Fried chicken: Pick your style

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

Used to be only a few games in town offered authentic, flavor-packed bites of crispy fried chicken. Now, you don't have to travel to the other side of the Mason-Dixon Line for a fix. Here's where to satisfy whatever style you're craving.

Double Comfort

Style: Memphis On the chicken: "Memphis has a little bit of spice but not heat," says owner Mary Lyski, who opened her fried chicken eatery in the Arena District over the summer. She got the cayenne-spiced recipe from a friend in Memphis, who inherited it from her great-grandfather, a onetime riverboat captain on the Mississippi. The secret to her tender and crisp chicken has nothing to do with the brine or the batter, she says, but rather the spice mix and marinade. "I wanted it to taste like what we had in Memphis at every place," she says.

McCarthy's Wildflower Cafe

Style: Southern On the chicken: Patrick McCarthy jokes the rest of the city is just now catching up with his Clintonville cafe on the fried chicken trend. He's been deep-frying breasts and drumsticks as a Saturday special for 15 years (though, thanks to its popularity, it may soon make the daily menu). "We use seasoned flour, no brine," McCarthy says. It's a recipe he inherited from his mom. The trick is flouring chicken twice-once on Friday so the skin gets tacky, then again right before it's tossed in the fryer. That, McCarthy says, gives it a thick, crispy coating.

Hot Chicken Takeover

Style: Nashville On the chicken: This style of fried poultry gets its heat from a cayenne paste, lending the coating a deep red color and leaving more than a tingle of heat on your lips. Owner Joe DeLoss opted not to use traditional buttermilk brine for his hot chicken recipe-one he tinkered with for months last year after a trip to Nashville, where it's easy to find entire eateries serving fried poultry at varying heat levels. Offered through a takeout window in Olde Towne East, DeLoss plans to expand his popular weekend offerings with a mobile cart funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

Mya's Fried Chicken

Style: Lowcountry On the chicken: You won't find a deep fryer on Mark Tolentino's permanently parked fried chicken truck in Clintonville. He makes his Deep South chicken the way your grandmother would-shallow fried in a pan of oil. "It yields an uneven browning, which we like," he says. "We think it adds character and flavor. Every piece is tended to by hand. I call it a craft fried chicken." After chicken is buttermilk-brined and fried, it's dipped in herb-infused honey and served with vinegar steeped with chilies. "That's a traditional Southern condiment," he says. "It's nice to have something sharp and a little sweet. It puts it over the top."

Skip the Biscuits

Poking delicious fun at the fried chicken trend, local online cookie dealer Rogue Bakery has released a limited edition Chicken Dinner Box. Owner Carl Acampado puts familiar flavors in cookie form with Fried Chicken cookies that are fried after they're baked, Buttermilk Ranch cookies made famous after a feature on ABC's "The Chew" last year, Grilled Sweet Corn cookies that taste like they sound and, for a very limited time, Key Lime Pie cookies for dessert-with your dessert.