The Streets had far more pickles than they could ever use. They tried frying the leftovers, offering them as a crunchy appetizer, but there were just so many pickles.
They’d been testing brines for Roy G’s fried chicken sandwich (knowing full well that Chick-fil-A brines theirs in pickle juice) and they’d gone through every brand on the market. Pickles from now juice-less jars began to pile up, drying out in the kitchen. Finally, they landed on a brine: The best, it turns out, was a local company with more to offer than its name.
Best Maid’s pickle juice was the Iron Man armor for their sandwich. It locked in the soul of the chicken breast’s true flavor — not a bite was dry.
Once, they let it sit in a daylong brine in the Best Maid juice: It ultimately haloed the chicken breast with a bizarre, verdant green. When you closed your eyes it tasted right, but the sight was “alarming,” as Mariel Street jokes.
They wheeled the timing back to 12 to 14 hours in the brine, dashing the bath with brown sugar and salt to lessen the punch of the pickleback. Two different kinds of buttermilk, a dredge through spiced flour, fried and the chicken is the star of one of the best damn sandwiches in the city. It’ll knock Chick-fil-A clear out of the ring.
Roy G’s was born in a pandemic. It opened in the few days before the lockdown, and it’s been the most difficult of Street’s family-run restaurants to keep going. When they were able to get people into Roy’s dining room, they were limited to a max occupancy of 16 people.
“I would have never in my mind opened up a restaurant with the occupancy inside being 16,” Street says. “It was kind of survival time.”
Liberty Burger and Street’s Fine Chicken, the family’s other concepts, were adaptable to a global pandemic. Roy G’s, at 4001 Cedar Springs in Oak Lawn, was a sit-in bar, and takeout didn’t catch on with the same ease. There was barely a pre-COVID age for Roy G’s, and there was definitely no PPP money.
“It’s hanging in there,” she says.
With the booze rules from the state, they’ve been working to sell enough food (that is, more than alcohol) to stay open. Still, the hardest thing for Street is seeing any empty dining room: It’s “an emotional blow,” she says.
The fried chicken sandwich is the No. 1 seller at Roy G’s. It’s one of many such sandwiches helping other mom-and-pop shops remain in business in a crisis.
Three craggy chicken tenders on Mike’s Sandwich, named after owner Son and Tram Dao’s son, at Mike’s Chicken.
The dining room is open, but Mike’s fried chicken tenders, speckled with pepper like stars in the sky, are best eaten alone in the car. You don’t want anyone to see you with the dark, crackle-magic of the fried shell. The tenders have eddies and swirls, suspended in time by the auburn frying process. Juices, wonderfully salty, are sealed beneath. The cabbage slaw is cut long-ways, into smoky, spicy strips, as orange as a campfire. This tiny shack with pine wood, run by the family team of Son and Tram Dao, sits next to the coin laundry on Maple Avenue. Don’t share. Get extra sauce.
4234 Maple Ave. (Oak Lawn). 214-443-7822. Takeout only.
The Dirty South ($14)
There’s an inside joke with the staff: Chef Danyele McPherson adds Texas Pete hot sauce to everything she cooks. Her fried chicken sandwiches definitely get hammered with it — the buttermilk soak for the chicken has plenty of salt, garlic, and Texas Pete. Her sandwich is crunchy enough to send glasses off of your table: a custom flour blend that includes rice and tapioca keeps things cracking. Honey from Sabine Creek, Texas, finds butter to make a sauce that causes gaps in time.
5631 Alta Ave. (Lowest Greenville). 214-821-3415. Dine-in, takeout.
Signature Baking Company provides a custom bun for chef Heidelberg for the Cardi B.
The Cardi B ($11.99)
In the prep for their fried chicken sandwiches, a small portion of the thigh meat is set aside to be donated to people experiencing homelessness. It’s part of chef Airric Heidelberg’s mission, as important as ever, for the restaurant where he creates everything — including the salt.
“Every Cardi B does really go to feed the homeless,” he says.
Fresh herbs are on everything you bite into here; you’ll find flecks in the flour and the buttermilk. The thighs are immersed for two days, at a minimum, then get fried in a neutral oil and topped with a spicy sauce that sparkles with heat and roasted garlic.
“There is a way to get good, healthy, quality food fast,” Heidelberg says.
4029 Crutcher St. (Old East Dallas). 214-272-7312. Dine-in, takeout, delivery.
The Nashville hot chicken sandwich with crinkle fries at Chirps Chicken Shack.
Chirps Chicken Shack
The Chrispy Chicken ($11)
There’s sympathy in the simple things at Chirps Chicken Shack’s bar. This location’s been a number of restaurants, a bar here and there, but it’s about the simple joys now: a tender, breakable fried chicken, good pickles, slaw and a creamy sauce. Three levels of heat. The fries are waffle-cut — another reason to ditch that chain that pretends to be good-natured. The salty juices, jailed behind the breading, follow you all the way home. This is good, local fast food.
3619 Greenville Ave. (Lower Greenville). 214-643-8845. Takeout, delivery.
Jonathon’s Oak Cliff
The Which Came First Sandwich ($12)
Two over-easy eggs eclipse the fried chicken breast. Tomatoes are sliced thick as a beach paperback, the lip-smacking juices find Duke’s mayonnaise, a flavor profile ripped right of the pages of summertime, and generously buttered sourdough bookends things. It’s the sandwich you’d reward yourself with — you can picture yourself making one, taking the time for each component, and planting yourself. The Erdeljacs, the husband-wife team, are in the comfort food business.
“COVID has not been easy, but we are making it,” Jonathon Erdeljac says.
1111 N. Beckley Ave. (North Oak Cliff). 214-946-2221. Dine-in only.
Crispy chicken breast over a bed of toppings at Uncle Uber’s.
Uncle Uber’s Sammich Shop
The Crispy Chicken Breast ($7.79)
It’s as easy as this: Chicken breast, marinated in plenty of spices, battered and fried. The sandwiches at Uncle Uber’s are something like nostalgia these days — a taste of the uncomplicated bar food in very complicated times. Deep Ellum is evolving rapidly, but Uber’s menu is as reliable as a fake Dallas autumn. The crispy chicken sandwich is as simple as the one you’d make at home. Still, you’ll find yourself enraptured in a short list of ingredients, executed plainly. Paired with an overflowing side of french fries, wildly salted, and a can of soda it becomes, somehow, a classic Dallas meal.
2713 Commerce St. (Deep Ellum). 214-653-8237. Dine-in, takeout, delivery.