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Belgrade Gardens

401 East State St., Barberton, OH - (330) 745-0113
Posted By Michael Stern on August 8, 2007 2:38 PM
Barberton chicken, served at a handful of restaurants in the Akron suburb, is not like other fried chicken. Cooked in lard, it has an unspeakably luxurious red gold crust; and it differs from ordinary fast-food fried chicken not only by the dripping moistness its crust encases, but by its shape. It is cut the old-fashioned way into wing, drumette, breast, leg, thigh, and back, an economical technique left over from Depression days when cooks tried to maximize the number of pieces they could get from one chicken. When you sink your teeth into a piece, you may find meat where you might not expect meat; but let us assure you that every bite is delicious! It is not for nothing that Barberton lays claim to being the chicken capital of the world.

Belgrade Gardens, since 1933, is the original source of this good stuff; and while the menu is vast – including steaks, chops, seafood, sandwiches, and some really good chicken paprikash – first-time visitors need to get the full chicken dinner. You can get white or dark meat or a combination or a plate of nothing but legs, thighs, backs, wings or tenders. Each is available small, medium, and large.

The chicken itself is the center of a ritual feast that also includes a bowl of spicy tomato-rice hot sauce that is positively addictive. At a table near ours, a woman was telling her friends that she used to come to Belgrade Gardens every week. "My mother would always take home hot sauce to try to duplicate the recipe," she said. "She came close, but father never allowed that she had done it." In addition to the sauce, you get a timbale of sweet cole slaw, and a fistful of French fries plus a basket of white and dark bread.
4 star rating
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Posted By richard henzel on March 8, 2013 5:35 PM
I was first taken to Belgrade's when I was six weeks old. I chewed on the end of a French fry, they tell me. The same waitress, Viola I think her name was, still worked there when I took my wife there for the first time, twenty-five years later. The food was still good when I took my sons there forty years later, and next time I get within a hundred miles I'll go again--63 years later. Don't tell me it's unhealthy--it's only once every couple of decades!
5 star rating
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Chicken Dinner
Hot Sauce
Cole Slaw
Chicken Paprikash

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Posted By BETH ROYSE on November 11, 2012 9:29 AM
This is the best chicken ever. Yes, it does cost more than KFC, because it's NOT KFC! It's homemade from scratch. We sat down and ate here last night and what a treat. The chicken was hot and juicy, the coleslaw was crisp, and the beer was cold. The hot rice had the perfect kick. The portions are huge. I have my leftovers for lunch; can't wait.

Two weeks from now you'll be craving it! This is a sit-down experience; the food is so hot that carry out would ruin it.
0 star rating
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Chicken Dinner
Cole Slaw
Hot Sauce

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Posted By George Ryerson on November 6, 2012 11:34 AM
My fiance and I made the mistake of getting two chicken dinners for takeout recently. The price we were charged, $23.98 for the two dinners, is absolutely disgusting and borders on outright theft. On paying for these meals I was so flabbergasted by the price that I was unable to respond. If I had it to do over I'd tell them to just keep the dinners. Even worse, a fact which makes it seem that Belgrade Gardens knows that their prices are out of line, I wasn't told what the price was going to be when placing the order, and was also told to pay at the time the order was ready.

So, unless you're into overpaying for such things or simply don't care about prices, stay away from Belgrade Gardens.
1 star rating
Overall Rating
Chicken Dinner

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Posted By Ben Weiner on March 25, 2012 4:02 PM
On a trip through Ohio, I stopped at Belgrade Gardens expecting to experience the hype of "Barberton fried chicken." Having sampled the great fried chickens from Memphis, Nashville, and Chicken dinner road in Pittsburg, Kansas, I unquestionably had high expectations. After several bites of the fried chicken, my opinion was apparent: embarrassed for bringing guests. The chicken, while moist and unique, did not blow anyone away. The famous hot sauce was no more than watery salsa. The fries added nothing but extra calories to the meal. On a positive note, the best part of the experience was the dumplings which were quite tasty. However, on the whole, I would never even recommend Belgrade Gardens to anyone passing directly through Barberton, let alone a detour.
2 star rating
Overall Rating
Dumpling Soup
Cole Slaw
Chicken Dinner
Hot Sauce

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Posted By James Switzer on February 27, 2008 8:29 PM
Belgrade Gardens--and the other Barberton chicken houses--are true guilty pleasures. Michael Stern's review is, as usual, right on the money. The problem, of course, is that the chicken is fried in lard, and some of us have had bypasses. But what marvelous chicken. My solution is to order the paprikash (low fat and delicious) and beg one piece of my wife's fried chicken and a couple fries. The coleslaw is made with sweetened vinegar, not mayonnaise, and is great and essentially guilt-free. The "hot sauce" (essentially mildly spicy rice and tomatoes) is unique to Barberton.

If you salivate about trying chili in Cincinnati or barbecue in Kansas City (or wherever), add Barberton Chicken to your wish list. It's worth a trip to Northeast Ohio. (The restaurant in Uniontown is a short hop on I-77 from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.)
3 star rating
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