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Champaign-Urbana fried chicken sammies you need in your life

Fried chicken sandwiches are my favorite kind of sandwich. I love fried chicken, and add some bread? Hell yes, sign me up. You won’t find me in a drive-through line at a fast food restaurant for a chicken sandwich, though. First off, fast food sandwiches have nothing on the chicken sandwiches in this list. Second, you don’t have to wait in a long line to order and wait for your sandwich; these C-U restaurants are ready for your online or phone order, and they will get you your sandwich curbside. 

Here are five fried chicken sandwiches (and a bonus chicken sandwich adjacent dish) for you to check out.

A giant fried chicken sandwich from Billy Barooz is on a black plate next to a pile of french fries. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Chicken Sandwich | Billy Barooz

This fried chicken sandwich ($10.99) comes with three thinly-sliced pickles, chipotle mayo, and a choice of side (I chose fries). This sandwich was super yummy. The chicken on this sandwich was enormous; it was a full chicken breast, butterflied, then fried, then put on top of a bun.

The chicken was well-seasoned and had a light, crispy batter. The sauce was mostly on the pickles, so the main event was definitely the chicken. The pickles and the mayo gave a little bit of tang, but the overwhelming taste of this sandwich was fried chicken — which is what I want on a chicken sandwich. The fries were good and still warm when I got home. There wasn’t anything special about the flavors of this meal, but the gigantic portion of chicken provided was definitely special. It was a filling and wondrous sandwich that I would definitely eat again.

Billy Barooz
2125 Village Green Pl
M-Th 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
F 11 a.m. to midnight
Sa 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A fried chicken sandwich from Crane Alley has a sauce dripping down the side of it on a black plate with a side of fries. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

 Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Blackbird Sandwich | Crane Alley

This blackbird sandwich ($11) came deconstructed: a brioche bun with fried chicken breast on it and toppings on the side — which I appreciated because the sammie wasn’t soggy when I got home. Crane Alley’s blackbird sandwich came with pickle slices and little mini cups of chipotle aioli and coleslaw, and I added raw onion for no extra charge. After I assembled the sandwich myself with all the toppings, I dug in.

It was a messy, glorious sandwich. The sandwich had a crunchy blackened, buttermilk-battered chicken breast which gave a small, smoky heat that was balanced with the chipotle sauce in tasty contrast to the cold coleslaw and pickles. Each bite was phenomenal: flavorwise and texturally. The sandwich was served with a side of fries included in the price.

When I ordered online, I was able to park in the curbside spot right in front of Crane Alley. I called the restaurant, and my order was brought out to my passenger side window immediately by a masked staff person. You can place your order online here to pick-up or for delivery.

Crane Alley
115 W Main St
T-Su 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

A thin fried chicken sandwich has cheese covered mushrooms with raw onion and lettuce on it on a black plate on a white table. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Motherclucker | Farren’s

This fried chicken motherclucker sandwich ($12) from Farren’s came with chicken, sautéed mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and a bleu cheese sauce with lettuce and onion. The sandwich is served with a side of tricolor chips, but you can sub them for fries for $1.50, fried potato chips for $2.50, or $4 for onion rings. The motherclucker usually comes with grilled chicken, but Farren’s will substitute fried chicken for no extra cost.

The chicken on this sandwich is expertly fried and deliciously crispy. The Swiss cheese was melted into the mushrooms to make a yummy topping to the fried chicken. The bleu cheese sauce came on the side, so I was able to pour as much as I liked (spoiler: all of it). The raw white onion gave a good crunch and bite, too. The whole thing was pretty great, and it tasted freshly battered and fried to order. The fried potatoes were plentiful, salty, and made a good addition to the meal.

You can order online or call in your order in at 217-359-6977. When I arrived at my pickup time, my order wasn’t quite ready until 10 minutes later, but it was fine as I was parked in one of Farren’s curbside pickup parking spots right in front of the restaurant — and enjoying a bit of solitude after many days upon days with my lovely children. 

Farren’s Pub
117 N Walnut
Su-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A fried chicken sandwich from Neil St. Blues is dripping in cheese and sauce on a white plate with french fries. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Yard Bird | Neil St. Blues

This yard bird sandwich ($12) from Neil St. Blues was basically an entire meal between buns. This sammie had two large pieces of fried chicken with a good portion of homemade pickles, house remoulade sauce, and melted Monterrey Jack cheese on a soft bun.

The sandwich was more than I could eat, but I definitely tried. The chicken was crunchy and salty — and nearly double the portion of chicken I expect on a sandwich. The remoulade sauce had a kick to it that took this dish to the next level. The pickles were thick and gave a nice, crisp crunch. And there was cheese! The cheese melted into the cracks of the fried chicken and made the whole sandwich insanely good. This sandwich is a must try, especially if you’ve haven’t tried Neil St. Blues yet.

You can order carryout here and park in one of Neil St. Blues’ designated curbside spots on Hill Street just off Neil Street in Downtown Champaign.

Neil St. Blues
301 S Neil St
T-Th 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A fried chicken sandwich from Watson's sits on a white plate next to potato wedges. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Fried Chicken Sandwich | Watson’s Shack & Rail

Easily the most famous chicken sandwich in town — and for good reason, Watson’s fried chicken sandwich ($10) had fried chicken thighs, herb mayo, lettuce, and pickles on a brioche bun served with potato wedges. This sandwich was amazing: the flavor of the chicken (Watson’s brines their chicken overnight), the mighty crunch of the batter, the tangy mayo, and the buttery, toasted buns come together to make an awesome sandwich. 

The potato wedges are really great and dusted with Watson’s special seasoning. I like to ask for a side of the comeback sauce (a creamy dip Watson’s serves with their hushpuppies) to go with the wedges. Watson’s fried chicken sandwich is a meal I’ve gotten to go many times this pandemic, and each time, the sandwich and wedges were still piping hot when I got home. It is even more incredible when you add one of Watson’s boozy slushies to your to go order.

Check out Watson’s curbside menu here. You can call 217-607-0168 to place your order for pick up, or you can order delivery through DoorDash here.

Watson’s Shack & Rail
211 N Neil St
T- Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Su 4 to 9 p.m.

Five sushi pieces from the Chicken Run roll from Sushi Kame are on a white plate. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Chicken Run | Sushi Kame

Okay, so obviously, this is not a fried chicken sandwich. This is a fried chicken sushi roll, but it tasted like a fried chicken sammie. This chicken run roll ($6.95) from Sushi Kame comes with fried chicken, jalapeño, cream cheese, red onion, and a spicy sauce. It was an odd little sushi roll, but it was so good. The crunchy chicken paired with onion and the creamy sauce tastes so much like the crunchy chicken and sauce on the sandwiches featured above.

It’s pretty weird, but it was pretty fantastic, so if you’re in the mood for a chicken sandwich and also sushi, this roll is for you. You can put your order in online here.

Sushi Kame
39 E Green St
T-Sa noon to 3 p.m., 5 to 11 p.m.
Su noon 3 p.m., 4 to 9 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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