Checking Out Chicken Joints Around San Diego
Fried Chicken. If done right, it’s the type of meal that can cure any hangover and turn enemies into friends. Biting into crispy bits and juicy meat can be a religious experience. A little one-on-one time with the Man above, if you will. When batter-dredged meat dips into a pan and a sizzle echoes throughout the back of the house, time stops. Pan-fried, deep-fried or pressure-fried, there are a variety of ways to create this masterpiece. However, achieving a crispy crust while maintaining tender meat is an art in my book. Here are a few of my favorite artists around San Diego:
Dunedin – North Park
As a gal from the South, hot chicken is a staple. Fried in all the right nooks ‘n crannies and spicy as hell, the habanero fried chicken served at Dunedin in North Park packs a juicy punch. This dish is served in a cast iron skillet with spiced corn, sweet peppers, and potatoes. I paired my bird with a Spellbound Petite Sirah, which slapped those bold flavors smack in the face. Totally unnecessary but completely necessary was the decision to end things with the S’mores dessert. Mama always said go big or go home, right? Round one of fried chicken war went to Dunedin. Nice job, guys.
Address: 3501 30th Ave., San Diego, CA 92101
Proud Mary’s Southern Bar & Grill – Kearny Mesa
Yes, Proud Mary’s shares quarters with a Ramada hotel in Kearny Mesa. Yes, the outside of the building looks like some quirky 1970’s dive. The joint seems like the right place to lose yourself in a bottle of whiskey and share philosophies on life with a bartender named Jack. And yes, they serve the best damn fried chicken on this side of the Mississip’. Mary’s has one chicken plate: a four-piece-mix served with a veggie medley, mash and gravy, and biscuits with both honey and butter. We grabbed a bar table in the back corner, drank a few bourbons to warm our souls, devoured our fried chicken and enjoyed live jazz by Stoney B Blues. Proud Mary’s for the win.
Address: 5550 Kearny Mesa Rd., San Diego, CA 92111
Crispy Fried Chicken – City Heights
I stand behind the battered and deep-fried meat at this City Heights hole-in-the-wall. A ‘lil bit salty, a lotta’ bit juicy – come here to satisfy your inner Southerner with a mixed-five-piece. I added fried okra, corn on the cob and slaw to my Styrofoam box of food and couldn’t have been happier. Ask for extra napkins and don’t mind the creepy clown games or McDonald’s walls. You’ll love it here.
Address: 4919 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92115
I have a serious appreciation for fried chicken karaage and the chefs at Tajima hit this dish out of the park, every time. Owner Sam Morikizono has done right by this Japanese delicacy, serving the deep-fried meat as an appetizer alongside mayo for dipping. The nuggets come out piping hot, so wait a second before biting into them. One too many times has my tongue been punished for my lack of patience. But once you do, oh my God. Yes. All the yes. Throw in a cold one and a bowl of boiled edamame to please the ticker, and you’re set.
Address: Multiple (my favorite is East Village location)