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Red-Hot Nashville Chicken Pop-Up Finds Permanent Home on Market Street

Hotbird will roost at a Market Street food hall

Robin Eagan

If the current frenzy for Hotbird holds, would-be customers should probably start lining up right now at 1355 Market Street, where the hot chicken sandwich pop-up will open a permanent location in January. Hotbird’s forthcoming stand will occupy a portion of the expanding Market on Market Street, a food hall in the base of the Twitter building that’s currently growing to take over vacant restaurant spaces in the building (the old Bon Marche and Dirty Water).

Currently sold (and typically sold out) on Sundays at Off the Grid’s Presidio Picnic, Hotbird’s chicken might be SF’s most credible comeback to hits like Howlin’ Rays in LA and Tennessee progenitors like Prince’s. Founders Aaron Nam and Caleb Longacre (of Berkeley’s Iyasare) start their sandwiches with Mary’s chicken breasts: They’re fried, dipped in hot oil mixed with spices, dusted with spice powder, and served on buns with apple vinegar slaw, dill pickles, and sauce. Customers set their preferred spice level at mild, medium, hot, or burnin’ — though for the record, the duo recommends medium for first timers who like spicy food.

“There are customers who are pretty confident in their spice tolerance,” says Nam — sometimes too much so. “I’ve seen tears.”

The new permanent home for Hotbird is a long time coming. “It’s a beautiful space,” says Nam — centrally located and, as with Off the Grid, set among other food options. But it’s not what they had in mind originally. Hotbird started in Oakland, and Nam and Longacre have hoped to find a permanent location there. Not yet, but Oakland’s loss is SF’s gain.

Stay tuned as Hotbird settles in: Some new menu items at the permanent location, like fries and wings, are in the works, too.

The Market

1355 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 767-5130