The best fried chicken sandwiches in SF right now

By Virginia Miller

Fried chicken may just be the ultimate in comfort food. In the South, it’s a regional staple fiercely loved in all its versions, from buttermilk fried to Nashville hot chicken. And in the Bay Area, there is no end to its varying iterations, some of them stellar, even if maybe missing the soulful context of the South. You can find Indian or Filipino versions in addition to a range of styles from the American South, but regardless, nowhere is juicy fried chicken more gratifying than when stuffed into a sandwich. Here are six of our favorite places in San Francisco and Oakland—those that set the standard for fried chicken sandwiches.

Bakesale Betty’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Coleslaw Sandwich
Oakland’s Bakesale Betty just may be the gold standard—not just in the Bay Area but one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the country since 2005. Often drawing lines down the block, the bakery side—from its scones to pies—is fantastic. But for over 10 years, it's their buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, pictured above right, that has drawn national raves. Served on a soft roll, and laden with jalapeño slaw (seeds removed so just the fresh jalapeño skin flavor rather than heat), it just hasn’t grown old, and may best epitomize fried chicken sandwiches, the Bay Area way.
Price: $9.12
Neighborhood: Oakland

Brenda’s Meat & Three’s Big Mama’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich
From each of her locations, Brenda Buenviajé and crew continue to draw crowds for soulful Southern and Cajun/Creole cooking. At Brenda’s Meat & Three on Divis, her house-made fried bologna sandwich, slathered in pimento cheese—and only available at lunch—is reason enough to visit. But a sleeper hit is her Big Mama’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, pictured above left, on both the lunch and dinner menus. The fried chicken platter has long been a house favorite, but Brenda’s spicy fried chicken comforts equally well on a toasted bun stacked with dill pickles, mayo, lettuce, and tomato.
Price: $13.75
Neighborhood: Nopa/Western Addition

Soul Groove’s Chicken & Waffle Sandwich
From pop-up to brick-and-mortar, since 2011 Soul Groove has been keeping the groove alive with their chicken and waffle sandwich, served in a cheerful, blue-walled space marked by red-and-white checkered tablecloths. They offer plenty for vegetarians and vegans, too in their Southern food line-up, but regulars go for the sandwich that started it all: bacon-wrapped and buttermilk-battered chicken breast, fried and sandwiched between maple waffles, packed with jalapeño coleslaw and spicy maple barbecue sauce. Just try to resist.
Price: $9
Neighborhood: Civic Center

Rusty’s Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich
At Rusty’s Southern, Rusty Olson and crew bring a friendly slice of modern Southern comfort to the Tenderloin. Their sweet tea–brined, buttermilk fried chicken with braised collard greens and Carolina Gold Hoppin' John, is rightly a house favorite. But at brunch, that sweet tea–brined boneless thigh comes in fried chicken sandwich form, graced with a creamy slaw and herb mayo on a benne seed brioche bun. To sweeten the deal, it comes with a pickle and your choice of hush puppies, fries, or —if you must counteract the fried—spring greens. Southern hospitality, indeed.
Price: $14
Neighborhood: Tenderloin

Rove Kitchen’s Fried Chicken Sandwich
In the heart of Lower Nob Hill, Rove Kitchen is a draw for its Wednesday through Sunday service, modern-casual-chic vibe, and short but quality menu of sandwiches, pastas, and salad. But fried chicken lovers know it is fried chicken heaven. The lightly buttermilk fried chicken on a house-made sea salt bun flies under the radar, and the neighborhood likes it that way. Loaded with cabbage slaw, it could draw comparisons to Oakland’s great Bakesale Betty, but Rove’s purple cabbage slaw is totally different. Laced with bread-and-butter pickles and lemon anchovy aïoli, it’s very much its own draw.
Price: $14
Neighborhood: Lower Nob Hill/Tendernob

Wes Burger’s Nashville Hot Chicken
Of course everyone flocks to Wes Burger for the irresistible burgers (that Okie burger!), the grilled cauliflower steak, and killer queso tater tots. But Wes and crew know how to turn out a mean fried chicken, too. Their Southern-style fried chicken is buttermilk battered and accompanied by a miso aïoli and pickle slaw. But in our favorite, the Nashville hot chicken (pictured below), the batter is perked up with a fiery house-made Nashville spice mix. Fried up and served with garlic mayo, lettuce and pickles, it’s one spicy-fine sandwich. And if you’re there Thursday through Sunday nights, you can grab a drink next door at Wes Burger’s charming, closet-sized bar, The Den.
Price: $10
Neighborhood: Mission

Email   Print   Tweet