It was OK. I tried the new chicken sandwich by Popeye’s – you know, the one causing riots when locations of the national chain eatery sell out. The best I can offer is meh. It’s a good sandwich and far better than anything I’ve ever eaten at the Cajun-inspired restaurant. The marketing campaign behind this sandwich is unquestionably brilliant. It wouldn’t surprise me if the powers that be are intentionally holding back the supply to engineer more demand.
The only thing I resent more than writing about a chain restaurant is creating lists, so I figured I’d knock them both out in one clickbaiting, subjective column. So, with my dignity swirling the drain, here’s a list of local chicken sandwiches that blow away that crack-between-a-bun at Popeye’s. I hope this reaches you before someone else decides to hold a Popeye’s employee at gunpoint or another child goes missing.
1. The crispy chicken sandwich ($14) at The Tavern (2755 S Hulen St, 817-923-6200) is a picture of understated perfection. The lightly fried, well-brined bird shares space with dill pickles, red onions, and Chef Felipe Armenta’s famous (according to me) cole slaw in between a freshly made bun.
2. Speaking of Armenta, The Tavern’s sister restaurant, Pacific Table (1600 S University Dr, 817-887-9995), serves a Korean version ($14) of basically the same sandwich, but this one is piled high with a pepper-laden slaw that adds a tangy kick.
3. Little Red Wasp (808 Main St, 817-877-3111) follows a similar recipe for its crispy chicken masterpiece ($13), with slaw and jalapeños crammed into a fresh-tasting potato hoagie.
4. It may be a chain, but at least Charleston’s Restaurant (3020 S Hulen St, 817-735-8900) is a local one. The Tanglewood-area eatery’s grilled chicken and avocado club ($14) is loaded with blackened bird, avocado, bacon, tomatoes, sprouts, Swiss cheese, and honey-mustard.
5. The Delicious Chicken ($12) at the Bearded Lady (300 S Main St, 817-349-9832) is another non-fried option. The recently moved eatery’s version is stacked with a grilled breast, bacon, Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and housemade hickory-smoked garlic aioli.
6. If you really want to eat healthy and avoid gunplay, the Busta Rhymes Chicken Wrap ($5.95) at Reata’s sister restaurant, 203 Cafe (215 Commerce St, Ste 203, 817-782-9004), is stuffed with oven-roasted dark meat, white onions, celery, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and smoked Paprika and mayonnaise, all packed into a spinach tortilla.
7. Pretty much everything on the menu of another local chain, Super Chix (1217 8th Av, Ste 115, 682-312-6284), is way better than Popeye’s. I’m a huge fan of the Nashville Hot ($5.99) and its spicy dipping sauce.
8. Since I’m including Dallas-based chains, East Hampton Sandwich Company (1605 S University Dr, 817-887-9928) offers a full menu of fried and grilled birds on a bun, all of which make Popeye’s version look like middle-school cafeteria food. Try the Brunch All Day ($10), with spicy fried chicken, American cheese, maple bacon, a fried egg, honey, and white truffle hot sauce slathered on a pretzel bun.
You can probably add a hundred more chicken sandwiches to this list, but I’m out of column inches, so before you wait more than two hours for a so-so sammy, try out a local place, and, you know, stay safe out there.