Picnic’s take on the fried chicken sandwich stands alone among Southern barbecue spots
Many would give up all the chicken sandwiches just for the chance to return to that moment right before their first visit to Chick-fil-A.
But a group of so-called millennials tried the famous chicken sandwich and waffle fries for the first time, to a resounding meh.
Organized by Business Insider, the tasters found the sandwich salty and undeserving of its hype, shocked and disturbed, as if this were life's first disappointment. One taster admitted to not liking pickles but liking the amount of pickles on the sandwich, which makes sense maybe. The waffle fries fared far better, though one taster docked points for distinctive potato-ness.
Chick-fil-A claims to be the originator of the chicken sandwich, a multibillion-dollar stroke of genius to put boneless fried chicken on a bun with a couple of pickles. If it's not the chicken sandwich's creator, it's certainly the standard bearer, the foundation on which all other chicken sandwiches are built.
Because of the limits of fast food and a dining age obsessed with ever tastier creations, there are plenty of better versions out there.
If you or your millennial find Chick-fil-A underwhelming, here are six sandwiches at five North Carolina spots that have further perfected the fried chicken sandwich, each in its own way.
One of North Carolina's fried chicken crown jewels will, of course, have a killer chicken sandwich. Ashley Christensen's joint has two: a classic one with a boneless thigh fried and crispy on a potato bun, topped with a special sauce and "shredduce." The other is not for the faint of heart, a Nashville-hot chicken sandwich with searing spices on white bread topped with pickles. Though tears may blur your eyes, you'll finish it with a smile.
Amid excellent bowls of ramen and pretty-sure-this-is-what-you-came-here-for chicken wings is Michael Lee's Korean chicken sandwich. Unabashed and unashamed in its homage to Chick-fil-A, M Kokko brines a chicken breast in the pickling liquid left over from the restaurant's housemade pickles. It's then fried tempura-style and topped with pickles and garlic aioli.
In North Carolina, just about every barbecue place also does fried chicken. That goes for the New Q folks at Picnic in Durham as well. But their take on the fried chicken sandwich stands alone among Southern barbecue spots. Picnic starts with a boneless thigh and tops it with pickled onions and Old Bay aioli.
First and foremost, the Wooden Nickel is famous for its wings. After diners kept asking for its "Nickel-fil-A" to take a dip in wing sauce, the Hillsborough pub liked the idea so much it was put on the menu. The Nash-Fil-A nods to Nashville-style hot chicken, a brined breast tossed in hot sauce and ending up on a bun with coleslaw and pickles. This is what happens to bar food in North Carolina.
Hailing from Asheville, this one is only semi-local, but driving three or so hours is a small penance for what has been called the best fried chicken sandwich in America. Back in the day, owner Elliot Moss once worked at a Chick-fil-A and now eclipses its famous sandwich with one of his own. Buxton Hall's take smokes the chicken under a whole hog before frying, then gets topped with pickles, both pimiento and American cheeses and Alabama white sauce.