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Where to find top fried chicken sandwiches in Southern California

Crack Shack photo by Julee Ho

Our roundup of eight SoCal fried chicken sandwiches will help stoke your appetite.

In trying times, we all need comfort food. And although your go-to dish may vary, many diners are clamoring for fried chicken sandwiches. Much like the gourmet burger trend a few years back, the deliciously simple idea of a piece of fried chicken sandwiched between a bun has provided a wonderful blueprint for chefs to build sought-after masterpieces on. 

A few caveats: We avoided fast food (sorry, Popeyes' it sandwich of the moment) and Nashville-style chicken (that’s a story for another day). While many people will debate which truly is the best, none of the sandwiches on our list will disappoint.  

 

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Taproom Restaurant

Paso Robles

firestonebeer.com

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Taproom Restaurant's fried chicken sandwich | Photo by Nick Rufca

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Taproom Restaurant's fried chicken sandwich | Photo by Nick Rufca

Within this behemoth of a brewery is a restaurant serving up hefty food well paired with its vast beer selection. Behold the eatery's fried chicken sandwich, a meal that dares to steal the spotlight from whatever beverage is nearby. A massive slab of buttermilk fried chicken thigh spills out in all directions from a toasted sesame bun. Topped with a snappy coleslaw (those are spears of jalapeño and pickled vegetables in the mix) and hot honey, you may just be glad that there’s beer on the menu. Available for dine-in and takeout. 

 

Holdaak

Orange and Fullerton

holdaak.com

Holdaak's spicy chicken sandwich | Photo by Nick Rufca

Holdaak's spicy chicken sandwich | Photo by Nick Rufca

There’s fried chicken, and then there’s Korean fried chicken, a category that comes with its very own legion of fans. Here, impossibly crunchy chicken strips are placed on a bun griddled to golden perfection, then capped with a refreshingly cool blend of pickled onions, slivered jalapeños, and shredded daikon. The Original Chicken Sandwich is lovely, but the smart move for heat-seeking eaters is the spicy version. It features chicken doused with dry chile powder, chile sauce, and a spicy aioli for a triple threat of fiery flavors. Takeout only.

 

The Crack Shack

Locations in Century City, Costa Mesa, Encinitas, Pasadena, and San Diego

crackshack.com

The Crack Shack's Firebird sandwich | Photo by Julee Ho

The Crack Shack's Firebird sandwich | Photo by Julee Ho

When a fried chicken sandwich crosses paths with a renowned celebrity chef, you know the results will be mouth-wateringly good. Such is the case at Top Chef alum Richard Blais’ fried chicken mecca, where the free-range chicken is locally sourced and the atmosphere recalls a fun family picnic. Though there are several drool-worthy sandwich options to choose from, you may just put the Firebird sandwich on repeat order. On this well-crafted standout, a fried chicken thigh is spiced just right, then piled high with crispy onions, sliced pickles, and ample creamy ranch dressing underneath an onion-speckled potato bun. Available for dine-in and takeout. 

 

Son of a Gun

Los Angeles

sonofagunrestaurant.com

Son of a Gun's fried chicken sandwich | Photo by Nick Rufca

Son of a Gun's fried chicken sandwich | Photo by Nick Rufca

When a fried chicken sandwich becomes the must-order item at a seafood-focused restaurant, you know there’s something mighty flavorful tucked into that super-soft bun. A hearty slab of juicy chicken rests under a jalapeño and pickle slaw so plentiful, that whatever greens happen to tumble out of the sandwich can be easily repurposed into a substantial side salad. A “rooster aioli” infused with a smattering of piquant hot sauce guarantees that every inch of chicken has a tantalizing heat. Delivery and takeout available.

 

Chicken Ranch

Palm Springs

eatchickenranch.com

Chicken Ranch's fried chicken sandwich | Photo by Nick Rufca

Chicken Ranch's fried chicken sandwich | Photo by Nick Rufca

The chicken is sliced thin and lightly breaded, a departure from the sizable chicken servings elsewhere on this list. Hungry sandwich eaters need not worry, however, as this sandwich comes stacked with three fried chicken servings on the bun, resulting in an eye-popping, towering creation. The crackly bun is spread with an appropriate layer of Sriracha aioli, and the well-composed coleslaw of cabbage and carrots adds a touch of refreshing crunch. Your taste buds will love just how well these distinct components come together in every mouthful. Dine in and takout available. 

 

Night and Market Song

Los Angeles

nightmarketsong.com

Night and Market Song's fried chicken sandwich | Photo by Nick Rufca

Night and Market Song's fried chicken sandwich | Photo by Nick Rufca

This much-loved eatery creatively reinvents the fantastic street food of Thailand for the sit-down restaurant crowd, and its Asian-inspired take on the fried chicken sandwich has become a genuine menu sensation. The gigantic serving of succulent fried chicken thigh alone would make this meal a winner; the generous toppings of tangy papaya slaw, thick tomato slices, fresh cilantro, and house-made ranch dressing team together to make this sandwich a culinary home run. Currently available for delivery and takeout only.

 

Bruxie

Locations in Orange and Los Angeles counties

bruxie.com

Bruxie's The Original

Bruxie's The Original

The classic breakfast combination of fried chicken and waffles is playfully reinvented as a hand-held sandwich that satisfies your sweet and savory cravings at exactly the same time. The yummy waffle “bun” has a subtle sweetness and sturdy crispiness. It’s well matched with the awesome sandwich combinations you can order to go inside of it. The Original is a great place to start for first-time visitors. On this, a sharp cider-kissed slaw and tantalizing chile-infused honey work well with the chicken–waffle combo. For those craving something a bit more outrageous, the BAMF, with mac ‘n’ cheese in the mix, will surely satisfy. Dine-in and delivery via Postmates. 

 

1865 Craft House and Kitchen

San Luis Obispo

1865slo.com

1865 Craft House and Kitchen's fried chicken sandwich | Photo by Nick Rufca

1865 Craft House and Kitchen's fried chicken sandwich | Photo by Nick Rufca

The first thing you’ll notice is the delectable-looking bun: It’s so buttery it glistens. But don’t let it distract you from the goodies within—most importantly, that tempting, thick piece of juicy buttermilk fried chicken. The sandwich is given a punch of heat and a touch of sweet by a drizzle of cayenne maple syrup. The clever addition of a purple daikon slaw mixed with Fresno chiles assures that things are only going to get addictively hotter with each bite. Dine in and delivery.

 

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