Nashville hot chicken. Korean fried chicken. Khao man gai. Over the past decade, a gaggle of regional chicken specialties have taken the West by storm. Served in fun, bird-themed restaurants, these delectable dishes are well worth crossing the road for.
With Iron Chef America champ Viet Pham at the helm and a sly nod to cult movie Dumb and Dumber in its name, Pretty Bird has all of Salt Lake City lining up for tongue-numbing, Nashville-style hot chicken. Choose your spice level (from mild to "hot behind," a pun on restaurant kitchen lingo) and your preparation—a quarter-chicken plate or a sandwich stuffed with a crispy, boneless thigh, pickles, slaw, and tangy buttermilk dressing—and go to town.
The star menu item at Portland fave Nong's Khao Man Gai—the namesake Thai chicken-and-rice dish, steeped in intoxicating chicken oil—earned owner Nong Poonsukwattana a James Beard nomination, a national following, and, after years of hawking it from a small food cart, a bona fide restaurant with two brick-and-mortar outposts. Illustrated placards instruct newbies on how best to enjoy the multi-item plate, by alternating bites of aromatic poached chicken with sips of the accompanying ginger-and-garlic-spiked broth.
Wafts of enticing, wood-fire barbecue smoke greet visitors to What a Chicken, a lively Mexican spot in pastoral Petaluma, California—the town that once produced 10 million eggs per year. These days, for well under 10 bucks, diners at the small eatery get two hunks of seasoned grilled chicken, a choice of sides such as Spanish rice or handmade tortillas, and a creamy horchata or fruity agua fresca.