I love it when food ends up tasting even better than I think it will be, and recently I stumbled upon some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever tried. It’s at Hearty’s. Made with a cornflake crust that’s light and crunchy, it’s a refreshing take on the traditional recipe.
I’ve made a haphazard study of sampling fried chicken when I see it on a menu and have enjoyed it at both The Southern and Chalkboard. It’s interesting to compare and contrast each restaurant’s idea of a chicken dinner. The Southern puts together the best meal as a whole, striking a chord with all the fixings prepared just right, and Chalkboard’s fried chicken and champagne pairing is a thing of beauty. But when it comes down to the chicken itself, Hardy’s is the winner hands down. That’s because the chicken is moist and flavorful and the breading complements it rather than drying out or dominating the dish.
Unfortunately, the side of turkey collared greens falls hopelessly short of the chicken it’s served with. There’s just no way that turkey can be what it needs to be to flavor a collared green. But the Dijon potato salad side also served was good.
My friend Jane and I liked the fried green tomato caprese starter we had, served with mozzarella and balsamic dressing. It too was a nice and successful twist on tradition, and I’ve found myself craving it since. The shrimp and grits, crab cake special, and mac and cheese were solid dishes as well, but nothing spectacular like the fried chicken. Still, it was all good enough to make me want to go back and try more.
If anything was a disappointment, it was the root beer float cupcake we had for dessert. The root beer flavored cake, filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with whipped cream and a cheery, was dry and over done. Creative? Yes. But it did nothing to impress this cupcake connoisseur.
It’s worth mentioning that the dining space at Hearty’s is teeny tiny, so you’ll likely strike up a conversation with neighboring tables. And there is no wheelchair accessible restroom, so I had to excuse myself from the table and journey to the Starbucks on the corner between courses. But upon my return, the food waiting for me was so tasty and fun to eat that the extra maneuvering was worth it.
3819 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60613