The Miami Herald Battle of the Chicken Sandwiches
Unless you’ve been hanging out under a rock or have shunned all forms of media, you have undoubtedly heard about the hysteria surrounding the chicken sandwich at Popeye’s. People were lining up for hours — sometimes apparently, in vain because it has been selling out in some locations — to get this new menu item. CNN has reported that the chicken chain has officially sold out of the beloved chicken.
No one is 100 percent sure how it took off. Some attribute it to Popeye’s smart marketing campaign while others say Black Twitter is responsible for getting everybody and their mama turned on to this sandwich. I can’t help wanting to see Black Twitter get people this turned up about black-owned restaurants with the same patience, diligence and gusto I’ve seen displayed about this damn sandwich.
Fortunately, one of the unintended benefits of the hysteria is the opportunity to remind people of how easy it is to get delicious chicken sandwiches and support black-owned business at the same time. It’s an especially fitting time for the reminder because August is Black Owned Business Month.
I’ve tasted the Popeye’s sandwich, and I honestly believe it has nothing on the chicken sandwiches served up at these South Florida spots:
Known for their hit entree Oxtails & Grits, this Miami eatery has jumped in the chicken sandwich war with their in-house creation of a perfectly seasoned chicken breast fried golden brown and smothered with a secret sauce. Reminiscent of the old school Big Mac sauce, the chicken is sandwiched between a soft potato bread bun. This sandwich had me reminiscing about my childhood in the 1990s. That sauce is just rockin’ and the sandwich is a true winner.
iKrave, 4799 NW 7th Ave suite a, Miami;786-747-4161.
Just Spoon’s Cafe
Spoon’s food is both nostalgic and delicious. The chicken sandwich here is a classic that locals have come to love. Served with a side of fresh cut potato fries, you can’t go wrong with this baby.
Just Spoon’s Café, 455 SW 78th Ave., Plantation; 954-621-2239.
Food that leaves J’s Kitchen is the same food that left kitchens of great African American cooks for over 400 years. His chicken sandwich is a no-frills creation with a soft bun sourced from a local bakery, topped with lettuce, tomato and a spread that gives it an amazing and delicious reception. The true beauty of this sandwich rests with the perfectly fried crust. There is nothing better that the warring textures of soft bread and the holy crunch of fried proteins.
Catch this classic sandwich in Fort Lauderdale by calling 954-548-5114.
Rolanda Benjamin of the Miami Gardens staple, Lovely’s on the Go created instant gold with its Lobster Burger. Yes, I know it isn’t a chicken sandwich, but as I was sampling all the chicken sandwiches I started craving this amazing creation. Made with fresh Florida lobster, people come from across the U.S. for this amazing sandwich created by Mrs. Benjamin and her mother. Served with an in-house secret sauce, I must be completely honest with you all, I ordered two for me and a friend, and ate hers on my way back to the house.
Lovely’s Restaurant, 1806 NW 183rd St., Miami Gardens; 305-621-7977
The New Vegan Restaurant
The New Vegan Restaurant is legendary in my world. The wizards of this eatery produced a vegan version of the chicken sandwich. How they did this, I honestly can’t tell you. My conclusion is that the eatery exists in a different dimension, and I only have access because of some miracle of physics. How else can you explain someone creating a vegan chicken sandwich that is totally plant based that beats out the real thing? HOW SWAY?
The New Vegan Restaurant, 528 NE 2nd St., Delray Beach; 561-404-5301
Chef Kenny Lawrence
Then, we have Chef Kenny Lawrence, an award-winning young chef who has created one of the naughtiest sandwiches in our region. The Vanilla Funnel Cake Chicken Sandwich with Butter Rum Sauce is worth every dime of its $14 price tag. The butter sauce is the real winner here; it takes Chef Kenny a day’s preparation to create it. The funnel cake tastes like doughnut batter dribbled into hot fat through a funnel, then fished out and dusted with sugar and butter. Lord have mercy. This damn sandwich is a whole episode.
Chef Kenny, message him on his IG at @foodfriendsllc.
One of my favorite chefs is this young brother out of Miami with Jamaican roots which he routinely showcases in his incredible cuisine. However, chef embraced his Black American roots in creating this delightful, unbelievably seasoned fried chicken sandwich. The buttermilk is key to this tenderly fried chicken breast coated in golden brown seasoned flour. Chef Lo then takes you on a bit of an international journey with his Cream Chipotle mayo with a surprising, yet welcome tanginess, on a buttery brioche bun, topped off with vine ripened tomatoes. Now, if you’re asking yourself, how can he put some of our Caribbean brothers and sisters on to this sandwich? He has you covered! Chef created an amazing pineapple bourbon glaze.
Chef Lo’s food truck, 3117 NW 7thAve., Miami; 305-360-9320
So Kahlia Johnson’s creations are some of the most memorable bites I’ve eaten throughout the years. I came across these three chicken sandwiches over a year ago, and I haven’t been able to shake it ever since. A fluffy, home style honey butter biscuit sandwiching a tender juicy buttermilk fried chicken breast topped with pepper jack cheese, maple bacon, smoked turkey, an over easy egg and a fresh scratch-made chili mango raspberry jelly is what’s in store. Or what a about a decadent red velvet biscuit stacked with a buttermilk fried chicken breast with a buttery cream drizzle? Or are you the more simple type and just want a hearty buttermilk biscuit chicken sandwich with a secret sweet and spice sauce? Whichever you are, this chef will have you coming out that wallet for more!
Penhouse Sweetz, call 754-779-9704 or visit her IG at @penthouse_sweetz_llc. She serves all South Florida, and is located in Broward County.
Kendra Young’s Trap Kitchen
Kendra Young is a powerhouse cottage cook, baker, pastry chef and bad ass chicken sandwich maker in West Palm Beach. This chicken sandwich was by far one of my favorites. What we coined the “The Bougie Chicken” is an all-white chicken breast brined with just the right amount of spice sandwiched between two brioche buns, topped with a sweet slaw consisting of green and purple cabbage, fried onion strings, two strips of thick cut Applewood bacon served with a creamy spicy relish sauce made from mayo and lightly kissed with chipotle seasoning, ketchup and hot sauce. You can grab this delicious beauty for only $10!
Kendra Young’s Trap Kitchen serves all South Florida but is in the West Palm Beach area. Check her IG @WhenKendraCooksYouEat or call in your orders at 561-252-5352.
Starex Smith is the founder of the The Hungry Black Man (www.hungryblackman.com). Having consistently run into stereotyping negatively affecting his dining and vacationing experiences, Smith decided to curate great destinations, restaurants, and discuss issues surrounding being a hungry black man. Follow The Hungry Black Man on Facebook @thehungryblackman and Instagram at #thehungryblackman!