Leave it to the owners of Bolsa and Smoke restaurants to make family dining cool. Tasty, too. Located next to a trailer park on the edge of North Oak Cliff, Chicken Scratch has a funky and welcoming Austin-like vibe. Kids frolic on an oversize gravel patio. Bisected shipping containers that once sat on train cars serve as cozy nooks in which to dine. Inside the restaurant, customers step up to the counter and order from chef/co-owner Tim Byres’ kid- and foodie-friendly menu of fried or rotisserie chicken, tamales, and classic comfort side dishes. It sounds simple, but the devil is in Byres’ attention to detail. On our last visit, the chef’s cast-iron fried chicken was deep gold and addictively crunchy, finished with a bit of house-made oregano vinegar honey. Whether you order white or dark, both meats are moist and delicious, as is the pecan-smoked rotisserie chicken. Tasty tamales were stuffed with the same moist bird. Sides were a little more hit and miss. Collard greens stewed in vinegar and chiles were a favorite. But the mac ’n’ cheese was a tad salty, and mashed potatoes drowned in an aggressively greasy gravy. Still, the kids were happy. And the adults? We licked our fingers of all the fried goodness and then stepped next door to The Foundry—Chicken Scratch’s sibling bar with which it shares its patio—to have a beer and listen to live music while the kids ran around playing tag. Family values, indeed.

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