Parson’s Chicken and Fish
2952 W. Armitage
Being out of the country off and on for nearly 2 years, we tend to be pretty far behind most food trends in Chicago. By the time we go to a restaurant, it has already been written up by everyone and their cousin. However, for once we are able to get somewhere before it has totally fallen off the radar. We had the fortune of visiting one of the hot spots of the summer (complete with outdoor patio): Parson’s Chicken and Fish. We arrived at Parson’s with two of our friends on a Thursday night, which we figured would be a slightly off hour. Fortunately we were right, and were able to get a table for 4 outdoors nearly right away.
The atmospheric outdoor setting is a large part of Parson’s appeal. The restaurant itself was a former fast food joint, and only has a few booths. However, the outdoor area in back of the restaurant is pretty huge, and consists of semi-shared picnic tables with striped umbrellas, an open air bar, and whimsical strings of Christmas lights everywhere. The atmosphere is convivial, and there is even a ping pong table to keep you occupied if you wait (which you may have to on most nice nights).
The menu itself is pretty focused, and consists mainly of Southern American classics, especially chicken and fish, as the name would imply. The fried chicken is billed as “Amish” and you can get it grilled or fried (of course we chose fried). The fried chicken, which we figured would be the showpiece of the restaurant, was in fact extremely delicious. The chicken had a savory, crispy cornmeal breading, and was fried to perfection, with a piping hot exterior and juicy interior. We ordered a bucket of chicken for the entire table to share ($24 for the bucket and toast), along with a helping of Texas toast (perhaps our eyes were bigger than our stomachs). The bucket contained about 12 pieces of chicken, and the chicken breasts were cut in half for easier eating – though they were somewhat difficult to identify.
We also ordered a basket of fried fish ($16 for 6), which we agreed was somewhat less successful than the fried chicken, and was pretty greasy. We also enjoyed the sides: hush puppies ($4) and ceviche ($10). The ceviche was Mexican style – with a tomato-y sauce – it was good but a somewhat small portion. The hush puppies were heartily enjoyed by all – they were particularly light and fluffy – also full of bacon pieces. We finished up our hearty country picnic with a slice of lemon curd and blueberry pie from the inimitable Bang Bang Pie Shop (the pie changes regularly), which was particularly excellent. With pie like that, we hope to visit the pie shop itself soon. Parson’s Chicken and Fish is a great place for a tasty meal on a nice day, and a large part of the charming experience is being outside. Better get there before fall!