One of the questions that dominated social media for a month or so in 2020 – unbelievably – was which fast-food chain that uses factory-farm-raised chickens, flavorless buns and questionable condiments had the “best” chicken sandwich. In a year dominated by COVID, it made a perverse sort of sense. With hope for a better 2021, we think the more apposite question is: Which local joint that uses responsibly raised chickens, fresh ingredients and buns that taste like, well, actual bread, has the best chicken sandwich?
Perhaps, too, we can stop talking about which thing is the “best” and just find a bunch of things that are all delicious in their own ways. In that spirit, we built a list of chicken sandwiches to get you started on your quest.
Ponyboy has rolled out their new menu created by Chef Landon Hawpe. The options successfully straddle the line between bar food and American bistro. Hawpe opted for a katsu chicken sandwich, as well, and the use of thigh meat creates a juicy, flavorful bite made spicy with his housemade sauce.
Palo Santo (1203 SW 2; see page xx) uses panko for the breading, too, on its katsu chicken sandwich. It’s a simple, delicious approach with a brined breast, house pickles and Kewpie mayo mixed with sriracha.
In the category of “over-the-top,” the Nashvillain at Marc Dunham’s Nashbird (locations in downtown OKC, Edmond and Norman) is hot chicken on a bun with mac ‘n’ cheese, bacon, onion rings and ranch dressing. You can choose the heat level, or opt for southern fried or buttermilk ranch style. The brioche bun holds up nicely, and it’s enough food for two once you add the side.
As for split-able sandwiches, the monster at Burger Punk (3012 N Walker) is definitely a meal for two … but maybe get the loaded fries just to be sure. Chef Chris McCabe dreamed this up in some shiny, sunny corner of his brain, so it features a pterodactyl-sized breast, house-made pickles, lettuce and punk sauce. It’s a beautiful, delicious mess.
Back to the chicken thigh variation for a moment. Thighs really do have more flavor than breasts; it’s not even controversial. R&J Lounge and Supper Club at 320 NW 10, in an homage to Bobo’s Chicken on the northeast side, uses Eastside chicken to make its sandwich. The thighs are smoked, deboned and fried, so they’re very flavorful. There’s some heat from the sriracha aioli, but it’s a pleasant, warming heat, not biting.
Finally, Jimmy B’s opened at 1225 N Broadway on Automobile Alley in 2020, and was one of the best things to happen last year. Its chicken sandwich features a brined breast with buttermilk wash, a touch of arbol chili, a hint of cayenne and seasoned flour. With fresh tomatoes and cole slaw that should win awards, it’s a traditional chicken sandwich that has just enough flavor tweaks to make it deliciously distinctive.