Smiley’s Chicken

Chicken Dinner | Soul Food
Worth a detour


Smiley’s is not fast food. Once you place an order, you will wait 15 to 20 minutes for the chicken to be fried and for the meal to be assembled in the Styrofoam container in which it is presented. The reward for patience is excellent fried chicken, prepared according to a recipe that Smiley, the proprietor, told us he learned from his mother. It is vividly seasoned but not overly so, and it is the sort of fried chicken that comes with an unconscionable amount of melting-rich, crisp-fried skin and crust plastered all over every piece. The meat itself is moist and flavorful but, honestly, the luxurious crunchy coat, so profoundly imbued with chicken fat and just-right seasoning, is what makes my heart go pitty-pat.

I’m not sure about the livers. Not being a chicken liver lover, I don’t necessarily trust my own judgement here, but these seemed somewhat dry, and the liver flavor is assertive enough that the joy of crust that makes thighs, breasts, and drumsticks so deliriously delish is reduced to a supporting role.

Mac ‘n’ cheese is soft, somewhat bland, a serviceable side dish. Fried okra is terrific – breaded with a see-through veil of crust cooked briefly enough that the vegetable itself maintains al dente character.

Smiley, a charming host, reminded us that his business began as a car detailing outfit and that he still does detail cars. He suggested that next time we come by we should drop off the car, then come back and pick it up, all sparkling-clean, along with chicken dinner. Service is walk-up only. There is nothing to this place other than the kitchen (and the bay next door for auto detailing), and there is no place to eat. Everything is served to go.

What to Eat
Smiley’s Chicken, 3-Piece Chicken Dinner
3-Piece Chicken Dinner
Two thighs and a breast, fried okra, mac ‘n’ cheese: This is one fine chicken dinner, presented in Styrofoam, ready to go.
Smiley’s Chicken, Fried Chicken Thigh
Fried Chicken Thigh
Close view of a fried thigh shows the significance of crusty skin, which is, of course, the best part of the chicken.
Smiley’s Chicken, Fried Chicken Liver
Fried Chicken Liver
In addition to breasts, legs, and thighs, Smiley’s kitchen turns out fried chicken livers and gizzards. They are chewy, dense, organy.
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
8 stops | 89 MILES | 1 hr 58 min

Traveling along Florida's Forgotten Coast is a reminder of what the Sunshine State was like several million inhabitants ago. The drive is unspoiled two-lane magic -- blue Gulf waters on one side, Spanish moss-draped forest on the other, and quiet small towns all along the way. With Apalachicola ("Oyster Capital of the World") at its…

Open Year Round
Meals Served
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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