By Daniel Paris

Chicken sandwiches have come a long way since my first, served on a pastel green plastic lunch tray in my high school cafeteria.

We are being bombarded by TV networks and social media influencers with ads promising a life changing experience by offering the best hot chicken sandwich ever.

This barrage is based on several previous rollouts of influencer “discoveries.” One that comes to mind is Krispy Kreme. Our society has a bad case of FOMO. I say have fun with it!

I usually review restaurants with strong family roots run by owners interested in showcasing their unique recipes created over generations. But now, I decided to chase a trend along with everyone else and sample the hype.

Advertisement

I chose three franchise restaurants, one a newcomer to the Coachella Valley, to sample their spicy chicken sandwiches.

Popeye’s really got things going with the rollout of their spicy chicken sandwich served on a brioche bun with spicy mayo and pickles. A breast filet is marinated in buttermilk brine with pepper sauce and the added “umami” flavor of MSG. It is breaded with a batter of flour, baking powder, garlic, and onion powder, white pepper, eggs, and more Louisiana hot sauce. This sandwich was really good for the price of $3.99 and is my top pick of the three.

KFC, the Colonel’s secret spice combo dominated the flavor of their spicy chicken sandwich. So it’s kind of a letdown if you are looking for a new interpretation of their “broasted” chicken breast which is watery rather than moist. No brining here. The breading was a little gummy under the outer crispy layer. It is served on a brioche bun with pickles and mayonnaise. The hot spice in the breading is overwhelmed by the KFC flavoring. At $3.99, this was my least favorite sandwich.

Dave’s Hot Chicken, the newest must-try hot chicken experience, has just opened in Indio north of the I-10. Started as a food stand in L.A., Dave’s exploded on social media and has blossomed into an international franchise. Their chef worked for Thomas Keller in the French Laundry and the cayenne forward flavor of the breading and brine make this check sandwich the most complex and interesting of the three. You can choose your spice level when ordering. Unfortunately, you cannot order a chicken slider a la carte. It has to be part of a meal with fries and a chicken tender and will set you back $12.00 – $15.00.

Many restaurants in the Coachella Valley have a signature hot chicken sandwich on their menu as they quietly go about their valued business of feeding us all.