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Thai tea fried chicken sandwich at Long Beach tiki bar Bamboo Club
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

The best fried chicken sandwiches in L.A.

Our love for fried chicken comes in sandwich form, too, and thankfully, fried chicken sandwiches can be found all over L.A.

Written by
Jakob N. Layman
,
Erin Kuschner
&
Stephanie Breijo
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What was once a dish found in old-school stalwarts, BBQ joints and diners is now ubiquitous, popping up in food trucks, flashy new neighborhood spots, limited-run collabs and fine dining restaurants alike—bringing a gluttony of perfectly crispy fried chicken to those who might have otherwise not thought twice about it. The best part? It’s arriving between buns, too, and stacked with outrageous sauces and slaws. They had a meteoric rise across L.A. a couple years ago, but fried chicken sandwiches are still on the up and up, so we found 13 outstanding options in town to crunch your way through.

RECOMMENDED: See more delicious coverage on sandwich shops and sandwiches in Los Angeles.

Our 13 favorite fried chicken sandwiches

  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • Westlake
  • price 1 of 4
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Top Chef’s Mei Lin wowed us with her elegant Arts District restaurant, Nightshade, and while her new, fast-casual fried-chicken concept also wields Asian ingredients in innovative ways, Daybird really sets itself apart—both from its predecessor, and from the rest of L.A.’s booming fried-chicken scene. Dusting tenders and massive planks of breaded Jidori chicken thighs with a hot-and-numbing Sichuan spice blend, Daybird is unique in a sea of Nashville-style “hot” operations, providing heat from a different dot on the globe. Sandwiches get topped with a tangy, refreshing cabbage slaw that’s rife with pickled chilies (unless you’re looking for less heat, in which case it can be made without) and can get dunked into house-made sauces such as the namesake Daybird sauce, a habanero ranch, and hot honey. Round it all out with a side of fries and some Hong Kong milk tea, for best results.

  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Baldwin Hills
  • price 1 of 4

No Hotville star shines brighter than chef-owner Kim Prince herself—a descendant of the founder of Nashville’s iconic hot chicken restaurant, Prince’s—but the hot chicken sandwich, called the Shaw, at her breakout restaurant gives her a run for her money. The breaded chicken breast comes available on a scale that runs from “West Coast plain” (no spice at all, but still plenty of seasoning) to “Nashville Hot,” which might destroy you: If you really want some heat, order it hot as it comes and weep for the next few days—Ms. Prince does not mess around, as we’ve learned from experience. The chicken gets topped with a scoop of Hotville’s kale slaw and pickles to cool it all down, while the bun gets a smear of creamy sauce. Plump, perfectly seasoned and packing the hottest heat in L.A.’s fried-chicken game, the Shaw is a winner.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Silver Lake

A relative stalwart—and a true predecessor to L.A.’s now-booming fried chicken sandwich scene—Alimento’s chicken Milanese sandwich is a decadent, messy thing of beauty, so stuffed with ingredients that you might need to eat it with a knife and fork. A whole buttermilk-brined thigh is breaded and fried, then topped with a slice of prosciutto cotto, pepperoncini slaw and spicy chili mayo, and it’s also available in Buffalo and “ZBQ” (that’s chef-owner Zach Pollack’s take on BBQ) varieties. We know most people come to this Italian spot for the tortellini in brodo, but you’re going to need to switch up your order for your next visit—the sandwich is that good.

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • West Hollywood

Once once of L.A.’s most beloved off-menu items and now one of L.A.’s most lauded and no-longer-secret dishes, Night + Market’s crispy chicken thigh sandwich is a must-order on a menu packed with also-delicious dishes. Surrounded by the curries and pastrami drunken noodles, though, you’ll want to save room for this Northern Thai-style chicken sandwich, which fries its bird skin-on for even more crunch and flavor. It’s hearty, and topped by papaya slaw, ranch dressing, cilantro and the sweet heat of jalapeños—all of which all pairs perfectly with a crisp Singha beer or any one of chef-owner Kris Yenbamroong’s favorite natural wines on offer.

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  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Chinatown

Howlin’ Ray’s wildly craveable chicken sandwich doesn’t hold any punches on flavor—or heat, for that matter. While you can choose between ordering the sandwich “hot” or “not,” we can’t see why anyone would want to forgo the face-tingling euphoria of Nashville hot chicken, here with a little extra sweetness. The butter bun, cabbage slaw, pickles and Southern spread help balance out the heat to keep each bite as delicious as the last. You’re going to want to order those hot shake fries, too, and if you take a date, just be sure they order their own—because neither of you are going to want to share.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Long Beach
  • price 1 of 4

Sure, Long Beach’s prime tiki den is full of some of the most fun drinks and best vinyl nights in the area, but it’s also home to one of L.A.’s most innovative fried chicken sandwiches. Forget a classic buttermilk brine—Bamboo Club adds Thai tea leaves to its mixture, soaking plump chicken breast in a flavorful marinade that lends the final product a creamy and familiar note, sans the sweetness from condensed milk you’d regularly find in the drink. There’s so much flavor in that tea-spiked brine, the final product gets imparted with earthy, complex notes making this chicken sandwich fun, creative and unlike any other in town. The buttery bun gets a slick of spicy house aioli, while it gets a little relief from a sweet, crisp cabbage slaw. Pair with a mai tai or three.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Chinatown
  • price 1 of 4
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Smorgasburg’s popular Japanese katsu sando slinger is now a brick-and-mortar sandwich shop in the heart of Chinatown, selling katsu and curry hot from the kitchen, plus cold and to-go sandos, onigiri and salads from the conbini-inspired refrigerated section. When it comes to those hot sandwiches, they come scorching-fresh from the fryer with a thin layer of crispy, crunchy coating. Flashier options such as the walnut shrimp sando and the special wagyu katsu steal the spotlight, but classics like the pork and chicken deserve just as much praise. Here, the team uses Jidori chicken and breads and fries it to still-succulent perfection, then tops it with a light slaw before surrounding it with fresh house-baked milk bread.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Fairfax District
  • price 1 of 4

Chef Neal Fraser brings Redbird’s casually perfect fried chicken to a more casual setting at Fritzi Coop in the Original Farmer’s Market. The walk-up stand serves down-home favorites—like chicken and waffles, which scream Southern comfort—but none is more quintessentially Fraser than the chicken sandwich, with all sauces made in-house and from scratch. The Classic triple-breads juicy, 24-hour-brined chicken and fries it to a golden crisp, then completes it with a thick smear of pimento cheese and some cool lettuce, pickles and tomato (we do declare)—but the Nashville-style hot and Buffalo chicken sandwiches are equally delicious, as are the sides like tots and curly fries.

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  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Westlake
  • price 2 of 4

One of L.A.’s best new Korean restaurants is giving us a new pop-up, too. The team behind Hanchic recently debuted Chimmelier, their Korean fried chicken sandwich concept where the crispy-bird gets topped with a spicy pickled slaw, lacto-fermented oiji, dashi mayo and a perilla leaf. It’s massive and crunchy, and all those pickled goods give each bite a refreshing edge. There’s more than fried chicken, too, with sides such as chapsal cheese balls, spiced potato jeon, and oiji, Hanchic’s lacto-fermented pickles with black pepper, bayleaf and garlic. Keep your eyes on Chimmelier’s Instagram for pop-up announcements and menu items.

  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 1 of 4

While this New York-style Italian-American deli made its name with a cold-cut–heavy menu in the original Beverly Grove location, the newer DTLA outpost offers a range of hot sandwiches—including a few excellent fried chicken options we often find ourselves craving. The chicken parm is a classic, but we usually gravitate back to the Carol, which stacks a pounded-thin fried chicken cutlet with fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, sautéed broccoli rabe, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sandwiched between fluffy, sesame-flecked, crusty-edged fresh bread that falls somewhere between a baguette and a hoagie loaf.

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  • Bars
  • Gastropubs
  • Santa Monica

The Misfit’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich tastes like pure sunny-day bliss: A crispy jidori chicken breast is offset by the crunch of fennel-apple slaw and a slathering of spicy mayo, while a beautifully buttered bun holds the whole thing together. It’s sweet and tart, hot and cool, with different temperatures and textures in every bite. You’ll never want to let go.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Virgil Village
  • price 1 of 4

OK, look, technically this isn’t a sandwich, but swap tortillas for buns and you’re in sandwich territory—and this entry is so good, there’s no way we couldn’t include it. This husband-and-wife pop-up is serving some of the most arresting and cheffy tacos the city’s every seen, but it also serves a Nashville-style–chicken mulita that blows so many of L.A.’s Nashville-style–chicken sandwiches out of the water. The fried breast is enormous, and gets tossed in schmaltz that’s seasoned with burnt chilies and mole spices for flavor that packs its way into every crevice. It’s all topped with a pickled slaw featuring cilantro and radish, and gets a creamy, gooey addition from quesillo. It’s massive, it’s flavorful, it’s a fried-chicken behemoth. Follow along on Instagram to find its next appearance.

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  • Bars
  • Gastropubs
  • Sawtelle
  • price 2 of 4

Plan Check is best known for its hefty burgers and innovative ketchup leather, but the Southern Fry sandwich holds its own here. Smoky, fried Jidori chicken—a huge slab of it—gets a hit of spicy pimento cheese, a spread of pickles and, because you need even more meat, a thick layer of duck-breast ham. The double meat is totally worth it, as are the sweet potato waffle fries you definitely need to order on the side.

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