// Location4 Thompson's Point Road
Portland, ME 04102
// HoursOpen 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
// Price Range$
// Cuisine Type Comfort Food, Southern,
// Features Take Out,
// AT A GLANCE
Jason Loring describes Big J’s Chicken Shack as “a fun, simple fried chicken place,” and he’s not wrong – although there is considerably more to the story. His newest restaurant (after Nosh Kitchen Bar, Slab and Rhum) takes up a narrow space in the newly renovated Thompson’s Point retail block, sandwiched between Bissell Brothers Tap Room and Stroudwater Distillery, both of which have partnered with Big J’s, along with nearby Cellardoor Winery. Their symbiotic relationship means that diners can drink beer or cocktails while they sample three styles of fried chicken: traditional, Portland Hot and Nashville Hot. The Portland Hot is a sticky, sweet and mildly spicy hybrid that combines flavors and textures from both Southern and Korean fried chicken traditions, whereas the Nashville Hot is a pretty faithful rendition of the old classic. It’s also the best of the three, with a lava-hot attack and a slow, numbing tingle that warms you as you eat. It is especially tasty with the Hong Kong-style bubble waffle and Maine maple syrup. Every bit as good is the Brussels and kohlrabi slaw, with sweet raisins, apple and a curry-flavored dressing – not the sort of side dish you might expect from a simple chicken shack. In summer, Big J’s runs a soft-serve machine, but the restaurant is still sorting out its off-season dessert offerings. So in the meantime, we recommend you head next door to finish off your meal and soothe your numbed lips with a glass of Umbra, Bissell Brothers Brewing’s dark and chocolatey stout ($2 for 5 oz., $4 for 10 oz.); it’s the perfect bitter end to a fiery meal.