Chicken Finger Enthusiasts Should Flock to Chicken Lady Cafe
I don’t hate chicken, but I do reserve the right to hate L.A.’s obsession with chicken. I’ve never met so many people who love chicken, or (the horror) will only eat chicken. Fat man cannot live on chicken alone (unless it’s deep fried, covered in garlic sauce, or sauteed with french fries.) Ok, so maybe hate is a strong word. I don’t hate chickenterians, some of my best friends are chickentarians. I just like to make fun of them for missing out on all the joys of beef, lamb, seafood, goat (yes goat!), and of course pork. So if the future me had told the past me that I would end up eating at a place called Chicken Lady Cafe, a catering specialist in the shadow of the Beverly Center, and love it, the old me would have proactively punched the new me in the face.
Chicken Lady Cafe? Catering? The Beverly Center? How did this happen? I’ll tell you how it happened. Chicken. Fingers.
I’m not exactly sure how I heard about the Chicken Lady Cafe (lord knows I wouldn’t have just pulled into the strip mall from the name of the place alone) but it might have been Yelp. The place gets 4 1/2 stars on Yelp, from almost 150 reviews, and their primary business is catering so the cafe is only open for lunch on the weekdays, from 11:30am to 2:30pm. A catering company whose cafe is almost an afterthought, specializing in chicken, with almost a perfect score on Yelp? Only in Los Angeles! Then I saw that their specialty is chicken fingers and mac and cheese, and I became a bit more intrigued. Who is this Chicken Lady, and is it possible that something good could finally come out of this city’s obsession with chicken? Only one way to find out. So when one of my (many) chickentarian friends who lives in Mid City wanted to meet up for lunch the other day, I had the perfect excuse.
The Chicken Lady Menu is divided into a number of different sections, and has all sorts of chicken options from salads to sandwiches to a wrap and pasta. And on Thursdays and Fridays they have specials, like chicken pot pie and roasted chicken. But, and they’ll tell you this if you clue them in that it’s your first time there, everybody is there for the chicken fingers.
For $9 you get three chicken fingers, salad, corn bread, and a side order. They have plain chicken fingers, or you can get them topped with a sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce. (There’s also a grilled option, that comes topped with a gravy like smokey lime sauce, but why would anybody ordered chicken grilled when fried is an option!) And if you don’t want to decide between the three they’ll let you combo two of the options for an extra charge. The white meat fingers are huge and fried to a crisp, but remain moist on the inside. What more could you want? I love even jarred Thai chili sauce, so I was completely down with that option. But the standard fingers come with BBQ sauce and ranch, so if you’re fine with that there’s no need to pay extra to combo them up.
Because we had never been before (they ask when you sit down) and we were bummed that they don’t let you combo all three kinds of fingers into one order, they sent out one of the mesquite lime chicken fingers for us to try. It was tasty enough, but I still stand behind my previous statement.
The fries were decent enough, but mac and cheese is probably the most popular of all the side dishes and for good reason. It was kind of awesome. If you require your m&c to be individually baked in small ramekin with a gooey, melty, cheese sauce this version might not be for you. (After all it is likely scooped from a giant catering tray.) But if the idea of giant elbow macaroni, covered in a slightly solidified sheath of orange cheese, is your idea of a good time you will love this picnic style mac and cheese.
So, against all odds I have to admit that Chicken Lady Cafe is possibly one of my new favorite lunches. And it taught me a valuable lesson: Just because a place specializes in chicken, and caters to the most food challenged segment of the L.A. eating population, doesn’t mean it can’t be completely delicious even to a fat anti-chickentarian like myself. The best part is I now have some place to eat lunch with my friends that will only eat chicken, because lord knows you’ll never catch me at a California Chicken Cafe. (Shit! I haven’t learned anything at all…)
THE + (What somebody who loves this place would say)
- Who doesn’t love chicken fingers, mac and cheese and corn bread!? So good.
- I really like that sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce, and it goes perfect over fried chicken.
- She only uses white meat and still manages to keep the fingers super moist. How does she do it!?!
- You get so much food for $10
- I love having mac and cheese after it’s been sitting in a sheet pan for an hour or two and the cheese has solidified.
- The people who run the place are soooo friendly.
- You can usually grab parking in the strip mall
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Paying extra to mix and match is a bunch of BS.
- And if there are three kinds of fingers, and you give three fingers in an order, why can’t I get one of each?!
- The place is tiny. Have you ever been in there on a busy day? It’s a madhouse.
- I like my mac and cheese to gooey, and made with fancy cheeses. This tastes like it’s from a school cafeteria.
- Why can’t this place be open at night or on the weekends?
Chicken Lady Cafe, 416 S San Vicente Blvd. 310-652-7487