March 19, 2021

20 essential Detroit-area chicken sandwiches you should have tried by now


For us carnivores, there is nothing quite like the perfect fried chicken sandwich. What does it take? Well, look no further than these 20 metro Detroit eateries serving up essential must-try fried chicken sandwiches that will have you asking "who the cluck is Popeye?"

 

 

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Ima
4870 Cass Avenue, Detroit; 313-833-9788; imanoodles.com
Though Ima specializes in Japanese rice and noodle classics, its Midtown location offers one of the crispiest and mightiest heat-infused chicken sandwiches in town. At Ima, they marinate its boneless, skinless chicken in a tamari-garlic-ginger-citrus mix for about 48 hours, dust it with two types of gluten-free starch, and deep-fry it twice to give it a thick, crispy crag. In the spicy version, they also dip the bird in a house-made chili oil made with habanero, chipotle, ghost pepper, and other chilis. The chicken arrives on a soft and slightly sweet bun with napa cabbage slaw and furikake kewpie — a Japanese mayo — and lemon and house pickles on the side. Vegetarians can substitute tofu. 
Photo via Ima Noodles/Facebook

Ima

4870 Cass Avenue, Detroit; 313-833-9788; imanoodles.com

Though Ima specializes in Japanese rice and noodle classics, its Midtown location offers one of the crispiest and mightiest heat-infused chicken sandwiches in town. At Ima, they marinate its boneless, skinless chicken in a tamari-garlic-ginger-citrus mix for about 48 hours, dust it with two types of gluten-free starch, and deep-fry it twice to give it a thick, crispy crag. In the spicy version, they also dip the bird in a house-made chili oil made with habanero, chipotle, ghost pepper, and other chilis. The chicken arrives on a soft and slightly sweet bun with napa cabbage slaw and furikake kewpie — a Japanese mayo — and lemon and house pickles on the side. Vegetarians can substitute tofu.

Photo via Ima Noodles/Facebook
Takoi
2520 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-855-2864; takoidetroit.com
Another popular Detroit Asian-influenced eatery is serving up its take on the fried chicken sandwich via, well, the fried chicken sandwich. At Takoi in Corktown, there are two options: First, the fried chicken sandwich, which features a fried chicken thigh on a brioche bun with papaya salad, coconut milk ranch, sweet chili garlic, and pickled jalapeños, and cilantro. And then, there's Takoi's nod to Nashville. The Thai Hot Chicken Sandwich kicks the heat up a notch (OK — a few notches) with a fried chicken thigh, house-made thai chili crisp with kewpie, and half sour cucumbers on a toasted brioche. 
Photo via Takoi Detroit/Facebook

Takoi

2520 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-855-2864; takoidetroit.com

Another popular Detroit Asian-influenced eatery is serving up its take on the fried chicken sandwich via, well, the fried chicken sandwich. At Takoi in Corktown, there are two options: First, the fried chicken sandwich, which features a fried chicken thigh on a brioche bun with papaya salad, coconut milk ranch, sweet chili garlic, and pickled jalapeños, and cilantro. And then, there's Takoi's nod to Nashville. The Thai Hot Chicken Sandwich kicks the heat up a notch (OK — a few notches) with a fried chicken thigh, house-made thai chili crisp with kewpie, and half sour cucumbers on a toasted brioche.

Photo via Takoi Detroit/Facebook
Ali's Pizza and Burgers 
11608 Conant Ave., Detroit; 313-826-1403; facebook.com/alispizza313
Perhaps one of the most talked-about chicken sandwiches in metro Detroit sandwich circles (trust us, they exist) comes by way of Ali's Pizza and Burgers in Hamtramck. OK — so chicken may not be in the name here, but they have some chicken tricks up their sleeve, namely the Chicken 65 burger, though technically it's a damn chicken sammie. For the uninitiated, chicken 65 is typically a deep red stir-fry of spicy chicken, onions, and a red chili-based sauce that's served over rice. To create that iteration, Ali's chef Ihtriam Ali takes a thick piece of chicken breast and marinates it overnight in a blend of chilis and spices. It's then double-coated in starch and fried, leaving it with a thick, crunchy crag. That's coated in a semi-spicy 65 sauce and is finished with a mix of sauteed tomatoes, jalapeño, and onions, and held in a soft, basic bun.
Photo by Tom Perkins

Ali's Pizza and Burgers

11608 Conant Ave., Detroit; 313-826-1403; facebook.com/alispizza313

Perhaps one of the most talked-about chicken sandwiches in metro Detroit sandwich circles (trust us, they exist) comes by way of Ali's Pizza and Burgers in Hamtramck. OK — so chicken may not be in the name here, but they have some chicken tricks up their sleeve, namely the Chicken 65 burger, though technically it's a damn chicken sammie. For the uninitiated, chicken 65 is typically a deep red stir-fry of spicy chicken, onions, and a red chili-based sauce that's served over rice. To create that iteration, Ali's chef Ihtriam Ali takes a thick piece of chicken breast and marinates it overnight in a blend of chilis and spices. It's then double-coated in starch and fried, leaving it with a thick, crunchy crag. That's coated in a semi-spicy 65 sauce and is finished with a mix of sauteed tomatoes, jalapeño, and onions, and held in a soft, basic bun.

Photo by Tom Perkins
Street Beet
4626 Third St., Detroit; 313-638-1480; streetbeetdetroit.com
OK — so technically the chicken sandwich from Detroit's cult-status vegan eatery Street Beet is not chicken, but put a blindfold on and take a bite and we bet you wouldn't know the difference. Known for its playful take on fast-food chain favorites — and for hours-long wait times at Detroit-area bars as a pop-up before landing more permanent digs within Third Street Bar — Street Beet's OG Fake Chicken Sandwich is as juicy as the real thing. For its vegan concoction, the chicken sandwich is actually a fried tofu patty encrusted with a crispy batter flavored with black pepper and sage, which comes on a brioche bun and is topped with house-made pickles and vegan spicy mayo. Want some spice? Street Beet's Hot Fake Chicken Sandwich, also a crispy tofu patty, is tossed in “spicy stuff” and topped with pickles, and vegan ranch. There are gluten-free and nut-free options, too. 
Photo via Street Beet Detroit/Facebook

Street Beet

4626 Third St., Detroit; 313-638-1480; streetbeetdetroit.com

OK — so technically the chicken sandwich from Detroit's cult-status vegan eatery Street Beet is not chicken, but put a blindfold on and take a bite and we bet you wouldn't know the difference. Known for its playful take on fast-food chain favorites — and for hours-long wait times at Detroit-area bars as a pop-up before landing more permanent digs within Third Street Bar — Street Beet's OG Fake Chicken Sandwich is as juicy as the real thing. For its vegan concoction, the chicken sandwich is actually a fried tofu patty encrusted with a crispy batter flavored with black pepper and sage, which comes on a brioche bun and is topped with house-made pickles and vegan spicy mayo. Want some spice? Street Beet's Hot Fake Chicken Sandwich, also a crispy tofu patty, is tossed in “spicy stuff” and topped with pickles, and vegan ranch. There are gluten-free and nut-free options, too.

Photo via Street Beet Detroit/Facebook
Eureka Eatery
3080 N. Monroe St., Monroe; 734-457-4571; eurekaeatery.com
Don't scoff at a nondescript independent fast food restaurant situated in a gas station in Monroe, because this chicken sandwich might just put all chicken sandwiches to shame — and we're not cluckin' around. Recently, they pivoted from shawarma, gyros, and falafel to fried chicken à la grandma's recipe. Known for handmade chicken and beef products that are antibiotic-free and Halal, Eureka is hailed as the best Nashville Hot Chicken in Michigan by, according to their website, and basically everyone that likes food. Their Cluckin' Chicken Sandwich comes with just pickles, but can be topped with all the fixings. Where shit gets whild is the Cluckin' Hot Sammie topped with slaw and pickles, and can be ordered to fit your heat preference, of which there are a whopping seven heat levels to choose from. (It starts with Country, which has no heat and can get as hot as the Inferno option, to which Eureka wishes those daring souls "good luck.") And, you know what? We're not going to even talk about their bubble waffle cones, which are stuffed with fried chicken, gravy, and mashed potato nuggets, because we can't cluckin' even.Photo via Eureka Eatery/Facebook

Eureka Eatery

3080 N. Monroe St., Monroe; 734-457-4571; eurekaeatery.com

Don't scoff at a nondescript independent fast food restaurant situated in a gas station in Monroe, because this chicken sandwich might just put all chicken sandwiches to shame — and we're not cluckin' around. Recently, they pivoted from shawarma, gyros, and falafel to fried chicken à la grandma's recipe. Known for handmade chicken and beef products that are antibiotic-free and Halal, Eureka is hailed as the best Nashville Hot Chicken in Michigan by, according to their website, and basically everyone that likes food. Their Cluckin' Chicken Sandwich comes with just pickles, but can be topped with all the fixings. Where shit gets whild is the Cluckin' Hot Sammie topped with slaw and pickles, and can be ordered to fit your heat preference, of which there are a whopping seven heat levels to choose from. (It starts with Country, which has no heat and can get as hot as the Inferno option, to which Eureka wishes those daring souls "good luck.") And, you know what? We're not going to even talk about their bubble waffle cones, which are stuffed with fried chicken, gravy, and mashed potato nuggets, because we can't cluckin' even.

Photo via Eureka Eatery/Facebook
Yellow Light Coffee and Donuts
14447 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit; 313-469-7780; yellowlightdetroit.com
From the folks that brought Detroit slider staple Green Dot Stables and ramen hotspot Johnny Noodle King comes a coffee and doughnut cafe that has unassuming chicken sammies worth squawking about. Yellow Light Coffee and Donuts in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood opened drive-thru service during the pandemic offering, well, mostly doughnuts and house-roasted coffee. But they also do chicken. There's the classic fried chicken which comes on a biscuit and is topped with a maple glaze. Then, for those who want some spice in their life, the hot chicken sandwich, also served on a biscuit, comes with hot sauce and pickles. Wanna get weird? Top the sammies with an egg and grab a bag 'o' beans to brew at home. 
Photo via Yellow Light Coffee and Donuts/Facebook

Yellow Light Coffee and Donuts

14447 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit; 313-469-7780; yellowlightdetroit.com

From the folks that brought Detroit slider staple Green Dot Stables and ramen hotspot Johnny Noodle King comes a coffee and doughnut cafe that has unassuming chicken sammies worth squawking about. Yellow Light Coffee and Donuts in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood opened drive-thru service during the pandemic offering, well, mostly doughnuts and house-roasted coffee. But they also do chicken. There's the classic fried chicken which comes on a biscuit and is topped with a maple glaze. Then, for those who want some spice in their life, the hot chicken sandwich, also served on a biscuit, comes with hot sauce and pickles. Wanna get weird? Top the sammies with an egg and grab a bag 'o' beans to brew at home.

Photo via Yellow Light Coffee and Donuts/Facebook
Ale Mary’s Beer Hall 
316 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-268-1939; alemarysbeer.com
Great things can come in small packages which is the case when it comes to Ale Mary’s fried chicken offering. The Royal Oak beer hall has fried chicken sliders made with beer-battered chicken, beer pickled peaches and jalapeños, and beer-battered fries. The only thing missing is a cold beer, which they also have.
Photo via Ale Mary's Beer Bar/Facebook

Ale Mary’s Beer Hall

316 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-268-1939; alemarysbeer.com

Great things can come in small packages which is the case when it comes to Ale Mary’s fried chicken offering. The Royal Oak beer hall has fried chicken sliders made with beer-battered chicken, beer pickled peaches and jalapeños, and beer-battered fries. The only thing missing is a cold beer, which they also have.

Photo via Ale Mary's Beer Bar/Facebook
Fat Daddy's Hot Chicken and Waffles
18283 Fort St., Riverview; 734-288-3051; fatdaddys-chicken.com
Take a trip Downriver and you'll find a fried chicken sandwich being slung out of a chicken-focused carry-out shop that brings the heat and the crunch. Fat Daddy's Hot Chicken and Waffles has several sandwiches to choose from, but you can't go wrong with the original. The Fat Daddy is made with jumbo boneless chicken, comeback sauce, pickles or peppers, and served on a brioche bun and can be made in a variety of heat/spice levels. They also have the Mac Daddy, which is a chicken sandwich topped with a five-cheese mac and cheese, because why the hell not? While we're throwing inhibitions to the wind, try the Suga Mama, which is a spicy, honey-drenched chicken sandwich with donuts for buns. We have three words: bring it on. 
Photo via Fat Daddy's Hot Chicken and Waffls/Facebook

Fat Daddy's Hot Chicken and Waffles

18283 Fort St., Riverview; 734-288-3051; fatdaddys-chicken.com

Take a trip Downriver and you'll find a fried chicken sandwich being slung out of a chicken-focused carry-out shop that brings the heat and the crunch. Fat Daddy's Hot Chicken and Waffles has several sandwiches to choose from, but you can't go wrong with the original. The Fat Daddy is made with jumbo boneless chicken, comeback sauce, pickles or peppers, and served on a brioche bun and can be made in a variety of heat/spice levels. They also have the Mac Daddy, which is a chicken sandwich topped with a five-cheese mac and cheese, because why the hell not? While we're throwing inhibitions to the wind, try the Suga Mama, which is a spicy, honey-drenched chicken sandwich with donuts for buns. We have three words: bring it on.

Photo via Fat Daddy's Hot Chicken and Waffls/Facebook
Penny Red's
1445 Farmer St., Detroit; pennyreds.com
Move over Popeye. Meet Penny Red's, the place where fried chicken reigns supreme. Nestled in Downtown Detroit within Parker's Alley behind the Shinola hotel is Penny Red's, where they serve “damn fine chicken” via either buckets of chicken or a selection of finely crafted and super crispy sandwiches. There's The Classic, which comes with city ranch, sweet pickle, and hot honey. Then there's The K-Town Cutlet which comes topped with toasted peanut, scallion, and kimchi BBQ. But don't sleep on The Dirty Coop, which comes with red slaw, crispy shallot, and baconbombs.com, whatever that is. (We want it.) 
Photo via Eat Penny Reds/Facebook

Penny Red's

1445 Farmer St., Detroit; pennyreds.com

Move over Popeye. Meet Penny Red's, the place where fried chicken reigns supreme. Nestled in Downtown Detroit within Parker's Alley behind the Shinola hotel is Penny Red's, where they serve “damn fine chicken” via either buckets of chicken or a selection of finely crafted and super crispy sandwiches. There's The Classic, which comes with city ranch, sweet pickle, and hot honey. Then there's The K-Town Cutlet which comes topped with toasted peanut, scallion, and kimchi BBQ. But don't sleep on The Dirty Coop, which comes with red slaw, crispy shallot, and baconbombs.com, whatever that is. (We want it.)

Photo via Eat Penny Reds/Facebook
The Gripper Food Truck by Durden's Catering
20504 Livernois Ave., Detroit; 313-209-3350; durdenscatering.com
Durden's Catering in Detroit stumbled on greatness when they started making some crispy, spicy, next-level chicken sandwiches, which has led to the creation of The Gripper food truck parked next door to Baker's Keyboard Lounge. Its namesake sandwich, the Famous Spicy Yung Gripper, features spicy and extra crispy fried chicken topped with pickle chips, slaw, pepper jack, and bang sauce which is, well, bangin'. 
Photo via DurdensCatering/Facebook

The Gripper Food Truck by Durden's Catering

20504 Livernois Ave., Detroit; 313-209-3350; durdenscatering.com

Durden's Catering in Detroit stumbled on greatness when they started making some crispy, spicy, next-level chicken sandwiches, which has led to the creation of The Gripper food truck parked next door to Baker's Keyboard Lounge. Its namesake sandwich, the Famous Spicy Yung Gripper, features spicy and extra crispy fried chicken topped with pickle chips, slaw, pepper jack, and bang sauce which is, well, bangin'.

Photo via DurdensCatering/Facebook