Cuisine Scene: Fried Chicken
As international a city that Long Beach is, it also has deep midwestern and southern roots. Look no further for evidence of this, cuisine-wise, than its many, varied and delicious offerings of fried chicken found in all parts of town. In sandwiches, atop waffles, between biscuits, rolled in tortillas, of varying geographic origins, flavors and heat indexes, Long Beach is home to a lot of interesting–delicious–birds. Here’s a few.
Having established itself as one of the city’s best and most popular restaurants over the past 10 years, The Attic (3441 E. Broadway) blurs the line between traditional and creative-contemporary Southern/New Orleans cuisine, i.e. Gumbo meets Mac & Cheetos. Perhaps the blur is seen clearest in its fried chicken presentations. While it has Chicken and Waffles on the menu, its version differs in the level of spice as savory, juicy chicken is paired with fluffy, sweet–but not too sweet–waffles. Likewise, its Crispy Chicken Sandi is a marriage of chicken and fluffy biscuit with a delicious kick provided by a mashup of tabasco aioli, dill pickle, white onion and cheddar.
ROSCOE’S HOUSE OF CHICKEN ‘N WAFFLES
This may have been the first place you thought of when you saw the subject matter. Roscoe’s (730 E. Broadway) is more than a restaurant, it’s a meeting place, a community touchstone. It’s also delicious. People go there to eat and meet and generally be happy. What makes them happiest of all is Roscoe’s chicken; flavorful and juicy, whether eaten with gravy and onions, or slathered in maple syrup. Despite Roscoe’s name, you don’t have to have waffles with your chicken, they have it with great side dishes. Of course, some can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want the sweet waffles with a ball of butter.
This place does chicken right. Its Pot Pie Bites are one of the most popular and delicious items on its menu with its buttery, flaky pastry and savory filling of chicken coated in gravy. When it comes to fried chicken, they offer Spicy Fried Chicken & Waffles, offering its own unique take, with rye waffle, chili crisp, fried egg, scallions and a sherry maple syrup. Yeah. The Ordinarie (210 The Promenade N) Fried Chicken Sandwich can be had at various levels of spiciness and presents a delicious balance of crispy buttermilk chicken on a cushy brioche bun, both spice and savoriness balanced by pickles and a sweet cabbage slaw, all of it piled impressively, deliciously, high.
CLUCK & BLAZE
Nashville hot chicken has become quite the phenomenon and Cluck & Blaze (4501 E. Carson St.) is one of the reasons for that. Its rather straightforward menu offers chicken sandwiches along with Cluckin’ Fries, a mashup of fries, chicken, slaw and pickles. But perhaps its most notable item is a gargantuan chicken breakfast burrito filled with hot chicken, scrambled eggs, shredded cheese, tater tots and spicy cream sauce. The whole thing is toasted on a griddle, creating an other-worldly melted cheese crust on the tortilla. If you really want to kick things up, ask for your burrito “Jerry-style” which includes an egg over-easy that ups its gooey goodness.
GUS’S WORLD FAMOUS FRIED CHICKEN
This Memphis export is well-known for producing some of the most flavorful, moist and least greasy fried chicken around. You can tell from its menu that this is a no-nonsense outfit. Gus’s (2580 Long Beach Blvd.) has a few starters–fried okra, fried green tomatoes, fried pickles (sensing a pattern?)--a few sides–mac & cheese, greens, etc.--and then pretty much the rest is chicken, all of it with the signature reddish hue that denotes a cayenne peppery heat that hits the taste buds at the exact moment the deliciousness kicks in. The secret of the latter is a thin breading and fatty, though not too fatty, meat. A word to the wise. Come ready to eat. The best way to experience Gus’s is immediately.
This may be the most unique, wide-ranging destination on this list. Though located in a cozy spot on Broadway, Lacquered (3632 E. Broadway) has an impressively extensive menu that moves in all sorts of directions. On top of serving Simply The Best Fried Chicken in Long Beach (their title), they offer a fried chicken starter, called Crispy Chicken Crack, a Crispy Chicken Ranch Salad and fried chicken in the Crispy Nacho Taco. Lacquered brines its organic birds for up to 10 hours, allowing them to hang dry overnight, then seasoning the skins to create a flavorful pop.
Big in Japan, Torisho (730 Long Beach Blvd.) opened its first American location in Long Beach last year. It serves karaage, the Japanese take on fried chicken, distinct from the American version in that it involves marinating the chicken, then coating it with either potato starch, beaten eggs or panko before deep frying. What is produced is a lighter skin and meat that has absorbed seasoning so that it tends to radiate with flavor. Many people also find the chicken to be less oily. This takeout-only location offers different versions of karaage including a crispier katsu as well as a chicken sandwich and a bento box that comes with cabbage, rice and potato salad.