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.
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.
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