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Middle Eastern-Spiced Nashville Hot Chicken Arrives in Hillcrest

Baba’s Chicken is just getting started in San Diego

Baba’s hot chicken sandwich with fried chicken tenders, pickles, and slaw on a brioche bun
Baba’s Hot Chicken Sandwich
Courtesy photo

Recently joining San Diego’s ever-growing hot chicken scene, Baba’s Chicken got its start as a pop-up in 2019 before graduating into a storefront at the Riverside Food Lab. Another location in Costa Mesa was followed by the fast-casual eatery’s first branch in San Diego, which opened in Hillcrest last month. The University Avenue outpost is currently operating from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily for takeout via online and phone orders, but will add indoor dining once permitted.

For Baba’s 28-year-old founder, Mahmoud “Mike” Hemood, fried chicken has been a life-long obsession. Born in Iraq and raised in Jordan where he and his family were refugees, Hemood first tasted Popeye’s after moving to California at age 10 and has been hooked ever since. While at college, he bought a deep fryer and began studying and developing his own recipe for Nashville-style hot chicken, which ultimately led to the creation of the original pop-up.

Incorporating a proprietary blend of Middle Eastern spices and using halal, hormone-free chicken, the menu includes Baba’s Hot Sandwich with two crispy chicken tenders, slaw, pickles, and house sauce on a brioche bun as well as Baba’s Loaded Fries, crinkle-cut fries topped with coleslaw, cheese sauce, ranch, and chopped chicken tenders. There are also sides that play into off-menu specials: diners can add a scoop of mac and cheese to any sandwich or replace the bun with two grilled cheese sandwiches.

As Hemood grows the concept he’s hoping to build a significant presence in the area, sharing that he plans to open five Baba’s Chicken locations across San Diego County.

Dining area of Baba’s Hot Chicken in Hillcrest
Baba’s Chicken Hillcrest
Courtesy photo

Baba's Hot Chicken

406 University Avenue, , CA 92103 (619) 310-5391 Visit Website

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