10 San Diego Fried Chicken Sandwiches That Are Better Than Popeyes

September 17, 2019

Skip the viral Popeyes craze and get your fried chicken sandwich fix at one of these 10 San Diego eateries. From Nashville hot style to pure California comfort, here are our favorites from all around America's Finest City.

Released in late August 2019, Popeyes Louisiana fried chicken sandwich has quickly become a viral sensation, even resulting in a national shortage of the popular menu item only two weeks from its incarnation. Although there are nearly a dozen Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen locations in San Diego, we urge locals to skip the national chain and support local at one of these 10 spots who know how to make an amazing fried chicken sandwich.

Cross Street's Wednesday special Nashville Chicken Sandwich
Cross Street Chicken and Beer - Convoy, Windmill Food Hall - This 2-year-old Korean fried chicken concept has already expanded to the newly opened Windmill Food Hall in Carlsbad. Husband-and-wife partners Tommy Nguyen & Grace Chi have made a name for themselves with their delicious bone-in fried chicken options, but their Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich (only available on Wednesdays) has hungry diners flocking. Get in early as this sandwich frequently sells out.

Raglan Public House - Ocean Beach - San Diego's New Zealand Eats restaurant group (Raglan, Bare Back Grill, Queenstown Public House, Dunedin) are known for their organic grass-fed burgers, but they also know how to make a mean fried chicken sandwich. The Cluck & Squeal sandwich has fried chicken, bacon and avocado, or grab the Chicka Bunga with fried chicken, sliced cucumbers, jalapeno coconut raita, mango chutney and garlic aioli. Being from NJ, I always go with the Dirty Jerz with fried chicken, bacon, Swiss cheese, sweet and hot sauce, aioli, lettuce and tomato.

Common Stock's Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Common Stock - Hillcrest - From alums of the successful Hillstone Restaurant Group, Common Stock has been melding fine dining and fast-casual since opening last September. Although the restaurant offers a concise menu, the owners are seemingly most passionate about their Crispy Chicken Sandwich, which ownership has boasted on social media is the best in town. The sandwich features crispy fried chicken, Muenster cheese, herbed buttermilk slaw and bacon. Another location of Common Stock is also in preliminary stages to install in San Diego's East Village.

The Crack Shack - Little Italy, Encinitas - Celebrity Chef Richard Blais' hit fried chicken concept, The Crack Shack, which first opening in San Diego's Little Italy in Fall 2015, is an expanding destination for all things fried chicken. While you can't go wrong with any of the sandwiches, our favorites are the spicy Firebird and the jam-packed Señor Croque, which includes crispy chicken, bacon, fried egg, cheddar, and miso-maple butter all on a brioche bun.

Liberty Chik chicken sandwich
Liberty Chik - Liberty Public Market - Unveiling only recently within Liberty Public Market in Point Loma, Liberty Chik is the product of Alfredo DiNunzio Jr., who also operated Roma Express and the market’s Liberty Meat Shop, which are now both united in the former meat shop space and named Roma Express Italian Deli. The eatery offers a concise menu centered around boneless Nashville fried hot chicken at various spice levels, served by the piece, in combos and in sandwich form. Get the chicken sandwich and be careful of how spicy you choose!

Rhythm Chicken & Waffles - Pacific Beach - Opened in May of this year within a quaint storefront in the heart of San Diego's Pacific Beach neighborhood, Rhythm's Chicken & Waffles has become an online sensation with its menu centered around fried chicken and house made waffles. The music-themed comfort food eatery's top selling item is its chicken and waffles sandwich, which includes tender chicken breast in between a Belgian waffle topped with cheese, bacon, and the option of a fried egg.

Mendocino Farms Not So Fried Chicken Sandwich
Mendocino Farms - La Jolla, Del Mar, Carlsbad - Los Angeles-based Mendocino Farms is expanding its San Diego footprint over the next year, with the company's fourth area restaurant currently in the process of installing in downtown San Diego. The casual eatery has nearly 20 locations spread throughout Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, offering a menu of delicious sandwiches and gigantic salads. The restaurant's most popular item may be the Mary's "Not so Fried Chicken" sandwich, featuring shaved roasted chicken breast topped with crispy breadcrumb pieces, herb aioli, mustard pickle slaw, tomatoes, pickled red onions on toasted ciabatta bun.

Dirty Birds - Pacific Beach, Liberty Station, SDSU College Area - San Diego's king of chicken wings is known for their nearly 40 different wing flavors, but they also have an eclectic menu of burgers, sides, and sandwiches. Their General Tso-styel Fried General Chicken is a go-to, but they also make a Fried Chicken Your Way that can be customized to any preference. Stop in one of their three area locations, and stay tuned for the newest branch to unveil in Ocean Beach later this fall.

Hot CBGB from StreetCar Merchants of Fried Chicken
StreetCar Merchants of Fried Chicken - North Park - Founded in 2014 by Ron Suel and RaVae Smith, Streetcar offers a Southern-inspired menu centered around fried chicken. The duo also operates Suckerfree in the Gaslamp Quarter and is in the process of opening a new restaurant in San Diego's Chollas Creek Villas area. Our favorite sandwich from StreetCar is the Hot CBGB with Nashvilled fried hot chicken, bacon and gravy on a fresh made biscuit.

Chicken Charlie's FryBQ - Clairemont Mesa, Rancho Bernardo - From founder Charlie Boghosian, Chicken Charlie's built a cult following over the course of its nearly three decades as an area fair vendor before opening its first brick-and-mortar eatery in 2014 in San Diego's Clairemont neighborhood. While the concept is known for gluttonous fair-fueled concoctions, the restaurants also offer a multitude of healthier options. Their four fried chicken sandwiches may not be for those on a diet (although they can be modified with grilled chicken), but they are delicious nonetheless. We love the Fiesta Chicken Sandwich with crispy fried chicken, Ortega chile, lettuce, tomato, pepper jack and Sante Fe Mayo, which is also Chicken Charlie's favorite!

Did we miss out on your favorite San Diego fried chicken sandwich? If so, let us know by emailing [email protected].