Last month, Harold’s Chicken Shack opened the doors to its very first ever Arizona location in South Phoenix. Harold’s is a counter-service restaurant chain and a landmark eatery based in Chicago. Though the Windy City is primarily known for its pizza, for Chicago natives looking to devour some fried chicken, there’s only one place to go, Harold’s.
Origin and Move to Phoenix
The restaurant was started in the 1950’s by a man named Harold Pierce in Chicago. Since then, Harold’s has expanded to over 40 different locations dispersed throughout Chicago’s South Side, the Midwest in states like Indiana and Illinois, and even in Georgia, Texas, and Nevada. Now, it has expanded into the South West. After just the first week open, owner Rodney White El told the Arizona Republic “it’s been bananas, you hear me?” White El said that while they anticipated a good turn out, “we didn’t anticipate it would be that big.” Over a month since the grand opening and there are still regularly lines out the door.
White El used to split time between Chicago and Arizona but this fall moved to the Valley permanently, bringing with him this classic taste of Chicago. White El approached Kristen Pierce, daughter of the restaurant’s founder, several years ago about opening a Phoenix franchise. It took several years but now Harold’s has finally come to the Valley and Pierce’s long term goal is to make Harold’s a household name.
What to Expect
Beyond fried chicken, the Chicken Shack menu also features fries, coleslaw, catfish, cheese stix, onion rings, pizza puffs, jalapeno poppers, and fried okra as side options. Shrimp and perch are available as well, as are chicken giblets and gizzards for those who enjoy some variety.
Obviously however, the fried chicken is the bread and butter of the operation. All chicken at Harold’s is dropped fresh, cooked to order in a mix of beef tallow and vegetable oil. A coating of lemon pepper seasoning is often added to the chicken. Finally, the birds are served with the restaurant’s signature mild sauce that soaks into the chicken.
It’s only been a month and Harold’s is already making a name for itself, rivaling other chicken mouth traps for the best wings in the Valley.
The secret sauce
The sauce, itself a culinary icon, is a condiment cross between ketchup and barbecue sauce and packs a punch similar to a Louisiana style sauce. According to White El, “the barbecue sauce has it’s own distinct taste,” which he says Harold’s is introducing to the world. The sauce has been described some guests as “tangy, sweet, and thick with a hint of spice.” Move over mac sauce.
Like the pizza that the Windy City has become known for, Chicago style chicken has its own distinct flare that stands out from other variations. It’s seasoned in a way that gives the meat small pockets of heavy seasoning to give it a burst of flavor. The wings are served over a mound of french fries and a slice of white bread and is then smothered with either hot or mild sauce.
Wing dinners start with a 4-piece for $6.50. There’s a 6-piece for $7.50, an 8-piece for $8.00 and a 10-piece for $10.
Harold’s also offers a variety of seafood dinners such as a catfish and perch dinner for $7.50 and an 8-piece shrimp dinner for $10.00 (See below for the full menu and prices).
Location and Hours
Where: 1635 E. Baseline rd., Phoenix
Hours: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday