Craving a delicious crispy chicken sandwich? Skip the chains and try one of our local favorites.
Astro Donuts and Fried Chicken
1308 G St., NW; 7511 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church; food truck locations
If you don’t think fried chicken belongs between two donuts, well, think again. Customers 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.
1512 Belle View Blvd., Alexandria; 3648 King St., Alexandria,
Markos Panas runs these burger/hot dog/chicken sandwich operations out of his Beeliner Diner and Bread and Water Co. locations. 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.
Honeymoon Chicken and Ensemble
4201 Georgia Ave., NW; 4856 Cordell Ave., Bethesda
Federalist Pig pitmaster Rob Sonderman turns his talent from barbecue to the fryer at this all-day Petworth restaurant. There’s a little fried something for everyone: pickle-brined chicken buckets and sandwiches, a kid’s menu, vegetarian options (crispy ‘shrooms!), and po’ boys—plus indulgences like Champagne and loaded sundaes to match. A location also dishes up crispy chicken sandwiches at sister “ghost food hall” Ensemble in Bethesda.
4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 1501 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Moon Rabbit chef Kevin Tien’s fast-casual ventures in Ballston Quarter and Rosslyn blend Szechuan spice with Nashville hot chicken tradition. The signature: a sandwich made with fried chicken thighs, slaw, pickles, and comeback sauce. Choose from five spice levels—we’re partial to the “O.G. Hot.”
1100 15th St., NW
The new American fry joint and “bayckyard bar” at Midtown Center dishes up plenty of fun: crispy chicken and buckets, jug-size frozen drinks, swing chairs, “old people shuffleboard” (i.e. the standup kind), and all the homemade pie you can eat. Try a “Pinky’s Out” sandwich with crispy garlic sauce, shredded cabbage, cilantro, and pickles.
2000 18th St. NW; 1309 Fifth St., NE; 918 1/2 S Wolfe St., Baltimore
Chef Alex McCoy’s funky burger-and-chicken-sandwich bar—now with a Union Market stall and Baltimore location—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; 202-289-5471
Fine-dining chef Elias Taddesse infuses his Ethiopian heritage into such casual fare as a doro wat–inspired fried-chicken sandwich and berbere French fries. Try the sandwich topped with a runny egg.
918 S. Lincoln St., Arlington
Duck fat-fried local chicken sandwiches—brined in a special brew—are the secret to industry vet Rock Harper’s crave-inducing sandwiches (ditto for the crinkle fries). So no, you can’t go wrong, but the sweet-and-salty Virginia honey-butter on brioche is a hit for a reason. Bring your appetite for creations like La Reina, which involves a pupusa and brioche bun.
Nine locations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia
This popular fried chicken purveyor started out as a food truck in 2015, and has expanded to nine 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 drink, and (why not?) Maryland crab fries 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.