San Diego’s own Sam “the Cooking Guy” Zien is bringing 70s vibes and his spin on fried chicken to Little Italy via the CooCoo’s Nest, a new outpost that just opened at the Little Italy Food Hall where it joins Zien’s taco-based outfit Not Not Tacos. This is the latest partnership between Zien and Grain & Grit Collective, who also operate Graze by Sam across the Piazza Famiglia.
Replacing Wicked Maine Lobster, CooCoo’s Nest by Sam the Cooking Guy is open daily at 11 a.m., offering a menu that includes several variations on a hot chicken sandwich, ranging from the Hot Southern Sweetie doused in hot honey and served on a homemade buttermilk biscuit to the Good Fella, spiked with Calabrian chili aioli, and a Korean version glazed with gochujang. There’s also an egg-crowned breakfast sandwich with maple fried chicken and the mac and cheese-topped Mac Daddy.
Crispy fried chicken also factors into salads, such as a classic Caesar and a Chinese chicken salad, as well as chicken tender combos paired with handcut fries and sauces like garlic aioli and house ranch.