I’m on a journey to find the best fried chicken in Buffalo. While I’m still making the rounds, I think Freddy J’s BBQ on Massachusetts deserves its own mention. My friend Rasheeda and I stopped by for lunch the other day; the place is very small but it’s perfect for Freddy’s vision of a family restaurant.
We sat down at the kitchen counter, where Freddy laid out placemats and wine glasses for our sodas. As we talked, he picked various vegetables out of a bowl on the counter and started cutting them for our salads and our meal. He did this for every order.
By the looks of things, Freddy creates regulars, not one-timers. He treated everyone that walked in as if they were family, and he remembered each of their orders. There’s nothing like the feeling of being in a family kitchen. “I cook in front of people so I can chat,” Freddy smiled. “I have nothing to hide when I’m cooking.” It’s true–when things are cooked right in front of you there’s a level of comfort that is conveyed by the effort.
Now, let’s talk about the food. All the vegetables Freddy uses come from Guercio’s, the salmon is purchased from a local purveyor and the chicken is locally-raised. Freddy’s chicken is always marinated overnight and baked in the oven in the morning. By the time lunch comes along, the chicken is so juicy and tender that it falls from the bone. Freddy is also serving up all the classics that make you think of comfort food. Guests can choose from cornbread, green beans, cajun rice, and mac and cheese. Daily specials are posted on their Facebook fan page.
I chose the mac and cheese as the side with my order of fried chicken. Freddy’s chicken is slow cooked in the oven and then breaded and fried to order. The marinade, combined with the herb rub and the slow cooking process, makes the chicken flavorful and juicy. My only complaint about the mac and cheese was that that I could have eaten multiple servings in one sitting–one portion was just not enough. Rasheeda ordered jerk chicken with mac and cheese and cornbread. Freddy snuck a piece of cornbread onto my plate with a smile, “You gotta try this.” Rasheeda took a break from making happy yummy sounds to suggest that I gather everything on my fork and eat it all in one bite. The sweetness of the cornbread went perfectly with the creamy mac and cheese and the fried goodness of the chicken. My only thought was how wrong it was to love my meal as much as I did. After all, it’s just food.
Freddy’s wife Staci is the heart of their catering business; I love her theory for catering: “We basically bring the barbecue to you. If you’re going to have a party you shouldn’t have to be bothered with entertaining and cooking. Let us take care of all that.” Staci doesn’t use a standard catering menu, “I always sit down with them and do a consultation first. I don’t bring a menu because I want to cook what they want to eat. Someone once said that they wanted barbecue meatballs–we don’t normally have those, but we made them.”
Freddy J’s BBQ is comfort food at its best. It’s simple, fresh, tasty and served in a warm environment. If you miss lunch at Freddy’s, you can always catch dinner when Freddy takes over the kitchen at Christopher’s on Grant Street. Coming soon we may see a patio at Freddy J’s with a grill out front. We’ll keep you posted.
Buffalo, NY 14213