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SF's Best Fried Chicken Sandwiches, Ranked

Eat this chicken sandwich!

Show Dogs' fried chicken stunner; photo by Brock Keeling.

Somewhere in between San Francisco’s overwrought burrito worship and our love for all things hamburger, we allowed the fried chicken sandwich to fall through the cracks. Blame it on Chick-fil-A, blame it on Rio. But there are a bevy of choice crispy fowl sandwiches from which to choose. Here are a few of our favorites, ranked by worthiness in the canon of fried chicken sandos: 

8. CDXX

We're putting this one on there for novelty's sake. This Bayview-based bar and grill (named after the time of day preferable for getting stoned, man) has a fried chicken sandwich that uses Doritos powder. Perfect for the munchies. Plus, that synthetic nacho tang reminds you of those halcyon days in the cafeteria of putting chips inside your sandwich. This should be required eating for all stoner SFSU  students. [Update: Said powder is not of the Doritos variety — at least not technically so. According to CDXX owner Fletcher Starkey, it's actually a spice mix made up of "chile powder, cayenne, granulated onion, granulated garlic, cumin and coriander seed, Mexican oregano, dehydrated buttermilk, and dehydrated cheddar cheese," made to taste like the popular nacho chip.]

7. Little Skillet

Technically a po boy, this beauty comes with a tangy remoulade and pickles. Look for it at lunch.

6. Marlowe

Marlowe remains one of the finest eateries in all the land. Since opening in 2010 it’s already home to the best hamburger in San Francisco (at least according to SF Chronicle’s Michael Bauer). So it should come as little surprise that their fried chicken sandwich also stands as one of the best. Because it comes topped with bacon. Meaty.

5. Naked Lunch

This North Beach joint uses dark meat in their fried chicken sandwich, as well as buttermilk slaw on a fresh pain de mie bun. Sprinkle it with Crystal hot sauce if you know what’s good for you. (Green garlic aioli when available! Otherwise, it’s regular garlic aioli the rest of the year.) 

4. Citizen’s Band

Chris Beerman’s SoMa staple offers comfort food with a lighter, chicer touch. The fried chicken sandwich, found on the lunch menu, comes topped with a roasted garnet yam, arugula, and garlic aioli on a Kaiser roll from Pinkie’s Bakery. (Psst, go on a Saturday and grab a donut at Pinkie’s!)

3. Memphis Minnie’s

Two things make this fried fowl gem special: first, the slaw uses vinegar in lieu of mayonnaise. Second, it’s only available on Thursdays. How exclusive

2. Salumeria

Fried twice daily, the fried chicken sandwich at Salumeria’s 20th Street location has gained a following since it landed on the menu. Chili aioli, red cabbage-carrot slaw, and an airy bun compliment a perfect hunk of meat that, much to one’s surprise, isn’t served hot. As SF Weekly notes, ”That the bird isn't served blazing hot out of the fryer is actually a good thing -- letting the chicken rest allows the flavors and juices to settle within itself while maintaining the crispy fried coating.” Genius.

1. Show Dogs

This little corner spot, smack at the corner of grit and gentrification in Mid Market, has a fried chicken sandwich that has no equal. It is, in a word, sublime. In another word, flavortown. Yes, it was featured on that show. We know. But get over it. Your gastronomic humility will be greatly rewarded with a combination of sweet, crispy, moist, and profound heat. The secret to this jewel of a sandwich is a cool dose of house-pickled ginger and a bite from lemon cayenne aioli. Order with a side of onion rings and score a seat at the corner table (next to windows looking onto Market and Golden Gate) for the ultimate sensory overload. (Vegetarian cutlet option available.)