July 6 is National Fried Chicken Day. But really, any day is a good day to enjoy great fried chicken. So it only makes sense to try and find the best fried chicken in Chicago. Pursuing the best fried chicken will bring you to Max’s Wine Dive (1482 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in the heart of Wicker Park, off the Damen stop along the CTA Blue Line.
From the outside, Max’s looks like a simple restaurant that isn’t too flashy or over the top. Once inside, the laid-back atmosphere reinforces the quiet appeal. Max’s Wine Dive specializes in two things: wine and fried chicken. The restaurant has an impressive collection of wines from all around the world, such as the Argam Tempranillo from Spain and the Attilio Ghisolfi “Maggiora” Barbera D’Alba from Italy. The wait staff encourages diners to order a bottle for the table to then take home with them. But, for anyone under 21 (such as myself), it is the fried chicken that garners the most attention.
Especially on July 6, all of the staff were quick to recommend the fried chicken in honor of the holiday and I was happy to oblige. The dish is seventeen dollars but Max’s makes sure the price is justified. Max’s Wine Dive slow cooks its chicken for each order, so the wait staff warns customers that the wait will be longer but ensures that the food is worth it. After about half an hour after I placed my order, the plate was brought out. The presentation was nice and not too ornate. Three golden pieces of fried chicken were laid on top of collard greens and square potato fries with a piece of Texas toast and honey-chipotle dipping sauce on the side. After taking the first bite, it was clear: this is without a doubt the single most delicious piece of fried chicken I have ever tasted. There is no contest.
The chicken is juicy yet not overly greasy or messy. The unusual juxtapositions do not end there, though the flavor was both sweet and spicy thanks to the jalapeno-buttermilk breading. This combined tangy flavor was expertly balanced out by the sweet and cool honey-chipotle dipping sauce. Overall, the flavors blended perfectly to create a satisfying experience for the dish. Nobody who finds themselves in Wicker Park should pass up the opportunity to dine at Max’s. By providing four star food at a two star price while avoiding any hint of pretentiousness, the experience at Max’s Wine Dive is unparalleled.