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Side Chick’s not-Nashville hot chicken sandwich

Fried bird counter shows up with a supermarket attached

The "Cali Chick", a fried chicken sandwich that owes its heat to chipotle sauce and pickled jalapeños.
The "Cali Chick", a fried chicken sandwich that owes its heat to chipotle sauce and pickled jalapeños.

It probably says something about which stage of the fried chicken craze we’ve entered that I can squeeze in a couple of minutes of grocery shopping while waiting for my hot chicken sandwich to be made.

Place

Side Chick

5075 Federal Blvd, San Diego

What’s brought me here to Webster (the neighborhood in the northeast quadrant where the 94 meets the 805) is a fried chicken counter called Side Chick. But, we’re low on milk at home, and it turns out Side Chick is affixed to a new supermarket.

Side Chick operates on the side of the grocery store, Manolo's Farmers Market.

The new chicken outfit occupies a small corner of Manolo’s Farmers Market, a local, family-owned grocery brand that offers a mix of traditional Hispanic and Filipino fare, in addition to the ubiquitous American brands (like, I found our usual, lactose-free milk). Manolo’s probably isn’t all too different from the Foodland it replaces at this site, but it offers an agua fresca counter, Dietz & Watson deli counter, and a unique diversity of baked goods. I was told Side Chick is separate from Manolo’s, a tenant I suppose, though a low set of cooler shelves in front of the counter are stocked with Manolo’s-made cakes and beverages.

The Side Chick counter offers baked goods and beverages made inside the grocery next door.

We can pause here a moment to appreciate the sense of humor behind the name Side Chick, given its literal attachment the side of the market. However, they might’ve taken the joke too far with its logo and menu choices. Just about every hot chicken place that’s opened the past few years has adopted a goofy, cartoon chicken logo. This one just happens to be female and posed like a pin-up girl in a booty-hugging black cocktail dress. Let’s just agree that any sexy chicken concept is off-putting at best, even before the shop’s “Quickie Menu” shows me which “Buns” I can get for five bucks: the Side Chick, or the Hot Chick. Truly, Side Chick, as long as your fried poultry is crispy, and occasionally spicy, I can do without the curves.

A sandwich board menu features the Side Chick logo.

And yes, it turns out Side Chick’s chicken is crispy, with a thick seasoned batter coating white meat. There’s almost no grease to speak on my $3 chicken tender, and though it errs a bit on the salty side, that may be by design, as it balances against the sweet and/or spicy flavors of various side chick sauces, in particular its “Bad B” honey mustard.

Next is the Nashville style hot chicken, which doesn’t deliver extreme heat, but it does have some burn, and it does a fine job of coating every surface of my mouth.

A cross section of the Cali Chick,the rare fried chicken sandwich that is topped with avocado

What really pulled me in though, and made me willing to write yet another fried chicken story, is a third sandwich: the Cali Chick. Like the others, it starts with fried chicken breast on a soft, brioche bun. It also comes with lettuce, tomato, onion, and avocado, a rarity on hot chicken sandwiches, which usually feature pickles. At least in Nashville.

But the heat on this sandwich represents a different approach, which indeed feel closer to home. Rather than cayenne (or, say, ghost pepper), the spice on this sandwich can be credited to chipotle sauce and pickled jalapeños. I’d wash it down with an agua fresca.

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The "Cali Chick", a fried chicken sandwich that owes its heat to chipotle sauce and pickled jalapeños.
The "Cali Chick", a fried chicken sandwich that owes its heat to chipotle sauce and pickled jalapeños.

It probably says something about which stage of the fried chicken craze we’ve entered that I can squeeze in a couple of minutes of grocery shopping while waiting for my hot chicken sandwich to be made.

Place

Side Chick

5075 Federal Blvd, San Diego

What’s brought me here to Webster (the neighborhood in the northeast quadrant where the 94 meets the 805) is a fried chicken counter called Side Chick. But, we’re low on milk at home, and it turns out Side Chick is affixed to a new supermarket.

Side Chick operates on the side of the grocery store, Manolo's Farmers Market.

The new chicken outfit occupies a small corner of Manolo’s Farmers Market, a local, family-owned grocery brand that offers a mix of traditional Hispanic and Filipino fare, in addition to the ubiquitous American brands (like, I found our usual, lactose-free milk). Manolo’s probably isn’t all too different from the Foodland it replaces at this site, but it offers an agua fresca counter, Dietz & Watson deli counter, and a unique diversity of baked goods. I was told Side Chick is separate from Manolo’s, a tenant I suppose, though a low set of cooler shelves in front of the counter are stocked with Manolo’s-made cakes and beverages.

The Side Chick counter offers baked goods and beverages made inside the grocery next door.

We can pause here a moment to appreciate the sense of humor behind the name Side Chick, given its literal attachment the side of the market. However, they might’ve taken the joke too far with its logo and menu choices. Just about every hot chicken place that’s opened the past few years has adopted a goofy, cartoon chicken logo. This one just happens to be female and posed like a pin-up girl in a booty-hugging black cocktail dress. Let’s just agree that any sexy chicken concept is off-putting at best, even before the shop’s “Quickie Menu” shows me which “Buns” I can get for five bucks: the Side Chick, or the Hot Chick. Truly, Side Chick, as long as your fried poultry is crispy, and occasionally spicy, I can do without the curves.

A sandwich board menu features the Side Chick logo.

And yes, it turns out Side Chick’s chicken is crispy, with a thick seasoned batter coating white meat. There’s almost no grease to speak on my $3 chicken tender, and though it errs a bit on the salty side, that may be by design, as it balances against the sweet and/or spicy flavors of various side chick sauces, in particular its “Bad B” honey mustard.

Next is the Nashville style hot chicken, which doesn’t deliver extreme heat, but it does have some burn, and it does a fine job of coating every surface of my mouth.

A cross section of the Cali Chick,the rare fried chicken sandwich that is topped with avocado

What really pulled me in though, and made me willing to write yet another fried chicken story, is a third sandwich: the Cali Chick. Like the others, it starts with fried chicken breast on a soft, brioche bun. It also comes with lettuce, tomato, onion, and avocado, a rarity on hot chicken sandwiches, which usually feature pickles. At least in Nashville.

But the heat on this sandwich represents a different approach, which indeed feel closer to home. Rather than cayenne (or, say, ghost pepper), the spice on this sandwich can be credited to chipotle sauce and pickled jalapeños. I’d wash it down with an agua fresca.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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