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With my wedding just 16 days away, and a burning yet misdirected need to somehow shave off as many pounds as possible, my mind has been on one thing and one thing alone come dinner time: chicken. The fried kind.

We’re fortunate to live in a community that serves up some great choices if you’re willing to get your ass on the treadmill the next day, and so I present to you my Top 3 Places to Eat a Fried Bird in C-U:

Dig in after the jump.


3. Skully’s: This joint lives in the building that used to be occupied by one of my favorite hang outs in high school, Sweet Betsy’s. This is Midwestern soul food — and the folks at Skully’s make no bones about it. In addition to their signature fried chicken, they have fish, sausages, hot wings and the like, and they even make their own sauce to boot. The prices are reasonable and Skully’s won’t over-fry your bird. That makes for a tender and juicy bite, even in the white meat of the breast.

Skully’s is located at 805 Philo Rd Urbana, IL

2. Apple Dumpling: Despite the fact that its new building (the last one burned to the ground) feels like a cafeteria inside, and the charm got more than singed in the aftermath of the fire, this hidden gem on Highcross Rd. still knows how to fry up a bird. I am not totally positive, but I am betting that buttermilk is involved in some capacity. Famous for its namesake, first and foremost, the Apple Dumpling has a running tally of how many dumplings it’s served throughout the years. But people also come from miles around to dig into the fried chicken, which is served nightly, in addition to a rotating menu of comfort foods like beef ’n noodles, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried shrimp and more.

The Apple Dumpling is located at 2014 N High Cross Rd, Urbana, IL

1. The Sea Boat Once the smoke clears and all our friends and family have left the vicinity, my soon-to-be wife and I have already agreed that we’re going to wait the proper amount of time to indulge in the best fried chicken around. The Sea Boat is famous for its, yep, Seaboat sandwich: light and fluffy filets of whiting fish on soft wheat rolls with lettuce, tomato and doctored mayo. But it’s that fried chicken that keeps us coming back, despite the tremendous wait to chow down. The signs are clear when you walk in: You will wait to eat, but it will be worth it. Expect anywhere from 20–30 minutes for your order, but it’s worth every tick of the clock. Tender, juicy pieces of chicken are slow fried in oil that seems to make the bird softer and more flavorful than your average fry. Sides of real mac ’n cheese and fried okra are standard, but we always go with the spaghetti and meat sauce and greens as well. No use skimping here; it’s the best place in town to indulge if you’ve got a hankerin’ for some fried chicken.

The Sea Boat is now located at 403 W Kirby Ave Champaign, IL