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15 Fantastic Fried Chicken Sandwiches in the Bay Area

Where to find extra crispy options from mild to hot

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It’s hard to resist a fried chicken sandwich when it’s really done right, ideally with crispy and juicy chicken nestled on a pillowy bun. Fortunately, the Bay Area has many spots that cater to the craving — and the vast majority don’t involve standing in line for an hour at Popeyes, where the sandwich hype shows no sign of slowing down. Instead, try one of the many dedicated fried chicken sandwich shops that call the SF Bay Area home, as well as the assorted butcher shops, arcade bars, and tiki dens that also serve excellent varieties of fried chicken on a bun. Whether you prefer white meat or dark meat, drenched in hot sauce or topped with herb slaw, here are some great chicken sandwiches to seek out now.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Hotbird

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This Nashville-style hot chicken pop-up from Iyasare alums Aaron Nam and Caleb Longacre deserves the long lines it generates at Presidio Picnic appearances on Sundays and in Oakland on First Fridays. They fry Mary’s chicken breasts, dip them in hot oil mixed with spices, finish them with dry spice powder, and serve them on buns with apple vinegar slaw, dill pickles, and sauce. Customers choose their spiciness level: Mild, medium, hot, or burnin’ (with Carolina Reaper peppers). Yes, people do cry, and even medium is pretty hot. Next up: In January, they plan to open their first permanent location at 1355 Market Street, in the new Twitter building food hall.

Robin Eagan

2. Brenda's Meat & Three

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919 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 926-8657
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At a classic southern meat-and-three, you could pick fried chicken as your protein, and round it out with a few sides. But Chef Brenda Buenviaje wisely slides it onto a sandwich, as well. The “Big Mama” features spicy fried chicken, and don’t even try to ask about the secret recipe. 

A close-up of a fried chicken sandwich Brenda’s Meat & Three

3. Hi Tops

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2247 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 551-2500
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This gay sports bar in the Castro is known for big screens and a big scene (their motto: “Cold pitchers, hot catchers”). But don’t underestimate the food, and in particular the chicken sandwich, which features white meat fried very thoroughly and topped with a punchy slaw.

A massive chicken sandwich at Hi Tops Hi Tops

4. SF Chickenbox

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1123 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 738-8838

SF Chickenbox is a fried chicken surprise tucked inside the Trademark sports bar in SoMa. Get a box of expertly-fried chicken with mochi muffins and a choice of side, or swing for the sandwich, simply stacked with shredded lettuce and a special sauce — add extra dash of chef Christian Ciscle’s Moombah sauce, a sweet, spicy take on Baltimore’s mumbo sauce. Online orders are available, too.

Chicken anda . mochi muffin in a paper boat tray Caleb Pershan

5. Flybird

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35 Kearny St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 872-9292
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Union Square’s newest fast-casual fried chicken sandwich shop comes courtesy of Sababa chef Guy Eshel, an aviation-themed restaurant that takes customers around the world with its selection of breaded fried chicken cutlets on Boudin Bakery buns. Options include the “Mexico City” (topped with black beans, avocado, pickled radishes and cotija cheese), the “Med” (which features hummus. za’atar, and tahini), or the more straightforward slaw-and-pickle “Classic.”

6. The Bird

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115 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 872-9825
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This fried chicken sandwich-dedicated shop comes from the team behind Super Duper, and it’s doing what that local burger chain does so well, but this time, for chicken. There’s one location downtown, ideal for lunch breaks, and their main sandwich offering is only eight bucks, prepared with a berbere spice rub in two heat levels, regular or spicy. Celery, apple slaw, mayo, and pickles provide some acid and added crunch. 

Disclosure: Carolyn Alburger, the Cities Director for Eater, is married to the Bird partner and chef Blair Warsham. She has recused herself from involvement in any Bird coverage on Eater.

Aubrie Pick

7. Brown Sugar Kitchen

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1, Ferry Building, Suite 41
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 938-8090
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Tanya Holland’s celebrated soul food restaurant has excellent fried chicken, available with waffles or all on its own. At the Ferry Building location, you can also get it in sandwich form, stacking a fried thigh on a torpedo roll, with creole aioli and spicy slaw. 

8. Old Kan Beer & Co.

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95 Linden St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 338-3965
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Old Kan is a big indoor-outdoor brewery with strong community ties. Local brewer Adam Lamoreaux partnered with Chef James Syhabout on the menu, so the fried chicken sandwiches are just as legit as those at Hawking Bird, but a little milder, with aioli and slaw on a sesame bun. It goes down easy with an old-school pale ale.

9. Xingones at Fort Green

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736 Washington St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 519-4607
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One of the East Bay’s most popular pop-ups, Xingones is known for its Mexican tacos and its American-style fried chicken and waffles. And there’s probably no dish on the menu where the two cuisines come together as beautifully as the torta-style fried chicken sandwich, which comes topped with a curtido slaw and house-made remoulade.

10. World Famous Hot Boys

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1601 San Pablo Ave
Oakland, CA 94612

Nashville hot chicken, all the rage from Tennessee to Los Angeles, has hit the Bay Area, and it looks like it’s here to stay. Self-declared “World Famous” Hotboys has been casing the area with pop-ups at Forage Kitchen (478 25th Street) where customers can find them from Tuesday to Friday, 11 am. to 4 p.m. They’re making it permanent in Uptown Oakland this fall. Their chicken comes in whole, half, and quarter portions, or on a sandwich, and the heat levels turn up from “southern” and “mild” to “hot hot.” Try crinkle-cut fries or pimento mac and cheese on the side.  

11. Aburaya Go

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380 15th St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 603-1040

This popular punk rock fried chicken joint’s second, takeout-oriented location is the only place where you can nab this fully loaded sandwich: two pieces of Japanese-style chicken karaage, sweet-and-spicy Japanese barbecue sauce, onion, tomato, avocado, and coleslaw — all served between two slices of Texas Toast.

Aburaya

12. The Kon-Tiki

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347 14th St #3906
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 823-2332
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Step into this dimly lit tiki den at the edge of Oakland’s Chinatown for classic rum cocktails, fried food, and over-the-top decor. In between rounds of mai tais, the fried chicken sandwich from chef Manuel Bonilla is a total delight, slathered with both kewpie mayo and chili honey.

A fried chicken sandwich at the Kon-Tiki Tarik Kazeleh/The Kon-Tiki

13. Hawking Bird

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4901 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 593-2376
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Oakland native James Syhabout may own Commis, a Michelin-starred tasting menu restaurant, and Hawker Fare, serving colorful Thai street food — but that doesn’t mean he’s not into fried chicken sandwiches. At Hawker Fare’s chicken-focused spinoff, Hawking Bird, Syhabout’s sandwich includes a chicken thigh marinated in garlic and ginger, dipped in rice flour batter, and double fried before it’s topped with a fierce slaw featuring lots of lime and chiles.

Sandwiches and a beer at hawking bird Hawking Bird

14. Bakesale Betty

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5098 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 985-1213
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Alison Barakat is the Bay Area’s original fried chicken lady, rocking a blue wig and courting a line around the block in Temescal. Her sandwich is an Oakland urban legend that precedes the latest fried chicken sandwich hype, made with buttermilk-brined breast meat and a jalapeño slaw. Use both hands and don’t forget to grab napkins.

A fried chicken sandwich sits on a table at Bakesale Betty Bakesale Betty

15. Clove And Hoof

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4001 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94611
(510) 547-1446
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This restaurant and butcher’s shop sources from local ranches to serve the best cuts around. As one would expect, there’s lots of meat on their prepared food menu, and a burger is a popular choice. But the fried chicken sandwich is a hot take, covered in caramelized fish sauce, with pickled pineapple, herb salad, and curried mayo.

The glass window outside Clove and Hoof Clove and Hoof

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1. Hotbird

San Francisco, CA 94129
Robin Eagan

This Nashville-style hot chicken pop-up from Iyasare alums Aaron Nam and Caleb Longacre deserves the long lines it generates at Presidio Picnic appearances on Sundays and in Oakland on First Fridays. They fry Mary’s chicken breasts, dip them in hot oil mixed with spices, finish them with dry spice powder, and serve them on buns with apple vinegar slaw, dill pickles, and sauce. Customers choose their spiciness level: Mild, medium, hot, or burnin’ (with Carolina Reaper peppers). Yes, people do cry, and even medium is pretty hot. Next up: In January, they plan to open their first permanent location at 1355 Market Street, in the new Twitter building food hall.

2. Brenda's Meat & Three

919 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94115
A close-up of a fried chicken sandwich Brenda’s Meat & Three

At a classic southern meat-and-three, you could pick fried chicken as your protein, and round it out with a few sides. But Chef Brenda Buenviaje wisely slides it onto a sandwich, as well. The “Big Mama” features spicy fried chicken, and don’t even try to ask about the secret recipe. 

919 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94115

3. Hi Tops

2247 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114
A massive chicken sandwich at Hi Tops Hi Tops

This gay sports bar in the Castro is known for big screens and a big scene (their motto: “Cold pitchers, hot catchers”). But don’t underestimate the food, and in particular the chicken sandwich, which features white meat fried very thoroughly and topped with a punchy slaw.

2247 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114

4. SF Chickenbox

1123 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Chicken anda . mochi muffin in a paper boat tray Caleb Pershan

SF Chickenbox is a fried chicken surprise tucked inside the Trademark sports bar in SoMa. Get a box of expertly-fried chicken with mochi muffins and a choice of side, or swing for the sandwich, simply stacked with shredded lettuce and a special sauce — add extra dash of chef Christian Ciscle’s Moombah sauce, a sweet, spicy take on Baltimore’s mumbo sauce. Online orders are available, too.

1123 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94103

5. Flybird

35 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Union Square’s newest fast-casual fried chicken sandwich shop comes courtesy of Sababa chef Guy Eshel, an aviation-themed restaurant that takes customers around the world with its selection of breaded fried chicken cutlets on Boudin Bakery buns. Options include the “Mexico City” (topped with black beans, avocado, pickled radishes and cotija cheese), the “Med” (which features hummus. za’atar, and tahini), or the more straightforward slaw-and-pickle “Classic.”

35 Kearny St
San Francisco, CA 94108

6. The Bird

115 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Aubrie Pick

This fried chicken sandwich-dedicated shop comes from the team behind Super Duper, and it’s doing what that local burger chain does so well, but this time, for chicken. There’s one location downtown, ideal for lunch breaks, and their main sandwich offering is only eight bucks, prepared with a berbere spice rub in two heat levels, regular or spicy. Celery, apple slaw, mayo, and pickles provide some acid and added crunch. 

Disclosure: Carolyn Alburger, the Cities Director for Eater, is married to the Bird partner and chef Blair Warsham. She has recused herself from involvement in any Bird coverage on Eater.

115 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105

7. Brown Sugar Kitchen

1, Ferry Building, Suite 41, San Francisco, CA 94111

Tanya Holland’s celebrated soul food restaurant has excellent fried chicken, available with waffles or all on its own. At the Ferry Building location, you can also get it in sandwich form, stacking a fried thigh on a torpedo roll, with creole aioli and spicy slaw. 

1, Ferry Building, Suite 41
San Francisco, CA 94111

8. Old Kan Beer & Co.

95 Linden St, Oakland, CA 94607

Old Kan is a big indoor-outdoor brewery with strong community ties. Local brewer Adam Lamoreaux partnered with Chef James Syhabout on the menu, so the fried chicken sandwiches are just as legit as those at Hawking Bird, but a little milder, with aioli and slaw on a sesame bun. It goes down easy with an old-school pale ale.

95 Linden St
Oakland, CA 94607

9. Xingones at Fort Green

736 Washington St, Oakland, CA 94607

One of the East Bay’s most popular pop-ups, Xingones is known for its Mexican tacos and its American-style fried chicken and waffles. And there’s probably no dish on the menu where the two cuisines come together as beautifully as the torta-style fried chicken sandwich, which comes topped with a curtido slaw and house-made remoulade.

736 Washington St
Oakland, CA 94607

10. World Famous Hot Boys

1601 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

Nashville hot chicken, all the rage from Tennessee to Los Angeles, has hit the Bay Area, and it looks like it’s here to stay. Self-declared “World Famous” Hotboys has been casing the area with pop-ups at Forage Kitchen (478 25th Street) where customers can find them from Tuesday to Friday, 11 am. to 4 p.m. They’re making it permanent in Uptown Oakland this fall. Their chicken comes in whole, half, and quarter portions, or on a sandwich, and the heat levels turn up from “southern” and “mild” to “hot hot.” Try crinkle-cut fries or pimento mac and cheese on the side.  

1601 San Pablo Ave
Oakland, CA 94612

11. Aburaya Go

380 15th St, Oakland, CA 94612
Aburaya

This popular punk rock fried chicken joint’s second, takeout-oriented location is the only place where you can nab this fully loaded sandwich: two pieces of Japanese-style chicken karaage, sweet-and-spicy Japanese barbecue sauce, onion, tomato, avocado, and coleslaw — all served between two slices of Texas Toast.

380 15th St
Oakland, CA 94612

12. The Kon-Tiki

347 14th St #3906, Oakland, CA 94612
A fried chicken sandwich at the Kon-Tiki Tarik Kazeleh/The Kon-Tiki

Step into this dimly lit tiki den at the edge of Oakland’s Chinatown for classic rum cocktails, fried food, and over-the-top decor. In between rounds of mai tais, the fried chicken sandwich from chef Manuel Bonilla is a total delight, slathered with both kewpie mayo and chili honey.

347 14th St #3906
Oakland, CA 94612

13. Hawking Bird

4901 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
Sandwiches and a beer at hawking bird Hawking Bird

Oakland native James Syhabout may own Commis, a Michelin-starred tasting menu restaurant, and Hawker Fare, serving colorful Thai street food — but that doesn’t mean he’s not into fried chicken sandwiches. At Hawker Fare’s chicken-focused spinoff, Hawking Bird, Syhabout’s sandwich includes a chicken thigh marinated in garlic and ginger, dipped in rice flour batter, and double fried before it’s topped with a fierce slaw featuring lots of lime and chiles.

4901 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

14. Bakesale Betty

5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
A fried chicken sandwich sits on a table at Bakesale Betty Bakesale Betty

Alison Barakat is the Bay Area’s original fried chicken lady, rocking a blue wig and courting a line around the block in Temescal. Her sandwich is an Oakland urban legend that precedes the latest fried chicken sandwich hype, made with buttermilk-brined breast meat and a jalapeño slaw. Use both hands and don’t forget to grab napkins.

5098 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

15. Clove And Hoof

4001 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611
The glass window outside Clove and Hoof Clove and Hoof

This restaurant and butcher’s shop sources from local ranches to serve the best cuts around. As one would expect, there’s lots of meat on their prepared food menu, and a burger is a popular choice. But the fried chicken sandwich is a hot take, covered in caramelized fish sauce, with pickled pineapple, herb salad, and curried mayo.

4001 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94611

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