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Fried chicken sandiwch at Howlin' Ray's
Photograph: Jakob N. LaymanFried chicken sandwich at Howlin' Ray's

Howlin’ Ray’s just returned with delivery service so you don’t have to wait in line

It’s a brave new delivery-only world

Written by
Stephanie Breijo

One of L.A.’s most popular restaurants just quietly returned with delivery service—which means no more waiting in lines of, oh, three-ish hours for some of the best hot chicken in town. The lauded, spice-slinging fried chicken operation Howlin’ Ray’s temporarily closed in mid-March to comply with social-distance regulation and safety for both its staff and customers, but it’s currently back and bringing the heat through delivery only, and with a limited menu.

The restaurant and its owners, chef Johnny Ray Zone and Amanda Chapman Zone, have been tight-lipped about an exact reopening date, but those following along on social media have already caught that Howlin’ would be back soon. “COUNTDOWN 2 HOWLIN’ re LAUNCH 2020 is so CLOSE now we can allllmost TASTE it,” one post said, while last week, another cryptically captioned a photo of a sandwich, “KNOCK KNOCK.”

We reached out to the Zones, who after publication responded that they are testing service through Postmates with a limited radius and menu; we were able to order it for delivery in Highland Park, but not in Pasadena. At least one account on Instagram reports that they’ve already had it delivered in Echo Park, and a Time Out contributor was able to order successfully in Loz Feliz.

There aren’t any tenders or piece-based meals available (as of now), nor are there sides of fries, but what you can order are the mac salad, vinegar slaw, collard greens and sides of pickles, plus wings and the classic “sando,” with all chicken offered in four flavors on the Howlin’ spice scale: country (“no heat”), mild (“brush of heat”), medium (“feel the burn”) and hot (“burn, baby, burn”).

Howlin’ heads and spice freaks might notice the two hottest levels of Howlin’ are missing—X-Hot and the namesake HOWLIN’—so no, this isn’t exactly the same experience as visiting the famed Far East Plaza location, but remember that what we lose in fries and tenders we gain in hours of not having to wait in that line.

We placed an order to test out the new system, and, at least for us, it arrived far faster than a normal wait in the Howlin’ line, even on a good day.

To be clear, it arrived in record time that’s so shocking to us that we’re still retracing our steps: The initial wait estimate through Postmates was 45 to 60 minutes. We placed the order at 4:40pm. At 4:54pm, we received word that our driver (shout out to Isidro) was en route, a mere 14 minutes after placing the order. Our driver arrived to hand off the bags at 5:04pm, a whopping 24 minutes after placing the order and half the time of even the fastest original estimate given.

We don’t mean to be hyperbolic—we are truly serious when we ask: Is this the fastest anyone has ever received Howlin’ Ray’s?

We’re betting timing won’t always be so fast, especially once word gets out, and will also depend on your proximity to the Chinatown restaurant and at what time you order. Still, even with an extended wait time, hanging for that prized hot chicken in your sweats while watching Netflix still beats standing on your feet in a crowd of people.

This story has been updated with a response from Howlin' Ray's regarding their new delivery service.

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