So, Pittsburg, Kansas. Home to one of the strangest rivalries ever. A fried chicken rivalry. That’s been going on for 70 years. The battle ground is called Chicken Dinner Road by foodies across the nation and it’s a tiny little dirt road out in the flat fields outside Pittsburg. In 1934, Chicken Annie, as she would come to be known, had a bit of bad luck; her husband, a coal miner, lost his leg; she opened a little restaurant to make ends meet. (There’s a compelling pattern here of people starting restaurants after injuries sideline them from their original work; so, if you know a good cook, go kneecap her or something). A few years later, Chicken Mary, as she would come to be known (you can’t make this stuff up, folks), also fell on hard times and Chicken Annie was doing great, so Chicken Mary’s became a thing, right up the road from Chicken Annie’s. Seriously, right up the road. There’s like one building between them. Like not even a city block, I’d say. So, which one has the best fried chicken? Well, everyone from Food Wars to Brian Williams (lol) has weighed in on that question. Now, it’s my turn.
I started at Chicken Annie’s. Just totally random choice. It was lunchtime on a Sunday when I went and this is apparently not the time to go to a fried chicken restaurant in the Bible Belt. Every church in a fifty mile radius has just ended service, right? And at least half of those people are at Chicken Annie’s; I’m assuming the other half were at Chicken Mary’s, if that parking lot was any indication. Anyway, bit of a wait, but I got to my seat at last. And can I just say, Chicken Annie’s has the most beautiful bar I’ve ever seen. It’s this old school wooden bar and the bottles behind it . . . just beautiful. Anyway, the chicken. It was really good. Flavorful, juicy and with a crunchy breading. You know, like all fried chicken, I guess, but just better. I’m a horrible writer, so I kind of don’t know how to describe it past that. Anyway, it wasn’t like jaw-droppingly awesome or anything, but you’ll be in Pittsburg in order to eat at Barto’s Idle Hour, if you hit the absolute essential meals I’m picking, so you might as well try out historic Chicken Dinner Road so you can have an opinion. If, you know, you’re up for fried chicken three meals in a row, which is what I did. Honestly, I ate more fried chicken in a single weekend than I had in probably the entire previous year. So, is Chicken Annie’s better than Chicken Mary’s? We’ll see. As to this one, I give it a recommended. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – historic fried chicken rivalry produces, at Chicken Annie’s, really good fried chicken. Not an essential meal, but a darn good one. 3 ½ stars.