Wings and fries plate. Photo: Amanda Harry/Livin' Charlotte

Harold’s Chicken and Ice Bar is a Chicago-based chain restaurant founded by Harold Pierce in 1950. In Chicago, however, residents know the restaurant as Harold’s Chicken Shack. 

The chain opened its first Charlotte location in University City last month. Since it opened, it has become a popular spot, having over 375 Google reviews. 

The Livin’ Charlotte team visited Harold’s earlier this week. Here’s what we thought. 

About Harold’s 

Harold’s Chicken Shack began as H&H, which Pierce started with his wife. Its specialties included chicken feet and dumplings. 

According to its website, he developed the restaurant out of necessity because larger fast-food chains avoided Black neighborhoods. 

The University City restaurant, a franchise location, is an expanded version of the restaurant, with more sit-down traditional seating and lounge space. The restaurant is split into two sections; one for dining and one for private entertainment or lounging. The space has a large bar with all-around seating and is the restaurant’s centerpiece. Booths line the walls while four-top tables fill the remaining space.

Setting the scene 

When we had lunch at Harold’s, it was pretty packed for a Monday afternoon. 

Initially, we thought there might be a wait because few people were eating when we arrived, but the service was surprisingly fast. After ordering, most of our food arrived within about fifteen minutes. 

Harold’s was also playing Black classics, including Jasmine Sullivan and Lauryn Hill. 

Expectations and service

Before we ate our entrees, we tried an appetizer; the southwest eggrolls were delicious and came with a sweet chili dipping sauce that made it the perfect starter. The eggrolls were fried crispy on the outside with a softer interior filled with chicken, corn, cheese and black beans.

The chicken is the star at Harold’s, and we’ve been told on more than one occasion that it’s the best in the city. Native Chicagoans raved about it, so our expectations were really high. We opted for the chicken tenders, and while they were okay — not at all bad —  they weren’t “we gotta tell every person we know” good. We also tried the famous “mild sauce,” a sauce that can be served on the side or as a chicken toss. The mild sauce was tangy and sweet, and tasted similar to a barbeque sauce. 

The fries were fresh and seasoned well. 

The real star of our experience, though, was the customer service. It was awesome. Our waitress really took care of us, made sure we understood the menu and was attentive to our table. 

Final thoughts

Overall, Harold’s Chicken is a nice place to dine. It’s clean, modern, and has a great vibe. It’s one of those places where you know you can get pretty good food at a reasonable price. 

The “it’: The southwest eggroll, plain chicken tenders with fries, chicken tenders tossed in mild sauce, and plain chicken wings

Overall score: 3.3/5, an average of scores including 2.5, 3.5, and 4 from the Livin’ Charlotte team

Price: About $15 per person 

What we loved: The restaurant’s atmosphere, customer service

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