Get Fired Up for L.A.'s Best Hot Chicken

From Southern style to Thai, hot chicken is having a moment

Howlin' Ray's Nashville Hot Chicken | Photo: Howlin' Ray's

Howlin' Ray's Nashville Hot Chicken | Photo: Howlin' Ray's

It’s steamy, it’s crispy, it’s juicy and most of all, it’s spicy. We’re talking about Nashville Hot Chicken - the fried bird phenomenon that started with the vengeful girlfriend of a man named Thornton Prince in Nashville, Tennessee. Trying to serve justice for being spited backfired however, and the cayenne-laced recipe has since become a favorite across the South.

Los Angeles pays homage to the heat with the tradition that has now thankfully made it cross-country. We are so lucky that bona fide renditions of that hot chicken can be found all over L.A. these days. We’ve supplemented our Nashville Hot Chicken list with other deliciously spicy chicken dishes, so you can try more of our favorites that glean influences from elsewhere.

Spiceland Bao at Baohaus in Chinatown | Photo: @dead_peach, Instagram

Spiceland Bao at Baohaus in Chinatown | Photo: @dead_peach, Instagram

Baohaus Far East Plaza

The Spiceland Bao at Baohaus in Chinatown's Far East Plaza is so good, you may require two. The steamed white bun is a soft overture to a crunchy, fried breading before giving way to a hot, juicy center. A mixture of spices make the batter extra tasty - 8-ingredient Szechuan chili oil, pickled cabbage, crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar, and cilantro on top of it all are the perfect finishing touches. You can finish one in three to four bites, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich | Photo courtesy of Boneyard Bistro, Facebook

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich | Photo courtesy of Boneyard Bistro, Facebook

Boneyard Bistro

Boneyard Bistro offers the best hot chicken the Valley can ask for. You’ll have to go on a Monday night for their hot chicken sandwich, but it’s always worth the wait. Their crisp breading glistens with great flavor, perfect for dripping onto two slices of white bread. Pick from either a white or dark portion as well as two sides, including mac ‘n cheese bites, beans and coleslaw. Your platter is available as either Nashville Hot Chicken or regular fried chicken, but the latter would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it?

Photo: Crawfords

Photo: Crawfords


The only food on the menu at this great dive bar with red pleather booths in Westlake is fried chicken (Nashville Hot or regular) with sides - a pretty accurate indication that their version can hold its own. Located in Westlake, Crawford’s only offers beer and a few wines, but few can argue there’s a more appropriate beverage to wash down an order of spicy fried white and dark meat than a cold one. The selection of sides also hold their weight, with achoice of beans, coleslaw, potato salad, mac’n cheese. If you’re into pool or Pac Man, they’ve got that, too.

Dave’s Hot Chicken | Instagram by @daveshotchicken

Dave’s Hot Chicken | Instagram by @daveshotchicken

Dave’s Hot Chicken

This East Hollywood pop-up is so popular that Dave's Hot Chicken is currently slated to move into its own brick and mortar spot in Hollywood. So until then, head to this Hollywood Boulevard parking lot for mild or hot chicken tenders on white bread and a side of fries. If you prefer sliders, they’ve got that too, as well as crinkle-cut fries and - what’s this? - "kaleslaw" (i.e. coleslaw made with kale). The “hot” level isn’t as hot as others, but it does the job. As they use primarily breast meat in their offerings, dark meat lovers need not apply. Open Monday-Saturday, 7 p.m. until they run out. Cash only.

The Stinger at Fritzi Coop in The Original Farmers Market | Photo: @japanfoodieguy, Instagram

The Stinger at Fritzi Coop in The Original Farmers Market | Photo: @japanfoodieguy, Instagram

Fritzi Coop - The Original Farmers Market

If you’re looking for a different kind of hot chicken sandwich - perhaps one that tastes as if it were from upstate New York - look no further than The Stinger at Neal Fraser's Fritzi Coop located in The Original Farmers Market. The chicken patty is evocative of your favorite Buffalo wings - the kind of spicy-sweet, vinegar-based flavor that is perfectly paired with blue cheese-dressed greens. It’s everything you need in a sandwich.

Howlin’ Ray’s

L.A. native Johnny Ray Zone and his team have effectively spread the gospel of Nashville Hot Chicken throughout our city. Johnny worked for a time in Nashville, bringing back with him a perfected version that is as authentic as it gets. Howlin' Rays offers unrivaled camaraderie amongst the staff and a wide range of heat levels (the “Howlin’” level comes with its own latex gloves!). The chicken’s crispy shell, juicy consistency and rich flavor throughout - whether a quarter or half-chicken, wings, sandwich or with waffles (on the weekends) - really clinch the deal. Be forewarned: this is currently one of the most notorious restaurant lines in all of Los Angeles, with peak wait times upwards of 2 hours. Many agree that it’s well worth it.

Hot 'n' Smoky Chicken Sandwich at Electric Owl | Photo: @nosh_la, Instagram

Hot 'n' Smoky Chicken Sandwich at Electric Owl | Photo: @nosh_la, Instagram

Electric Owl

Ernesto Uchimura's McFly's All-Natural pop-up items have been folded into the regular lunch menu at his charming Electric Owl indoor-outdoor restaurant on Sunset Boulevard. Available at lunch and dinner, the signature Hot 'n' Smoky Chicken Sandwich is served with ranch aioli and green bean pickles - the choice of heat level is yours: regular, spicy, hot or fire.

Fried chicken sandwich at Night + Market Song | Instagram by @theskinnydonut_


Fried chicken sandwich at Night + Market Song | Instagram by @theskinnydonut_

Night + Market & Night + Market Song

Fans of both hot fried chicken sandwiches and dark meat will rejoice at this uniquely Thai rendition by Kris Yenbamroong at Night + Market in WeHo and its Silver Lake sequel, Night + Market Song. Crispy thighs are fried and accompanied by a refreshing-yet-spicy papaya slaw, tomato slices, cilantro, yet more jalapeños and a cooling ranch dressing. Get it at lunch (Silver Lake only) or order it off-menu during dinner at either location.

Hot Chick'n at Shake Shack - Westfield Century City | Instagram by @victors_belly

Hot Chick'n at Shake Shack - Westfield Century City | Instagram by @victors_belly

Shake Shack

A favorite of burger fans in New York and beyond, Shake Shack launched their version of Nashville Hot Chicken in the summer of 2016. Available at Westfield Century City and other L.A. locations, the Hot Chick’n sandwich doesn’t pack nearly the amount of heat required of the real thing, it’s still a tasty, crispy alternative to the classic cheeseburger. The Hot Chick’n is basted in a guajillo and cayenne pepper blend and topped with slaw and pickles. Shake Shack's classic soft bun is the perfect frame to the compact sandwich, awakening your taste buds - just a little bit - bite for bite.

Nashville Hot Chicken at Sweet Chick Los Angeles | Instagram by @laeater

Nashville Hot Chicken at Sweet Chick Los Angeles | Instagram by @laeater

Sweet Chick

Fairfax can’t be mad about this Nas-owned, New York City import. Sweet Chick evokes a neon-lit, neighborly vibe with a Southern menu that's further enhanced by its great craft cocktail program. The generous portion of Nashville Hot Chicken is priced accordingly and served with a milk jam waffle, which itself comes with its own house butters and jams. Available at dinner only, the chicken packs quite the punch, a bit more silent and sneaky than the other hot chicken on this list. And that’s a good thing.