Toast. And yes, it's usually washed down with a nice shiraz.
Whatever your scene, it's nice to be reminded that Houston has the best fried chicken of both worlds.