Twists on the classic comfort food are all the rage.
Need a fried chicken fix? These days you probably don’t even need to cross the road to get it. And though the tried and true is still available, a number of innovative chefs have set out to create entire cuisines with fried chicken at the center, elevating picnic food to a quality dining experience.
In a remodeled Old Pasadena warehouse space, celebrity chef Richard Blais has built an homage to chicken amid exposed brick, high ceilings, and a giant flat-screen TV that dominates one wall. Serving 5- and 10-piece fried chicken meals, along with delightful sides and creative sandwiches such as the Coop Deville and the Firebird, Crack Shack delivers a fresh, new take on the once familiar. And there’s a full bar. 30 W. Green St., Pasadena, crackshack.com
Braise & Crumble Cafe
“The most important thing for me is not making the chicken until it’s ordered. That way it’s the happiest and juiciest for every customer. To do otherwise is against our religion—the religion of chicken,” says Shannon Hart, who along with Tyler Wu owns this casual spot next to the Ice House. Hart learned how to make fried chicken from her grandmother and remains true to those recipes and techniques today—secrets she says she’ll take to the grave. Her boneless, skinless fried chicken is abundantly moist and bursting with flavor. You’ll also find pulled pork, short rib tacos, and dusted mac and cheese. 40 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena, braiseandcrumble.com
Daddy’s Chicken Shack
Formerly part of Smorgasburg LA, the Sunday food market in Downtown Los Angeles, Daddy’s has moved to a small, mostly take-out space in Old Pasadena. Chef Pace Webb is the genius behind the signature chicken sandwiches, including the Big Daddy—very lightly breaded and well-spiced, topped with Napa slaw and sriracha mayo on a brioche bun—and its more assertive cousin, the Spicy Daddy. 11 W. Dayton St., Pasadena, daddyschickenshackla.com
Some places just get too much buzz to be ignored. There’s a reason everyone talks about this place, and why there are still hours-long waits two years after its grand opening. When it comes to Nashville “hot chicken,” Howlin’ Ray’s is the real deal. All-natural, hormone-, and antibiotic-free chicken comes in 6 degrees of heat, from “country” (none) to “howlin’” (we dare you). Get a quarter or a half bird, tenders, or the classic sandwich with slaw, pickles, and special “comeback sauce,” and taste what you’ve been missing. 727 N. Broadway, Ste. 128, Los Angeles, howlinrays.com