Craving a delicious crispy chicken sandwich that’s not from a massive and/or controversial chain? Here are some homegrown favorites.
Astro Donuts and Fried Chicken
1306-1308 G St., NW; 7511 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church; 1819 Seventh St., NW
If you don’t think fried chicken belongs between two donuts, well, think again. Patrons can build their own crispy chicken sandwiches on savory doughnuts—or cheddar biscuits and brioche buns—or go for house specialties like the Old Bay All Day. The bird bomb stars fried chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and sriracha mayo on an Old Bay doughnut.
2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
The Foggy Bottom location of this casual Indian venture—which shares a chef with Rasika—serves a unique (and delicious) Parsi spiced chicken sandwich with beet-and-tomato chutney.
1512 Belle View Blvd., Alexandria
Markos Panas launched this burger/hot dog/chicken sandwich pop-up inside his Bread and Water Company bakery/bread destination earlier this year. The buttery, grilled brioche buns—made in-house—are the star. Get them filled with fried chicken in one of three ways: with housemade dill pickles and aioli; with hot sauce, Sriracha slaw, and Swiss cheese; or Cordon Bleu-style, draped with ham, melted Swiss, and dill.
Chicken + Whiskey
1738 14th St. NW
The South American chicken joint, which boasts a secret bar in the back and curbside window up front, offers a jumbo-sized sandwich: cassava-breaded chicken on a jalapeño-cheddar roll with spicy ají amarillo mayonnaise, tomato, iceberg lettuce, Greek yogurt-mustard sauce, crispy bacon, and pepperjack cheese.
4856 Cordell Ave., Bethesda
Entrepreneur Steve Salis’s “ghost food hall” in downtown Bethesda offers a preview of Honeymoon Chicken, a collaboration with Federalist Pig chef Rob Sonderman that’s opening soon in Petworth. We’ll go for the hot-honey Nashville with shredded lettuce, spicy pickles, crispy onions, and comeback sauce on a brioche bun.
4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Moon Rabbit chef Kevin Tien’s fast-casual stand in Ballston Quarter blends Szechuan spice with Nashville hot tradition. The signature: a fried chicken sandwich made with chicken thighs, slaw, pickles, and comeback sauce. Choose from five spice levels—we’re partial to the “O.G. Hot.”
2000 18th St. NW; 1309 Fifth St., NE
Chef Alex McCoy’s funky burger-and-chicken-sandwich bar—now with a Union Market stall—doesn’t shy away from spicy, bold flavors. We’re currently craving the hot Mumbo Bun with a fried chicken thigh, Thai chili mumbo sauce, curtido (the pickled cabbage slaw typically matched with pupusas), dill pickles, and ranch mayonnaise.
449 K St., NW
Chef Elias Taddesse fuses his Ethiopian heritage and fine-dining training into burgers and fried chicken at this casual Mount Vernon Triangle restaurant. Try a doro-wat-inspired fried chicken sandwich with turmeric slaw and a fried or hard-cooked egg.
918 S. Lincoln St., Suite 2, Arlington
Industry vet Rock Harper initially launched his fried chicken sandwich venture in Glover Park, but has since relocated it to an incubator space in Arlington. Harper uses local birds and brines the breasts before they’re fried in duck fat and canola—so no, you can’t go wrong, but the sweet-and-salty Virginia honey-butter on brioche is a hit for a reason.
3176 Bladensburg Road, NE; 1301 U St., NW; 4600 Wisconsin Ave., NW
This popular fried chicken purveyor started out as a food truck in 2015, and has expanded to three fast-casual locations (and counting). Buttermilk-fried-chicken sandwiches come several ways; we like the classic with vinegary slaw or Buffalo sauce and blue cheese.
926-928 U St., NW
Great cocktails and fried chicken? Sign us up. This U Street cocktail haunt is all about vacation vibes for summer. Our ideal feast: an original fried chicken sandwich with pickles and “special sauce,” a cooling rum swizzle, and (why not?) Maryland crab dip on the side.
2309 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria
Nicole Jones’s Del Ray biscuit shop dishes up two tantalizing chicken sandwiches. The Classic comes with pimento cheese and house pickles, while the Not So Classic arrives with benne-tahini and fermented hot sauces, za’atar spice, and crispy red onions. Advanced online ordering is encouraged.
139 Spring St., Herndon; 531 Montgomery St., Alexandria
Heat seekers should check out these free-range hot-chicken spots. Owner Michael Choi offers six spice levels for the chicken—you have to sign a waiver if you order the most fiery, tamed with slaw and pickles on a potato bun.