Crack Shack in Costa Mesa serves the bird of family picnics: juicy, with a light crunch, and seasoned nicely with a modicum of heat. But Mom never made schmaltz fries and papaya slaw.
196 E 17th St, Costa Mesa, (949) 383-5040, crackshack.com
Lightly glazed, Bonchon’s spicy variety has a salty zing, delightful chew, and a slow burn. Can’t take the heat? Go for the soy garlic instead. Try the killer pot-sticker side at the Costa Mesa outpost.
1534 Adams Ave, Costa Mesa, bonchon.com
We’ll take the spicy, please, at Rooster Republic in Santa Ana. Made to order, it’s tender, juicy, and has the crunch and heat we crave. The creamy mac ‘n’ cheese cools the burn deliciously.
515 N Main St, Santa Ana, eatroosterrepublic.com
Mouthwateringly good, Furai inside Zion Market in Irvine is foodie fare. Our favorite of the many varieties is Kang Jang — succulent, with layers of umami goodness, and a glazed crunch you’ll crave for days.
Zion Market, 4800 Irvine Blvd, Irvine
At Buttermilk Fried Chicken, just opened in Orange, the chicken of Grandma’s Sunday dinners is what it’s all about. So don’t forget the green beans, mashers, and braised greens that keep it real.
238 W. Chapman Ave, Suite #100 in Old Towne Orange, buttermilkfc.com