Mr Chicken (Watkins Glen, NY)

(Update: In late 2016, for health reasons of the owner, Mr Chicken clucked its last cluck)

It’s not often that a restaurant draws me in right off of the street, but Mr Chicken in Watkins Glen, NY did exactly that. While heading to our camping spot at Watkins Glen State Park, right at the entrance to the park we noticed (and, just as importantly, smelled) Mr Chicken. The overall effect just screamed “chicken”, so we had to check it out.

Mr Chicken is obviously one of the major restaurants in Watkins Glen, since they do a land office business in chicken dinners, serving them inside, outside on picnic tables (which due to the weather wasn’t a popular choice that day), and boxed up to go, appropriate for picnicing alongside Seneca Lake as you are touring the local wineries (which we probably would’ve done exactly this that day, except for the rain). They also have a variety of BBQ and sandwiches.

My half-chicken dinner (at right) was extremely good. The chicken was beautifully crisped, and the inside juicy and not even slightly overcooked, just falling off the bone. It was accompanied by excellent fries (again, crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside), and some excellent homemade coleslaw (in which they actually pour the dressing on it as they serve it).

The result was one of the best chicken dinners I’ve had. I’d rank it roughly third, behind Bon Ton of Henderson, KY (“We don’t need no steenkin’ Colonel”), and Stroud’s of Kansas City (“We choke our own chickens”). Yes, it even slightly edges out the chicken at the Versailles, OH Poultry Days festival, although they are still firmly in 4th place.

So, if you find yourself in southwestern New York, a trip up to Watkins Glen to check out the gorge is a nice activity. Consider following it up with some good chicken.

1. The chicken. Their chicken is yet another (fleeting) exhibit showing that the art of good chicken hasn’t been completely lost.
2. The coleslaw. This has to be a contender for the best cole slaw I’ve had as well.
3. The ambiance. This place screams Chicken.

Cons: None.

3 Responses

  1. Anonymous 22 May 2007 at 14:01 #

    As a life long member of the community that Mr. Chicken belongs to I am pleased to read you enjoyed the chicken! But I do have one bone to pick with you! (No pun intended) Mr. Chicken’s chicken is NOT fired!!! There is no breading on their chicken… but it is delicously seasoned! Come back and enjoy the chicken any time… just remember that it is not fried!

  2. kaszeta 22 May 2007 at 14:27 #

    I stand corrected.

  3. Patti Jo 12 Sep 2007 at 17:10 #

    I worked at Mr. Chicken for a couple years when I was just out of High School and you are right the chicken is NOT breaded or fried in any way. If you look back in the kitchen when you are there you will see the large “spit stove” where all the chickens are roasted on the spit and basted every few minutes with a “secret” sauce. A quirky thing about Mr. Chicken when I worked there, was that one “special” employee used to dress up as Mr. Chicken during NASCAR race weekends and pull people in off the street. FUN PLACE TO WORK -GREAT FAMILY ATMOSPHERE. LOVE TO THE BONDS

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