Popeye’s Still Good in a Pinch

11 Sep

As many of you know, I am not a big fast food guy. In fact, I usually go out of my way to avoid any fast food experience. However, I must say that an occasional visit to Popeye’s is not necessarily a bad thing. It had been a while since I’d given them a try. Most likely because I have normally had equal or better options for tasty fried fowl and/or authentic Louisiana specialties. But we now reside in SW FL, where it can be pretty difficult to find anything remotely Southern. I had not found any decent fried chicken and was not even sure if it existed here. Someone asked me the other day about my favorite fried chicken in Sarasota and I drew a complete blank. It was time for me to remember what it tasted like.

I hit the drive thru at Popeye’s on Highway 41 just north of downtown Sarasota. It is not the best part of town and the clientele is mostly poor, working class folks. There were several vehicles in the lot when I pulled up — most of them were pick-ups and city-owned cars. I ordered a spicy chicken breast (yes, I’m a white meat guy), a buttermilk biscuit, and a side of red beans and rice. The crispy breast was scalding hot and delicious. The buttery biscuit was just as good as I had remembered. And the red beans and rice — while not quite New Orleans quality — really hit the spot. It all cost less than $5, so the price was right.

So — who has the best fried chicken in Sarasota? Right now I would have to say Popeye’s. It’s certainly not as good as Mom’s … and a far cry from Uncle Lou’s fabulous honey-dipped bird in Memphis. I guess my next stop will be KFC. It has been ages since I have darkened their door. Who knows? Maybe a taste of the Colonel’s 11 herbs and spices will rekindle some deep, childhood memories. Or perhaps it will be a colossal disappointment. I’ll give it a shot and see what gives. Stay tuned!

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