By Sarah Weakley
Growing up we each experience at least one family tradition that has been passed down from one generation to another. In the South, we are known for our traditions: church on Sunday, summertime weekends spent on the
water, or family reunions that each year seem to grow in size. In my experience, what anchors each of these traditions is a table of comfort food. From country ham and sweet potato biscuits to blueberry pie, a meal of southern staples such as these is just not complete without the favorite: fried chicken. The crispy crust and juicy meat, be it white or dark, give it that one of a kind, finger licking taste that makes it the perfect addition to any menu.
The most common technique used today is to either bread or batter the chicken in a blend of spices and then cook it in fat. This process was originally introduced to the South when Scottish immigrants brought their method of frying meats in fat instead of baking or boiling to America. African American slaves then perfected it by incorporating the battering technique and the use of unique spices from West Africa into the cooking process. These additions
improved the flavor and perfected this uniquely southern creation.
Everyplace has their own version of the basic process and ingredients. Each is delicious and unique for different reasons. These are some of the best places to buy fried chicken in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.
Rayz Way 3
11144 Tidewater Trail
Champlain, VA 22438
Rayz Way 3 (known by many as M&L) is an upper Essex County convenience store and has been serving up comfort
food to locals for years. Their selection is vast, but their fried chicken takes center stage amongst their plethora of sides and mains. Whether it’s a quick lunch or a family dinner, you won’t be disappointed with their flavorful fried chicken.
3531 Sunnyside Rd
Tappahannock, VA 22560
This family owned marketplace brings in the locals for its sweet, crispy skinned chicken that could compete with some national chains. Served with either a roll or two slices of white bread and a choice of homemade sides, P&P is a hot spot for area hunt clubs. They even have a cuss jar, to keep things clean of course, that gets $0.25 each time a
customer slips up. Last year they rose over $300 to be donated to Relay for Life. For this establishment, good chicken and community outreach are a win-win.
136 Sunnyside Road
Tappahannock, VA 22560
Reopened in May 2012 by Temple Grant, this renovated store has a lot to offer travelers that come across this fork in the road. The fried chicken options extend beyond quarters to wings, livers, and gizzards. Breaded in the same homemade flour mixture as the chicken, the livers will melt in your mouth.
Lowery’s Seafood Restaurant
528 Tidewater Trail
Tappahannock, VA 22560
Celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, Lowery’s has served locals and tourists alike some of the best seafood and southern dishes around. A compliment to any bushel of crabs or an after church luncheon, their traditional recipe yields moist and tender meat. Broiler chickens must be used because no one is skimping on the size of these pieces. You can dine-in or take-out. You can also select different side dishes as well such as traditional Yukon gold mashed
potatoes and gravy or green beans.
Dairy Freeze, Montross
17456 Kings Highway
Montross, VA 22520
A staple in Montross, the Dairy Freeze has served the upper Northern Neck since early 1980 and remains a place to get great food and service. The family owned restaurant offers a fried chicken that is cooked to order with skin that can be pulled off with ease to reveal the moistest meat. With sides like coleslaw, potato salad, and baked
beans and an Eskimo Pie soft serve for dessert, it is a combination hard to beat.
Jack Rabbit Express
11238 Cople Highway
Kinsale, VA 22488
Customers travel over an hour from places like Gloucester and Colonial Beach to pick up chicken from Jack’s. On any given Sunday, the kitchen fries over 200 preordered pieces for local gatherings alone. Flour based breading seasoned with a house blend of spices is used, and the end result is a delicious, perfectly juicy piece of chicken that really is worth the drive.
Bob and Chris Burgess
35 Northumberland Highway
Callao, VA 22435
Owned and operated by the Burgess family since 1948, friendly service and special offerings like their in-house butcher and local produce gives them a unique presence in the community. Deli manager, Alice Swann, has worked for the Burgesses for over 20 years and has no intention of slowing down. Thankfully we can all reap the benefits because her fried chicken is delicious and ready for walk-ins or available in large orders for pick up.
81 Irvington Rd
Kilmarnock, VA 22482
Tri-Star Supermarket has been serving the lower Northern Neck area since 1975. Owner and proprietor, Stuart Dunaway, has focused on creating a small town feeling in a store that offers customer service, friendly faces, and good chicken. The ladies use seafood breader, like House-Autry, to make their chicken unique. As a result,
the skin is the perfect combination of salty and crisp with a tender meat that rivals a good catfish bite. It was even mentioned in Guy Trebay’s New York Times November 2012 article “Virginia’s Lost History.”
The Buoy, White Stone
500 Rappahannock Drive
White Stone, VA 22578
The large, white sign in the window of The Buoy in White Stone claims that even though “they can’t fill your car, they can fill your belly,” and it’s true—what was once a gas station and convenience store is now a market and deli. An antique fryer is used to cook all of their chicken and their unique process makes it one of a kind. Each batch is breaded and fried one at a time, complimenting the wash and drop method that yields a classic fried chicken taste.
This is a representation of just some locally owned businesses and is only a taste of the great food, specifically
fried chicken, which is offered in our area.
The Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula are full of mom and pop establishments that provide us with the relationships and comfort foods known for in the South. Please check out the ones listed above or let us
know your favorite places to go. We are sure there are more wonderful establishments.
Think Local. Shop Local.