Before fried chicken captured Melbourne's attention, there was the charcoal chicken shop. They're still everywhere and remain reliable spots for a nicely charred bit of chook and a side of chicken-salt chips.

But now, there's a new breed of chicken shops. Some are run by former chefs keen to escape night shifts, others by people with no training but plenty of passion.

The settings and prices vary, but the next-gen approach is the same across the board: free-range and/or organic birds cooked low and slow, with great attention to detail. We're talking beer marinades, specialist woods for smoking and even house-made chicken salt.

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