Slideshow: Deep Fried Chicago: Joe Roy's Deep Fried Year in Review

Crisp BBQ Fried Chicken from Crisp ($8.95 for a half chicken)
Crisp BBQ Fried Chicken from Crisp ($8.95 for a half chicken)
I know that I said I wouldn't choose a favorite, but you twisted my arm. That the chicken itself is crispy, crackly, and low on grease is in itself a revelation; but of all the sauces available at this Lakeview spot, the Crisp BBQ is the one I'm going to crave. Smoky, peppery, and complex, I may just have to start carrying reserves of this sauce for dousing subpar fried chicken from now on. Read more here >>
Hackney's Original French Fried Onions from Hackney's Printers Row ($7.25)
Hackney's Original French Fried Onions from Hackney's Printers Row ($7.25)
Credibility out the door, I still get a hankering for the bloomin' onions of my youth. But whether from Texas Roadhouse or Outback Steakhouse, they never live up to my memories: greasy, limp exterior onion petals give way to under or not at all cooked interior petals. The acrid dipping sauce doesn't help, either. After a truly horrendous version from a north side bar I will graciously spare the shame of outing, I thought onion blossoms would remain mired in the past. Turns out I just wasn't thinking fourth dimensionally. Hackney's Original French Fried Onions may come in the shape of a brick, but their thin sliced, uniformly breaded, and miraculously crisp even to the center fried specimens reinvented the bloomin' onion wheel before it was even conceived. Add to the fact that the homemade "Awesome Sauce" is a more than worthy dip, and you have the best tasting paradox this side of 1955. Read more here >>
Dry Chili Fish Filet from Lao Hunan ($14.50)
Dry Chili Fish Filet from Lao Hunan ($14.50)
Though given some serious competition by its vegetal counterpart—the Hunan-style Crispy Eggplant—the Dry Chili Fish Filet from Lao Hunan will always be my one true love. Meaty, crispy batter; an oft-maligned fish elevated to one-time greatness; and the fact that my three-year-old daughter requests this dish by name: what's not to love? So many bonus points that the fish also goes surprisingly well with tartar sauce. Read more here >>
Fried Shrimp from Redhot Ranch ($7.73)
Fried Shrimp from Redhot Ranch ($7.73)
I go to Redhot Ranch when I want a properly prepared hot dog and fries, hold the fuss. But when I go with someone with money burning a hole in their pocket, I sweet talk them into splitting a half pound of fried shrimp with me. A relative newcomer to the stand game, I haven't come across a version from any of the fried shrimp dinosaurs that's this good. Maybe it's time I start saving my pennies to make this a more often repeated order. Read more here >>
Fried Perch from Harold's Chicken Shack in Wicker Park ($6.25 for a small)
Fried Perch from Harold's Chicken Shack in Wicker Park ($6.25 for a small)
After eating my way though sixteen restaurants' worth of fried fish for our Lenten Fried Fish Survival Guide, I feel confident enough to speak in superlatives. The fried perch from Harold's Chicken Shack in Wicker Park is the best perch I've ever had, and the best thing this Catholic Northeastern Indiana boy could find to compare to the fish fries of his youth. Make yourself a batch of homemade tartar sauce, and get a head start on Lent ASAP. Read more here >>
Fried Pickles from Lillie's Q ($5.00)
Fried Pickles from Lillie's Q ($5.00)
I was hooked on deep fried pickle chips after my first bite. But once I tried the battered, crunchy spears from Lillie's Q, I eschewed those chips as fast as I could. While chips keep their dill flavor, they tend to lose that characteristic crunch that makes pickles so appealing. Not so with these spears: amped dill flavor, maximum juicy crunch, and homemade ranch dressing to boot? If you forgot that Lillie's Q also serves pretty respectable barbecue, you certainly wouldn't be the only one. Read more here >>
Greg's Deep Fried Cheese Curds from The Fifty/50 ($8.00)
Greg's Deep Fried Cheese Curds from The Fifty/50 ($8.00)
I'll be damed if it isn't next to impossible to get a great cheese curd in Chicago (and for that matter, in Milwaukee—what am I doing wrong, people?). But from here on out, I'll be bemoaning this fact over a plate of Greg's Deep Fried Cheese Curds. Though not as crispy as other versions, this probably contributes to their brilliance: less time in the deep fryer means less browning for the tender oyster cracker breading and more attention on the squeaky, tangy curds themselves. Read more here >>
Ceci e Fave from J.P. Graziano Grocery Co., Inc. (7.95/lb in bulk)
Ceci e Fave from J.P. Graziano Grocery Co., Inc. (7.95/lb in bulk)
I never dreamed I'd find a fried dish from my favorite sandwich place, J.P. Graziano. But there these coconut oil fried chickpeas and fava beans were, sitting in a dish by the front counter. As a general rule, I like to avoid my worlds colliding, but I tend to make exceptions when it tastes this good. Read more here >>