The Best Thing I Ate All Week: Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Riley’s

This is my new favourite happy-hour deal.

There’s something inherently rebellious about ordering fried chicken at a white tablecloth restaurant. I mean, it’s on the menu, so it’s obviously allowed. But to waltz into a room (or onto a patio) that’s as beautiful as Riley’s and order up a deep fried treat feels… sassy.

For your reference, here’s what the patio looks like.

I suppose that’s how I was feeling when I tried the downtown restaurant’s happy hour menu. The fish and steakhouse opened in May 2022, so they’re celebrating just over a year in service, and the happy hour prices are pretty friendly: $7 for a margarita, $8 for truffle fries, $19 for one and a half pounds of mussels or clams (or both—I got half and half in harissa coconut cream, and it was delicious).

And maybe it’s in the name—it’s called Riley’s Fish and Steak, after all, and not Riley’s Real Good Fried Chicken. Regardless, I got it—the dish is called “Buttermilk Crispy Chicken” on the menu, and the description lists spiced honey and pickles as supporting characters.

fried chicken with pickles

The fried chicken was fantastic. It’s evenly, but lightly coated in that spiced honey, giving it an excellent sweet kick, and those crunchy pickles on the side add an element of freshness that make it feel less indulgent and more balanced. It’s served up in smaller pieces that are perfect for sharing. And—the best part if you’re paying attention to the value (aren’t we all?)—it’s a pretty hefty serving. The no-fuss metal bowl and newspaper it comes in is filled to the very top; it could easily be a meal for one person (if that one person wanted to eat only fried chicken and pickles, to which I say, you go girl). At happy hour, this comfort-food hero is $12. Oh, and it’s gluten-free.

Other standouts include the salt and pepper calamari (crispy and thick—more squid than batter, the way I like it) and the aforementioned harissa coconut cream steamer and margarita (our super-personable server said it would be the best $7 margarita I’d ever had, and I’d argue it was better than several $14 margaritas I’ve had).

So, don’t let the white tablecloth fool you: this fried chicken is down-to-earth delicious.


Buttermilk Crispy Chicken
$12 at happy hour (daily from 2:30 to 5:00)
Riley’s Fish and Steak
200 Burrard St.