Feature

17 Fried Chicken Sandwiches You Must Have in LA

By Lesley Balla  |  April 1, 2015

It's hilarious that Chick-fil-A thought they'd have a lock on fried chicken sandwiches once they made it to LA. If anything, the arrival of the (often-controversial) chain has only put a fire under our local chefs' stoves and deep fryers. In searching for the best new sandwiches around town, we also found a slew of fried chicken sandwiches that deserve to be on their own must-try list. These birds-and-buns aren't merely topped with pickles and butter, but pickled green tomatoes or papaya, eggs, kimchi slaw and plenty of Sriracha mayo. Here's where to find 17 of the city's best.

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Alimento: Although Zach Pollack has garnered plenty of attention for his handmade pastas and the rustic Italian menu at this diminutive Silver Lake spot, a fried chicken sandwich isn't out of place. The Italians call it "milanese" or "milanesa;" we just call it delicious. Here, a fried chicken cutlet is sandwiched between a homemade bun with spicy puntarelle slaw, pepperoncini and prosciutto. The greens pack a little bitter punch, the pepperoncini some acid and prosciutto a fatty salty edge. All together, they're fantastic. Find the sandwich on the dinner menu and on the soon-to-launch brunch menu.

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Canelé: Knowing which fried chicken sandwich you’ll get at the Atwater Village bistro depends on the day. On Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays, it’s the Wild at Canele version from chefs Ria and Matt Wilson, two thick and juicy thighs topped with pickled papaya on a freshly baked pan de sel roll. At Saturday and Sunday brunch, it’s the classic chef Corina Weibel has been serving for years, a tower of golden fried thighs topped with a pickled green tomato and mayo. You may have go back twice in one week to compare.

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Night + Market Song: At his colorful Silver Lake Thai restaurant, chef Kris Yenbamroong combines flavors from both his Thai heritage and being a kid growing up in LA with this sandwich. Fried to a golden crunchy brown, the juicy chicken thighs are topped with jalapeño, cilantro, shredded green papaya salad with lime and fish sauce, and then good old-fashioned ranch dressing. Because everything tastes better with ranch.

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Son of a Gun: For a seafood spot, the fried chicken sandwich here is pretty legendary. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo knew what they were doing when they created this messy beast. It's all about the construction: the juicy and tender chicken topped with bread and butter pickles, a mound of slaw and a heavy dollop of Sriracha-spiked aïoli. Grab at least three napkins and go to town.

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ink.sack: A staple at the sandwich shop since the beginning, Michael Voltaggio’s cold fried chicken sandwich is like the best leftover fried chicken sandwich you’ll never be able to make. Topped with housemade ranch cheese, Gindo’s Spice of Life hot sauce and shredded lettuce, it’s good (and cheap) enough to have two. Now also available at LAX.

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Plan Check: What chef Ernesto Uchimura can do with fried chicken… One of the best dishes at the burgeoning chain is the smoky fried chicken, and if you don’t get it with milk gravy, yam preserves and pickled okra, get it on a bun. The Southern Fry sandwich has that addictive smoky fried Jidori chicken topped with spicy green pimento cheese, duck breast ham and pickles. Every texture, spice and flavor simply works. Find it at all three locations: on Sawtelle, near Downtown and on Fairfax.

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Trencher: While the Echo Park sandwich shop always has a fried chicken banh mi, the weekend-only The Cure gets our vote because it has everything: fried chicken, pan gravy and an egg on a biscuit. It comes with smashed potatoes, because you’ll need those, too. Served only at brunch, Saturday and Sunday, 11 AM-2 PM.

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Food + Lab: The West Hollywood cafe (and fantastic picnic-provisions spot) is known for its chicken schnitzel, a flattened, breaded and fried chicken patty. The best schnitzel sandwich has lingonberry chutney and aïoli on ciabatta, but for a more Americanized bite, there’s a Buffalo buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with iceberg lettuce too.

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Picnic: This new Silver Lake cafe specializes in sandwiches and plenty of 'em. But the fried chicken sandwich is chef and owner Shanna Lynn Milazzo's muse, something she changes every week. It can be smothered in Sriracha sauce and creamy blue cheese dressing; Frank's Hot Sauce and crumbled blue cheese; ketchup, lettuce and tomato; or even macaroni 'n' cheese. That's right. Macaroni tumbling out of a bun stuffed with a very good piece of fried Jidori chicken. Check out Facebook for that week's special. P.S. There's also a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a sign (there isn't one), website (ditto) and a few more tables.

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Top Round: Known for slow-roasted beef sandwiches topped with homemade cheeses and grilled onions that won’t break the bank, there’s now a fried chicken sandwich at the new-old-fashioned joint worth going out of your way for. Marinated in buttermilk and pickle juice, hand-breaded and fried to a perfect golden brown, the bird-on-a-bun comes two ways: with pickles and mayo or with lettuce, tomato and avocado. It puts anything Chick-fil-A serves to shame. And do not even think about leaving before getting the frozen custard in a cone, as a sundae with your choice of toppings or mixed together for a concrete.

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Free Range: Although this is the only truck on the list, it’s pretty easy to track it down for breakfast and lunch tempura-fried chicken sandwiches. Every Monday through Friday, find it parked in front of Coffee Commissary on Fairfax from 7 AM-11:15 AM. Fried chicken for breakfast? Hell yes! There’s a honey-Sriracha fried chicken biscuit with over-easy egg. For lunch, the truck is parked at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in the Arts District on Tuesday only (12:30-3 PM), and at 3425 Motor Avenue the other weekdays. Find it and you’ll be rewarded with the classic sandwich topped with Fresno chile coleslaw, whole grain honey mustard and lettuce on a toasted slightly sweet Portuguese bun.

The Hermosillo: This Highland Park watering hole (from the same guys behind L&E Oyster Bar and Bar Covell) has a fine food menu too, including the achiote-marinated chicken that's fried to a golden brown and topped with avocado, coleslaw and chipotle mayo on a brioche bun. You’ll want a Highland Park Brewery Hello, LA IPA to go along with it. The brewery shares the space and pours whatever they have kegged at the bar.

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Superba Snack Bar: Roll up to this Rose Avenue restaurant in Venice for brunch and go directly to this sandwich: fried chicken topped with jalapeño-pimento cheese and pickled green tomato on a soft brioche bun. Simple.

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Ledlow: The fried chicken cutlet at Josef Centeno’s newest Downtown spot is good enough to eat on its own, but it’s even better with bacon, pickles and Swiss cheese. Oh, and cracklin’s. Only available at lunch.

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Barrel & Ashes: It's called the Best Damn Chick'n Sandwich Ya Ever Had, and while that may be a bit hyperbolic for the Studio City barbecue spot, it's definitely close. Topped with housemade pimento cheese, jalapeño and slaw on a milk roll, the lunch-only staple is definitely tasty.

Holy Cow BBQ: The Santa Monica BBQ joint across from the Brentwood Country Mart features delicious smoked meats and great sides, but the Fried Chicken Sando is still one of the most popular offerings. The buttermilk-battered chicken is topped with honey-ale mustard, bacon, Gruyère and bread-and-butter pickles for a sweet-savory combination. 

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Nick's Manhattan Beach: This growing chain (there are several locations around Long Beach and points south) specializes in...everything, from kale and quinoa salads to enchiladas. Which is why there's a fried chicken sandwich, because fried chicken. The crispy golden chicken breast comes with Havarti cheese, honey mustard, a sweet and tangy slaw studded with dried cranberries, almonds and arugula on a long sesame seed bun.