By Lori Fredrich and Matt Mueller Published Oct 18, 2021 at 5:01 PM Photography: Lori Fredrich

’Tis Dining Month, the tastiest time of year! This means we’re dishing up fun and fascinating food content throughout October. Dig in, Milwaukee!

In honor of OnMilwaukee's Dining Month, we've decided tto take FoodCrush Live on the road for an arduous task: finding the best fried chicken in Milwaukee. I know: It's a hard job, but somebody's gotta do it. So each week, we'll pop in to a different Brew City establishment and dig into their finest fried fowl.

Our latest destination ...

Tupelo Honey
511 N. Broadway, (414) 207-4604
tupelohoneycafe.com

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Tupelo Honey is a newcomer to the Milwaukee culinary scene; but it hasn't taken long for this restaurant (the chain's first in the state) and its Southern specialties to get comfortable in Brew City.

Their comfort-food-laden menu features modern takes on traditional Southern fare, including chicken and waffles, po'boys, shrimp and grits, fluffy biscuits, fried green tomatoes and more.

But the belle of this Southern ball might just be the fried chicken, which comes two ways: honey dusted (with the restaurant's "bee dust") or sweet and spicy (tossed in Sriracha honey sauce). We decided to dig into the dusted version for our particular poultry perusal.

We really couldn't have picked more differing (but equally delicious) approaches to fried chicken for our first two stops. While TomKen's delivered a classic, no-frills-needed fried chicken bite, putting the pure chicken goodness first and foremost, Tupelo Honey brought some real flavor fireworks to the party.

As you'd expect from a place with the word "honey" in its name, the fried chicken – available in both white meat, dark meat and half-bird plates – brought a literal breath of sweetness on the first bite thanks to the light honey dust on the outside.

What really made his fried fowl fair in my eyes, though, was the surprising burst of burn which complemented the moist and meaty chicken (brined for more than 18 hours). Both the light and dark meat offered a deliciously pleasant mouth-warming heat that didn't scald or scorch the palate but simultaneously woke up and soothed the senses, teasing the taste buds for another chomp of sweetly spicy chicken.

The breading wasn't consistently crispy, with the larger chicken pieces (namely the breast and thigh) offering a far more satisfying crunch than the smaller pieces (drumstick and wing). But that aside, Tupelo Honey's fried chicken was undoubtedly a sweet success. I guess we'll just have to come back to try the sweet and spicy version. Oh darn ... 

Follow our fried chicken trek

Here's our complete list of fried chicken escapades (the most recent destinations are listed first).

TomKen's

8001 W. Greenfield Ave., (414) 258-9110
tomkens.com

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As it turns out, we couldn't have picked a better starting point for our fried chicken journey – because not only was TomKen's fried chicken delicious, it serves as an ideal baseline for the rest of our eating adventures.

The fried chicken isn't fancy or feature some signature flavor or element that paricularly sets it apart. It's just damn delicious fried chicken, cooked to perfection – the meat juicy and plentiful; the breading with a tender crunch but not thick or overbearing; the whole package exactly what you imagine when you crave fried chicken. We may find a more special or memorably unique basket of fried chicken in this series, but we may not find one more comfortingly classic. 

But wait, there's more

Be sure to tune in for more of our fried chicken feasts throughout the month of October (and potentially beyond ... ) every Wednesday night around 5 p.m. on OnMilwaukee's Facebook page!

Next up: O Yeah Chicken and More! (*cue Kool-Aid Man busting through wall*)