Famous Louisiana Fried Chicken 

Chicken: It's what's for dinner. At least it was for me last Friday night when I started the weekend off with a to-go box of chicken strips from Louisiana Fried Chicken, the almost-year-old chicken shop in a strip mall on Broadway.

Actually, to-go is pretty much the only way to eat Louisiana Fried Chicken, unless you opt to sit on the curb in the parking lot, because the place is sparse except for a few plastic chairs and scads of Boise State football paraphernalia.

Louisiana Fried Chicken is a chain famous since 1976 in Louisiana and California, so what's with all the Boise State stuff, including a menu full of punny football terms for orders such as "offsides"? It's not really a franchise; it's kind of complicated, but basically, the owner, who purchased licensing rights and the secret flour and red pepper recipe that coats all the food, can aesthetically and promotionally do whatever she wants.

Apparently, what she wants is to sell the best fried chicken in town. Chicken is available in pieces, wings and, my favorite, strips. There's also fried fish and shrimp, but I went with the four-piece strips meal, which comes with a choice of side and either a roll or hush puppies. I went with mac and cheese and hush puppies, little balls of sweetly spicy cornmeal.

My dinner date, Lou-Dog, also ordered the four-piece strips meal. "It's the best deal," he assured me, because he is a regular patron. "The strips are like the size of a baby's arm." But because I'd already selected the mac and cheese, he got fries and hush puppies as his sides.

It took 10 minutes for the meal to be ready because they fry everything as ordered, which makes it fresh and flamingly hot when it's served.

I waited until we were home to unwrap my meal, and sure as heck, those strips were big as bananas, the biggest strips I'd ever seen. And once I tried one, I was certain that they were the best I'd ever tasted, too. A thin, crispy sheath coats the white-meat pieces, and the spicy Cajun flavor is pretty intense.

My mac and cheese was elbow pasta in a thick sauce, really downhome tasting and all granny-made style. Lou-Dog's fries were the dud of the lot because they were, alas, just regular unseasoned fries. He wished he had selected the mac and cheese instead. But the three little hush puppies that rolled around in each box of food were a hit--a fried shell and a soft, doughy center ripe with corny and spicy flavor.

I was stuffed by those arm-sized bird breasts. Lou-Dog, with much more tenacity, finished his meal and one of my strips.

Though the restaurant location isn't much to write home about, the quality of the food is top-notch--the best chicken this side of the bayou. By all accounts, it was indeed finger-lickin' good.

--Jennifer Gelband never looks a gift chicken in the beak.

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