the 2008 ypsilanti fried chicken showdown: installment 1

A few of our favorite regulars here at the 8th most influential blog in the 47th most influential state, Ol’ E Cross and Brackache, got it into their heads a little while ago that they wanted to eat at every fried chicken joint in Ypsilanti. Following are their notes on the first two stops. God-willing, other installments will follow over the next few days.

Ypsitucky Fried Chicken Review

OEC: regulars will realize that Brackache and I disagree on most everything.

BA: No we don’t.

OEC: Yes we do.

BA: We both love fried chicken.

OEC: Yes we do. So a couple years back, we decided we wanted to eat all the fried chicken Ypsilanti had to offer. Our thought was to position Ypsilanti as the per capita fried chicken capital of the world.

BA: And eat lots of fried chicken.

OEC: Admittedly, we’ve suffered some chicken capital setbacks with the loss of Chesterfield, Chicken Jacks and Norma’s Broasted. Times are tough.

BA: So here’s round one, five of the top chicken shacks in town, Chick Inn, Kluck’s, Haab’s, Biggie’s and Family’s.

OEC: We also have a KFC, but we figure everyone who’s eaten fried chicken has eaten KFC.

BA: I dig KFC, but there are so many varieties of chicken there it’d take up the whole blog by itself and it didn’t seem fair to the other joints.

OEC: The ratings are intended to be descriptive, not qualitative. Some chicken lovers like spice, others crunchy. A five on crunchy just means it’s crunchy, not that crunchy is best.

BA: Yeah, the ratings aren’t qualitative maybe, but my big mouth sure is… but we’ll leave the biggie decision-making up to your tastes, assuming you’re biggie enough boys and girls to make their own biggie decisions.

OEC: And, please folks, and tell us what great chicken joints we’ve missed.

BA: Our mouths are watering for round two.

Chick Inn Drive In
501 Holmes (at Prospect Rd.)

OEC: Easily the thickest, crispiest breading of the five we tried.

BA: I’m a fan of crispy. Plenty moist and greasy, but on the bland side.

OEC: It says “honey dipped” but you have to really concentrate to taste the honey, the pleasure is in the crunch. Not a lot of secret herbs and spices, but a big crunch covering that precious meat. Our order came with slaw and fries.

BA: The coleslaw was baby-bear just right spicy; the fries were not too thick, not too thin, super greasy, and floppy (just like I likes ’em). The biscuit? Meh. Not really a biscuit. More like high school lunch line fluffy nothing roll.

OEC: The fifties era menus and happy hens are landmark stuff. Gotta love a place that promises “quality, quanity and moderate.” Lots of other good stuff on the menu if you have the ill-fortune to dine with non-fried chicken loving friends.

BA: I also wanted to give Chick Inn kudos for including catsup without my asking. Very considerate and thoughtful.

OEC: And people say you’re a hard man to please.

[Notes: Car service only. Don’t try to walk inside. You’ll just look silly. Cash only and no inside dining. (BA doesn’t have any cash, OEC will get this one.) ]

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  1. Brackache
    Posted August 10, 2008 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    “quality, quantity and moderate.”

  2. Ol' E Cross
    Posted August 10, 2008 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    And, as long as we’re correcting, I forgot to send Mark the ratings pix. BA and I evaluated, on a 1-5 scale, what we considered to be the most essential characteristics of fried chicken dinners: crispy, moist, spices, fingerlicks (aka: greasy), sides and breading (thick/thin).

    Our combined averages for Chick Inn were:
    crispy: 5
    moist: 4
    spicy: 2.5
    fingerlicks: 4.5
    sides: 2.5
    breading: 4

  3. mark
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    The errors have been fixed. Thank you again for your outstanding work, gentlemen.

  4. Emma
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    You missed French Quarter on Ecorse. They has the best chicken plus they have good sides like mac and cheese, chicken gumbo and BBQ beans and cake and pie and sandwiches. It is also inexpensive. Bring cash. They might not take credit cards anymore…

  5. Emma
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I meant they have the best chicken, not has…

  6. Brackache
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Thanks Emma! Round 2 awaits. We tried to keep the chicken joints for round 1 within a 1-kiloton blast radius or so of River and Michigan.

    …Just so we’d really REALLY understand the full import of being even slightly nuked.

  7. dave
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    OEC, Consider fresh v. frozen as criteria as well as amount of meat on pieces for if you are hungry after eating a crunchy, fingerlicking, spicy, piece of once frozen chicken, you may score well but still be dissatisfied.

  8. Robert
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Good reporting. I love this. I can picture these guys doing a local radio show with this stuff. Someone should approach WAAM with the idea.

  9. barberton avenger
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    There’s only room for one “Fried Chicken Capital of American” and you aint it.

    Barberton in the finger lickun’ hooooouuuuusssseee, bitchus!

  10. Posted August 11, 2008 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I think we know who our Ypsilanti Liberators need to clobber in their first game…the Barberton Barons.

  11. Posted August 11, 2008 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    I second the French Quarter and raise you one Hawkins Place.

    This is pretty awesome guys.

  12. mark
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Who’s up for a road trip to Barberton, Ohio? I’ve got a gauntlet.

  13. Reclusion
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    I don’t eat much chicken.

    But the Chick Inn has the best malts one can find.

  14. heronblue
    Posted August 12, 2008 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    the chick in must be pretty good – i was out in my yard raking (when i lived in Depot Town) and a guy stopped in his car, he was visiting from out of state, and had brought his girlfriend to Ypsi just to go to the Chick Inn, but he’d not been here in many years, and had gotten lost….

    now that’s a devotee of chick inn chicken.

  15. Posted August 12, 2008 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Now, are these free range, organic Ann Arbor back yard chickens, kept in their neatly tended four chicken back yard pens? Inquiring Ann Arbor readers want to know.

    I added your review to the Chick-Inn entry on Arborwiki; there is a whole chicken category that needs love.

  16. Ol' E Cross
    Posted August 12, 2008 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the recommends Emma and Ed. Anybody know if any the diners have a particular penchant for fried chicken on the bone?

    Dave, we just went with our mouths and didn’t dig behind the counter at all because we’re both kinda lazy. Together, we average a 4.5 for laziness. Hopefully the pix will give you an idea of the portions.

    And Barberton, we’re aiming for “per capita” capital, so stop feeling threatened.

  17. Steve Swan
    Posted August 12, 2008 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    It would help if you had a consistent element of some kind in all of the photos. The ketchup packet kind of does it in this photo but you need something consistent for scale. It just so happens that I travel with something exactly 11 inches long. If it would help, I could let you use it in all of these fried chicken photos.

  18. heronblue
    Posted August 12, 2008 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Steve Swan — why so short? Aren’t you missing an inch?

  19. Posted August 12, 2008 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    I’ve considered a project to visit every Coney in Washtenaw County, but haven’t even gotten as far as enumerating every Coney in Washtenaw County, or declaring an definite set of rules for what actually is a Coney.

    Now, the idea of visiting everyone in a one-kiloton blast radius of some well known point does appeal to me, though.

  20. Posted August 12, 2008 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    One of my favorite sayings is, “There ain’t nothing wrong with fried chicken.”

  21. Brackache
    Posted August 12, 2008 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m reminded of a period of time several years ago that I tried every club sandwich in Washtenaw County that I could find, to see if Sidetrack’s claim of its Classic Club (“best club sandwich in Washtenaw County”) held up.

    I didn’t try every club sandwich in Washtenaw County, because I got tired of eating inferior club sandwiches after a while.

    So far, the Classic Club is still the king, to my personal experience. I think the secret is in the bread. Not that all the other stuff isn’t equally club-o-riffic. But it’s the bread.

  22. Steve Swan
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    If we were to use my member as a point of reference in these photos, it would have the unwanted consequence of making the chicken look decidedly less mouth-wateringly succulent by comparison.

  23. Robert
    Posted September 2, 2008 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I decided to check out the Chick Inn Drive In this past Sunday. I have to say, OEC and Brackache’s reviews were spot on! These fuckers really know their fried chicken. I also liked the people there playing the 50s music. The drive-in ‘experience’ was a big part of appeal of that place for me.

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