After 30 years in business, Charles Country Pan Fried Chicken continues to be a hot spot for Harlem residents seeking authentic fried chicken and Southern cuisine at affordable prices. They also feature an “all you can eat” buffet for $15 per person.
Located on 132nd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, Charles Country Pan Fried Chicken is known for its skillet-fried chicken and communal atmosphere. Popular dishes include fried chicken, smothered pork chops, turkey wings, chicken and waffle, collard greens, yams, black-eyed peas and a mixture of okra, tomatoes and corn. He pan-fries his chicken.
One of Charles’ famous customers was Whoopi Goldberg. Charles has been featured on the Food Network, Daily News, New York Magazine, Time Out Magazine, G Q Magazine, Village Voice and Crain’s. Charles had a Zagat Rating of 27 in 2002.
“I cook Southern…People that are from the South, they know how Southern food tastes and how it’s prepared,” said Charles Gabriel, 67, owner and founder of the restaurant.
His hard water fried chicken was featured in “Fried & True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides,” a book published in May by Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman. The authors described his food as “the most authentic Southern fried chicken” found “smack in the middle of Harlem.”
Gabriel was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina with 12 brothers and eight sisters. Since the age of seven, he and his siblings sharecropped. At home, they would cook fried chicken, biscuits, rice and gravy as well as make sandwiches.
He worked at Copeland’s Restaurant for 12 years. The entrepreneurial spirit hit him so he sold food at a table in the park and eventually in a truck. In 1984, he opened his restaurant.
The restaurant gives back to the community, too. Gabriel has provided food at no cost for neighborhood block parties and some nonprofit organizations.
The restaurant is located on 2461 Frederick Douglas Boulevard at 132nd Street and is open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. – 2 a.m., Friday 11 a.m. – 4 a.m., Saturday 11 a.m. – 4 a.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. – 2 a.m.