We Bay Area folk are nothing if not dedicated to the fried chicken sandwich. We’ve been known to eat them for a middle-of-the-night snack, or for breakfast during a grueling 9am Zoom meeting. And what is life, really, if not one long-winded pursuit of the best fried chicken sandwich? Lucky for us, there are tons of excellent ones in SF and Oakland that are just a walk or a drive away. Here are 13 to try right now.
The SoMa chicken spot has an excellent fried chicken sandwich that’s also one of the more affordable in town - their signature is only $8. It’s loaded with pickles, mayo, and a sweet, crunchy apple slaw, and comes in one of two ways: regular or spicy. Both forms are delicious, and the spicy one packs some heat (but don’t expect to sweat). We recommend ordering the sandwich as part of their “Happier Meal” - which comes with a side of curly fries and a beer for $12.50 - and enjoying it somewhere sunny.
If you regularly have dreams about sandwiches, WesBurger is where you need to be. This Mission spot has it all - smash burgers, regular burgers, and, of course, fried chicken sandwiches. We like the Southern-style with buttermilk chicken. It’s extra crispy, as big as your face, and topped with red cabbage and miso aioli. Another thing you’ll probably dream about: their excellent Nashville hot chicken sandwich with mayo and pickles.
Aside from your dog Zoom-bombing a meeting, there aren’t too many things we can rely on these days... Except for the fried chicken sandwich at Monk’s Kettle. The Mission tavern makes a great one that’s stacked with a well-seasoned chicken thigh, apple slaw, and pickles and then stuffed between two fluffy buns. Right now you can enjoy it with a pint on their patio, or order the sandwich for takeout and delivery.
SF Chickenbox’s original fried chicken sandwich is a strong contender for our favorite sandwich, ever. And the beauty of it lies in its simplicity - and the fact that it nails all the pillars that make a great fried chicken sandwich: crunchy breading, juicy chicken, and a fresh, squishy bun. It comes with lettuce and house sauce, and it’s flawless. There’s also a version with jalapeño, hot sauce, and red onion, or a buffalo one with pickles and ranch. Whatever you order, it all goes well with Old Bay-seasoned fries, or their chewy mochi muffin.
Catered To You is a takeout window in Uptown Oakland that focuses on grilled and fried chicken, beef, and fish. We love coming here for their fried chicken sandwich (technically, it’s a fried chicken tender sandwich). The chicken is doused in a sweet BBQ sauce (a welcome change from aioli), and is finished with crisp lettuce, red onion, and tomato. The hours can change, so plan ahead by checking out their Facebook.
When your sibling has a reputation as iconic as Rich Table’s, you’d better perform. And if Rich Table is I AM...SASHA FIERCE, RT Rotisserie’s slightly sweet fried chicken sandwich is A Seat At The Table - equally brilliant and complex, yet a little more lowkey in its genius. RT Rotisserie’s moist, well-seasoned chicken is topped with pickled onions, chipotle yogurt, and cabbage - all of which are stuffed between a soft brioche bun. If you’re in Hayes Valley or NoPa, you’ll want to stop by to witness the greatness.
The casual Hawker Fare spin-off does their fried chicken sandwich with a garlicky, gingery chicken thigh that’s doubled fried. In other words, prepare for a satisfying crunch. And if you need more convincing that this is the flavorful chicken sandwich you need now, consider this: the chicken is slathered with a homemade charred chili jam, and topped with a coleslaw with tons of chiles, cilantro, and mint.
In the search for the best fried chicken sandwiches in the city, all roads lead to Hi Tops. This sports bar in the Castro does theirs right. It stars a juicy chicken breast that’s extra crispy, a sweet coleslaw, and a soft brioche bun. But our favorite part is the tangy and slightly spicy aioli that gives each bite a nice kick.
The new takeout window in Berkeley makes burgers, rice bowls, and beef barbacoa plates. But what got us hooked on this to-go spot is their fried chicken sandwich. The Fat Cat is a work of art - a crispy buttermilk chicken breast layered with sweet marinated peppers, swiss cheese, fried shallots, coleslaw, and tomato. It is massive, messy, and perfect.
World Famous Hot Boys should be synonymous with greatness - or, at the very least, their Nashville hot sandwiches should be. The former pop-up is now a brick-and-mortar spot in Uptown Oakland, and their perfect, crispy sandwich is what we order when we want to feel spice, heat, and joy. You can choose from various heat levels that range from no spice to training wheels to painfully spicy. There’s even a Hot Hot sandwich that requires you to fill out a quick questionnaire when you order. Serious sandwich stuff.
If you’re only going to make one thing, make sure it’s as good as Bakesale Betty’s fried chicken sandwich. The buttermilk chicken is crispy, the jalapeño coleslaw is tangy and slightly spicy, and overall, this sandwich will change your life. Just don’t forget one of their perfectly baked cookies when you order to-go.
Like World Famous Hot Boys and Cali Alley, we’ve talked a lot about Hetchy’s Hots in recent days, and with good reason. The Square Pie Guys spin-off in SoMa makes great Nashville-inspired hot sandwiches that come with delicious sauces, massive cuts of chicken, and toppings that range from Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to taco spice to Calabrian chilies.
Clove and Hoof is an Oakland butcher shop that doubles as our go-to sandwich shop. They make everything from cheesesteaks to burgers to pulled pork sandwiches. But our favorite is the fried chicken sandwich with a fish sauce caramel. They change up what goes on the sandwich from time to time (right now, you can get it with green curry mayo, pickled pineapple, and mixed herb and jalapeño), but the chicken always stays the same - savory, sticky, and tender.