Article by: Isaac Weston (@isaacweston)
A brand new Infiniti passes by with two young men blasting Future’s new album; the passenger flashes me a glimpse of his gold teeth and drives off. We are in South Memphis at Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken, which has been featured on The Food Network twice since 2008.
Though Memphis is known for barbecue, I have learned that fried chicken is growing in popularity throughout the city. We walk into Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken and are immediately greeted by the workers in a way that would lead one to believe we are regulars, but the love doesn’t stop after the first impression. Uncle Lou himself walks out from behind the counter, equipped with a big smile and a firm handshake, and starts up a conversation about the upcoming Memphis Tigers football season. Since we are rookies at this whole Uncle Lou’s thing, Lou starts telling us the best-sellers on the menu and how to get the whole experience.
Our order for 4 adults includes a sausage and cheese platter, 16 pieces of fried chicken (half original, half “Sweet Spicy Love”), and sides which include coleslaw, potato salad, French fries, fried pickles, fried okra, and fried baby carrots, which are referred to as “Corrupted” Carrots. Oh, and some Honey Buttered biscuits, all for less than $40. The order was a large one, but the staff took it head on and it was less than ten minutes before we were saying grace over the steaming food that had taken over our table.
The sausage and cheese platter was a great warmup for the rest of the meal. You could taste the smoke on every slice of sausage, and that smoky flavor on the outside was complemented by the sweet juice on the inside. The original fried has a thin breading which is delicious and great for those who prefer very little breading. Now, if you want to go all in at Uncle Lou’s, the “Sweet Spicy Love” chicken is the way to go. We went with hot, but mild is also an option. Uncle Lou’s logo pays homage to “Sweet Spicy Love” with the design of two chicken drumsticks crossing each other to create a heart. Great design, even better chicken. Being from Nashville, I have tried hot chicken before, but this recipe has equal sweet and spice, which was a beautiful battle on my palette.
Now about the most remarkable side item- the “Corrupted” carrots. They have the consistency of small baked sweet potatoes, and are topped off with Uncle Lou’s unique seasoning. And let’s be honest, fries are fries, but add the layer of “Corrupted” seasoning and now you have added a layer of flavor unmatched by any other fried chicken joint I have been to in the South.
Throughout the meal, Uncle Lou and his family check on us just enough; they know Southern hospitality! Uncle Lou tells me that he has several food stands around the Liberty Bowl for all to enjoy his delicious food while watching some live Tiger football. After we are done packaging up all of the leftovers, Lou hears it is my birthday and tells me to go pick out one of the desserts in a spinning display by the front counter. I decide on chocolate cake with his mother’s recipe for strawberry frosting, which has small pieces of fresh strawberry in the mix.
Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken sums up what the city of Memphis stands for. The people are friendly, the culture is rich, and the food is excellent.