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Best Heat-Lamp Fried Chicken: Crispy pleasures in the liquor store lot 

Food Town Market

In letters big enough to mean it, the sign tacked outside Food Town lays it down: No loitering, drinking, soliciting, or drugs. Thankfully there's no ordinance against fried chicken, since this South Berkeley corner market — purveyor of forty-ouncers, Cheetos, and Swisher Sweets — drops the bomb on some of the best we've tasted. Think heat-lamp chicken, in the same tradition as the colonel's: hefty bird parts seasoned and floured, deep-fried, and kept warm in a glass case near the register. But unlike the kind of fast-food chicken that sullies your fingers, Food Town's fry is surprisingly well made. The pieces are carefully seasoned, just about greaseless, and even the breast meat comes close to juicy. It's supposed to be available daily, although we've shown up to find the case empty. Keep trying till you hit it, and heed the sign when you do. Instead of loitering out front with your sack of wings, experience fried bliss from the seat of a parked Subaru.
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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