Regulars at J's Fish and Chicken have a special name for the locally owned fast food joint's specialty.
They call it "crack chicken."
Latasha Perry, a longtime employee at the J's at 3012 N. 27th St. in Kansas City, Kan., says that's because of the lemon pepper seasoning that cooks dust onto the fried-to-order wings, tenders, thighs and breasts. It's even on the fried hush puppies.
"Most people ask for extra," Perry says. "I have one customer who wants me to just take the top off (the seasoning) and just pour it."
J's, which also has locations at 2831 Prospect and 5412 Prospect, is owned by Shahid Mahmood and his family. Mahmood, who is from Pakistan, opened the first J's at 28th and Prospect six years ago. The second Prospect location opened in 2017.
All three locations are bare bones, grab-and-go spots, so most customers take their chicken to go.
On my first visit, I found myself eating the crispy, juicy tenders in my car in the parking lot. My upholstery still smells like lemon pepper seasoning — and I'm kind of OK with that.
J's menu also features fried tilapia, shrimp, catfish and a variety of sides: Green beans, homestyle mac and cheese made with Velveeta, fried okra and french fries.
Every fried menu item is coated with the special lemon pepper seasoning, which adds a bright and super-salty punch of flavor. The seasoning is pretty potent — if you ask for extra, you should be prepared.
Pro tip: If you're in a hurry, call in your order 20 minutes in advance, because the marinated and battered chicken is fried right before it's tucked into brown bags with the customer's choice of sauce (barbecue, honey mustard and bright red hot sauce are a few options).
J's best-selling items are the 20-piece fried whole wings ($15.99) and the 20-piece legs and thighs ($13.99). Other popular picks include the large shrimp ($5.59 for a 10-piece) and combos such as the five-piece tender combo ($9.59), which comes with a side and drink.
For dessert, there's banana pudding ($1.99), peach cobbler ($2.99) and thick wedges of layer cake ($2.99) baked by Vee's Sweets and Treats. The strawberry lemonade flavor is a customer favorite.
J's recently added a new menu item: hot wings. The wings are divided into drumsticks and drumettes before they're fried and tossed with bright red hot sauce.
These wings will make your lips tingle, but they're not super-duper hot like some other wings you might find in KC.
The hot wings cost $6.99 for 10 and are also called "wing dings." They don't come with lemon pepper seasoning, so if you're addicted to the stuff, stick with the basic fried chicken.
Looking for more great hot wings in the KC area? Check out this Parkville bar, which serves up the kind made famous in Buffalo, New York.