Every Friday through the end of 2018, the Rant will feature a dish that stands out among Lee County’s restaurant scene. We’ll usually focus on lunch, but there aren’t any rules – we just want to let you know (if you don’t already) about the many dining options we have that are owned and operated locally. Today it’s a visit to Lee County institution Ron’s Barn for their iconic fried chicken.
Fried chicken doesn’t even get a mention when you speak the proper name of Ron’s Barn (it’s “Ron’s Barn Barbecue and Seafood,” if you’re a stickler for that sort of thing), but it’s what they do best. Don’t get us wrong, the barbecue is fine, as are their fish offerings. But, look. You came here for our opinion, and our opinion is that while there’s no such thing as bad fried chicken – just some better than others – Ron’s is among the genre’s heaviest hitters. A few quick words about the restaurant that seems like it’s been standing since Pangaea started breaking up – yes, it looks like a barn inside and out (that’s part of the charm), you go through a cafeteria-style line to get your food, where you also get a ticket, which you pay after eating. There’s another location in Harnett County.
THE DISH: Ron’s offers a meat and two vegetables lunch special for $5.59 (add a buck if you want white meat chicken or ribs), and that’s what we recommend. You’ll have to choose for yourself whether you want light or dark meat (white meat is pictured; even though dark has more flavor, there’s more of the white and we were particularly hungry on the day in question) and which of the sides you’ll take. We picked the broccoli and cheese and buttered potatoes (a longstanding joke has them being called potatoed butter, given the dish’s ratio [hey, none of this stuff is exactly healthy, but that’s why you don’t eat it every day]). And you’ll answer yes when they ask you if you want hushpuppies, because you want hushpuppies. But the star of the show is the chicken. You’ve had fried chicken before, so we don’t need to explain to you its glory. But this fried chicken hits all the high points – crispy, crunchy skin, with juicy meat below. There’s a helpful bottle of Texas Pete on each table if that tickles your fancy. It tickles ours. Great Scott, we’re hungry again.
WHAT ELSE TO TRY: We mentioned that the barbecue (that’s chopped, smoked pork if you ain’t from around here) and the seafood – primarily things like fried/boiled shrimp, fried flounder – are just fine. You’re not going to go wrong if you make those a part of your meal, particularly if you get that upgrade to the two meats plate ($6.99) or even the three meats plate ($7.99, we’re feeling dizzy). The list of vegetable sides is also worth exploring, from the macaroni and cheese to the fried okra and the steamed cabbage. It’s all plenty good. We also recommend the banana pudding for dessert (we neglected to note the price, it’s worth it) since you’ve already destroyed your diet.
Ron’s Barn is located at 3122 S. Horner Blvd. in Sanford and can be reached at (919) 774-8143. They’re open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They are closed on Monday. Check out their Facebook page here.