Belgrade Gardens | Barberton Chicken Dinner | Only in Ohio

Review by: Jane & Michael Stern

Not KFC!

Barberton chicken dinner, served at a handful of restaurants in the Akron suburb, is one of the great fried chicken dinners in the U.S. It has a personality all its own.

Cooked in lard, the bird itself boasts an unspeakably luxurious red gold crust. It differs from ordinary fast-food fried chicken two ways: Its crust encases dripping moistness. And the pieces are different. Cooks cut it the old-fashioned way into wing, drumette, breast, leg, thigh, and back. This economical technique hearkens back to Depression days. Cooks cut chicken this way because it maximized the number of pieces they could get. When you sink your teeth into a piece, you may find meat where you might not expect meat. But let us assure you that every bite is delicious. It is not for nothing that Barberton lays claim to being the chicken capital of the world.

The Ritual Feast

The chicken is the center of a ritual feast that also includes a bowl of kaleidoscopically spicy tomato-rice hot sauce. At a table near ours, a woman was telling her friends that she used to come to Belgrade Gardens every week. “My mother would always take home hot sauce to try to duplicate the recipe,” she said. “She came close, but father never allowed that she had done it.” In addition to the sauce, you get a timbale of sweet cole slaw and a fistful of French fries plus a basket of white and dark bread.

Not Only Chicken

Belgrade Gardens, since 1933, is the original source of the Barberton chicken dinner. The founding Topalsky family based it on a traditional Serbian recipe from their homeland. While the restaurant’s menu is broad – including steaks, chops, seafood, sandwiches, and some really good chicken paprikash – first-time visitors need to eat chicken. You can get white or dark meat or a combination or a plate of nothing but legs, thighs, backs, wings or tenders. Each is available small, medium, and large.

Directions & Hours

12pm - 8pm
  • Monday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
  • Thursday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
  • Friday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
  • Saturday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
  • Sunday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM

What To Eat

Chicken Dinner

DISH
Chicken Soup

DISH
Dumpling Soup

DISH
Hot Sauce

DISH
Cole Slaw

DISH
Chicken Paprikash

DISH

Belgrade Gardens | Barberton Chicken Dinner | Only in Ohio Recipes

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2 Responses to “Belgrade Gardens | Barberton Chicken Dinner | Only in Ohio”

George Ryerson

November 6th, 2012

My fiance and I made the mistake of getting two chicken dinners for takeout recently. The price we were charged, $23.98 for the two dinners, is absolutely disgusting and borders on outright theft. On paying for these meals I was so flabbergasted by the price that I was unable to respond. If I had it to do over I’d tell them to just keep the dinners. Even worse, a fact which makes it seem that Belgrade Gardens knows that their prices are out of line, I wasn’t told what the price was going to be when placing the order, and was also told to pay at the time the order was ready.

So, unless you’re into overpaying for such things or simply don’t care about prices, stay away from Belgrade Gardens.

Reply

James Switzer

February 27th, 2008

Belgrade Gardens–and the other Barberton chicken houses–are true guilty pleasures. Michael Stern’s review is, as usual, right on the money. The problem, of course, is that the chicken is fried in lard, and some of us have had bypasses. But what marvelous chicken. My solution is to order the paprikash (low fat and delicious) and beg one piece of my wife’s fried chicken and a couple fries. The coleslaw is made with sweetened vinegar, not mayonnaise, and is great and essentially guilt-free. The “hot sauce” (essentially mildly spicy rice and tomatoes) is unique to Barberton.

If you salivate about trying chili in Cincinnati or barbecue in Kansas City (or wherever), add Barberton Chicken to your wish list. It’s worth a trip to Northeast Ohio. (The restaurant in Uniontown is a short hop on I-77 from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.)

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