Photo by Michael Thomas

Byrd & Barrel

Yes, Byrd & Barrel is another new fried-chicken restaurant. Yes, the chicken lives up to the hype. Buttermilk-brined and pressure-fried, it’s crunchy and juicy, peppery and brown-sugar sweet. What makes Byrd & Barrel fascinating, though, is that within its tiny space (crammed bar, only three indoor tables) chef Bob Brazell is operating two different restaurants. One is fast food done better, drive-thru included: meaty fried-chicken nuggets, or Nugz, with a wide range of dipping sauces. The other restaurant features creative, ambitious fare. Dishes nod both to St. Louis (a fried-chicken sandwich with Provel and Red Hot Riplets) and Brazell’s background in upscale dining (game hen over white-cheddar grits). Both versions of Byrd & Barrel belong on this list.

Last year's ranking: New

Opened: 2015

Must order: Buttermilk fried chicken, half-bird ($12) or Nugz ($4 and up)