Pizza or pasta?

Waffles or pancakes?

Donuts or cupcakes?

Over time there have been many hot debates about people’s food preferences. Especially classics like pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and tacos the common question is “who does it best?”. With two major chicken chains opening in Bloomington this year, I’ve gone out to settle the ultimate debate: does Raising Cane’s, Dave’s Hot Chicken, or Chick-Fil-A serve the best chicken? 

Our Process

To evaluate each chicken chain with the least amount of bias my roommates and I hit all three places in one night so that the taste of each menu item would be fresh in our minds. We all went into this adventure having tried Chick-Fil-A before so we decided that had to be our last stop since it may have an unfair advantage. We also correctly predicted that we would be too full at the end to properly enjoy the meal and may have to rely slightly on past knowledge.


Each location was given a rating from 1- 10 in the following categories:

· Restaurant environment

· Menu Variety

· Chicken Sandwich

· Chicken Tenders

· Fries

· Sauce

· Lemonade

First Stop: Raising Cane's

Milena Alappatt

Raising Cane’s easily had the coolest environment. In Bloomington, IN this location features neon signs, brick walls, a huge space with lots of different kind of seating, and disco balls hanging from the ceiling. Cane’s was also given the "Tenderest Tenders" award because out of the three chicken chains we tried their chicken tenders were very soft on the inside. Being able to pull the chicken apart and watch the heat come off it, made Cane’s tenders stick out amongst the rest.

Although my roommates and I could not settle the debate over which sauce was best, Cane’s sauce certainly was awarded high marks. Tasting like a combination of black pepper, ketchup, and chipotle the Cane’s sauce was tangy and ultimately the most unique that we tried that night. Additionally, Cane’s fresh lemonade that struck a perfect balance between sweet and sour was certainly a talking point.

Where Cane’s was lacking was menu variety as they only serve chicken tenders and their sides. However, I have to note that their Texas toast, my favorite item on the menu, was absolutely amazing. Their sandwich was given lower ratings because it was difficult to consume because it was just three tenders between two pieces of (the best) bread. And the fries, were just a tad too salty. Overall, Raising Cane’s did not disappoint and with the limited menu they focus on what they make best: chicken fingers.

Milena Alappatt

Stop 2: Dave’s Hot Chicken

Dave’s Hot Chicken, very accurately named, serves chicken with a wide range of spice levels from “no spice” to “Reaper”. Trying chicken from many levels of the heat scale we were able to taste the actual quality of the chicken with its crispy outside and tender (but not Cane’s level tender) inside. What really stood out here was not the chicken itself but the rub. The complexity of the spices with a hint of honey, Dave’s chicken sandwich stood out as being one of the best we had. The coleslaw provided a pleasant palate cleanser while the pickles brought a bright crunch to balance out the heat of the chicken. We also gave Dave a lot of points for their fries which were seasoned with additional spices other than salt and pepper which differentiated them from their competitors.

Milena Alappatt

Although word in Bloomington indicates a favorable opinion towards Dave’s sauce, it was rather plain on its own. Tasting strongly of garlic and mayo it received the worst rating by all three taste testers compared with Cane’s and Chick-Fil-A’s more unique sauces. Dave also lost significant points for their lemonade. To be fair, unlike Cane’s and Chick-Fil-A who provide fresh lemonade, Dave’s uses standard Coca-Cola products. It’s also worth mentioning that our Dave’s experience was certainly the most fun as we had to sign a waiver to eat their spiciest flavor “Reaper”. The environment was cool with the graffiti walls and bright red accented furniture. It was less cozy than Cane’s but certainly gave college hangout vibes.

For at least two of the three taste testers, Dave’s would be the place where we would be most likely to return to. But before coming to any conclusions we had one final stop to make.

Stop 3: Chick-Fil-A

Unlike Dave’s and Cane’s, Chick-Fil-A is more closely associated with fast-food versus fast-casual. Unfortunately, by the time we made it to Chick-Fil-A we had to order takeout, but that aside Chick-Fil-A certainly has mastered frying the chicken to perfection. They managed to strike a balance between Cane’s and Dave’s having a consistently crispy outside but a super soft middle making this the best chicken overall. Chick-Fil-A also has a more extensive menu than the other two chicken chains with a specific nod to the free ice cream that they gave us, which I’ll argue rivals McDonald’s famous soft serve and McFlurrys.

It is also no secret that Chick-Fil-A has an amazing fresh-squeezed lemonade. And for three people who don’t like pulp in their lemonade, the taste was too good we barely realized the pulp was there. Sweet and sour but not so much that it is sickening, this lemonade hit the spot at the end of our chicken tour.

The only consistent place that Chick-Fil-A scored poorly was environment, likely since environment isn’t a main priority in the fast-food space. Some of my roomies rated Chick-Fil-A sauce as being lower than the others while some of us rated it highly. I personally thought the fries were the worst here due to a lack of flavor while the waffle fry texture made all the difference for my fellow taste testers. But that is why I brought three testers to get a variety of opinions and come to an ultimate conclusion. 


The moment you have been waiting for.

After totaling all the scores and averaging the results between the three testers our winner pick is…


Receiving an average of 52 points out of 70 Chick-Fil-A was the clear winner. Although each location had perks and specialties, Chick-Fil-A is the most well-rounded of the three. Providing the best quality chicken, a crowd-pleasing sauce, an extensive menu, and fresh sides, Chick-Fil-A was individually favored by each tester leading us to settle the great chicken debate.