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17 Spots for Delectable Fried Chicken in San Diego

Dive into a crunchy, savory wonderland

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In the pantheon of comfort foods, fried chicken has earned its pedestal; indulging in good fried chicken is a soul-satisfying eating endeavor. And though San Diegans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the legendary Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles, there’s still plenty of fine fried chicken to be found around town.

This local list spans multiple styles and techniques, from Southern fried to Japanese and Korean-style, and spicy (though check out our Nashville hot chicken map for the real fiery stuff).

Ready to chow down? Read below for 17 top notch spots to indulge in crispy fried chicken.

Did we miss a favorite spot? Let us know on the tip line.

Note: map points are not ranked.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Miss Kim's by That Boy Good

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Soul food and barbecue are the specialties of this Oceanside restaurant where the fried chicken options are a standout. Fried chicken fiends have their choice of country-fried chicken thighs served with waffles or with cornbread and two sides, or as a sandwich option with a brioche bun.

Miss Kim’s By That Good Boy/Facebook

The Crack Shack

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This homegrown chicken and egg empire, with locations in Little Italy and Encinitas, is expanding nationwide with its menu of expertly-fried Jidori chicken available by the whole or half bird and in sandwiches like its popular Coop Deville, which tops a fried chicken breast with pickled fresno chilies, lime mayo, and cabbage. The immensely-snackable chicken oysters are also a must.

Cross Street Chicken and Beer

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This latest location in Del Mar Highlands, which joins its well-established spots in Kearny Mesa and the Windmill Food Hall, offers the bonus of a cocktail bar. Fin chicken wings, boneless tenders, drumsticks and even plant-based chicken, that can be flavored with a choice of seasonings that ranges from lemon pepper, Thai chili, and garlic parmesan to Seoul spicy and soy garlic.

Korean fried chicken wings at Cross Street Chicken and Beer Cross Street Chicken and Beer.

Tenkatori Miramar

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A Japanese chain centered around karaage, or Japanese-style fried chicken, has landed on Miramar bearing all manner of potato starch-battered crispiness. Find boneless chicken thighs, wings, tenders, gizzards, and even cartilage served with dippers like yuzu aioli and sweet and sour sauce.

Gala Chicken

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Find this tiny outlet specializing in Korean fried chicken in Zion Market, where it moved from its original spot inside the market area to the food court. Folks line up for made-to-order fried chicken coated with spicy or sweet soy glaze. The owners have all their ingredients shipped in from Seoul, where they have another outpost.

Bonchon Korean Fried Chicken

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South Korea-based Bonchon came to San Diego in 2018, bringing Korean-style fried chicken to Convoy Street. With more than 200 stores in nine countries, the restaurant’s twice-fried-to-order chicken comes with either a soy garlic or spicy glaze, or a mix of the two with its half-and-half. Order the best-selling chicken wings, or try chicken strips, drumsticks and boneless wings. 

Rhythm’s Chicken and Waffles

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The takeout window is always bustling at this Pacific Beach spot where locals dig into made-to-order chicken and waffles served as a plate or as a sandwich. The menu also features a Sriracha chicken sandwich, another version marinated in buttermilk, and even chicken sliders.

Surf & Soul Spot

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The daily seafood specials at this El Cajon joint are spot-on but order on Friday or Saturdays for a taste of their fried chicken wings as part of the combo plate. Fried until golden, the wings come with a choice of two sides: bay rice and smoked turkey gravy, baked mac ‘n cheese, sweet candied yams or smoked turkey collard greens.

Crispy Fried Chicken

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This longtime, low-key El Cajon Boulevard spot specializes in Southern-style fried chicken, hush puppies and sides like mac and cheese. Perfectly crispy on the outside and hot and tender on the inside, meals come in multiple combinations of strips, thighs, wings, popcorn, and even gizzard plates.

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop

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Pot pies aren’t the only chicken dish featured at this San Diego institution. Their fried chicken and waffles, four-piece fried chicken and the fried chicken breast are just three homey options available for dine-in, pickup or takeout.

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop/Facebook

StreetCar Merchants Chicken Bar

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Folks have flocked to StreetCar Merchants since they first opened in North Park in late 2014. They’re still frying up Mary’s Free Range Air Chilled Chickens too, Southern style and a twice-fried chicken Korean-style plus a chicken sandwich, all which come with a variety of sauces, including Sriracha mayo and sweet Korean BBQ.

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Streetcar Merchants/Facebook

Ali's Chicken & Waffles

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Tucked into the back of a City Heights Donut Star, this takeout-focused spot uses halal chicken as the base of its crowd-pleasing fried chicken. The tasty coconut syrup is a must when ordering fried chicken tenders with a waffle or try the spicy chicken sandwich slicked with Thai chili oil and herbed mayo.

Common Stock

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The surprise sleeper winner at this Hillcrest restaurant is the fried chicken. Order it as a sandwich served with muenster cheese, buttermilk slaw and bacon or as their version of hot chicken with Nashville hot sauce and a cheddar waffle.

Common Stock/Facebook

Barrio Bird

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Founded by sisters Ixchel and Maya Heredia with support from their father Ricardo, a chef at Little Italy’s new Coco Maya, this microenterprise home kitchen operation runs out of Barrio Logan. Offering online orders, with pickup every Saturday and delivery coming soon, their menu of “Chicano fried chicken” comes dipped in chili oil with a crispy coating reminiscent of Korean fried chicken. Whole or half birds are available, as are generously-sized fried chicken sandwiches. Don’t miss the sides, including borracha beans and esquites fuego.

A takeout box with a fried chicken sandwich and sides. Barrio Bird

Vons Chicken

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This South Korean import is the newest addition to the Korean-style fried chicken category. The National City location is the 20th in the nation, and serves six different styles and sauces of its wings, drumsticks and boneless chicken options. Along with sides like kimchi fried rice, Vons also sells sweet potato fries, onion rings and rice cakes.

Vons Chicken/Facebook

Royal Mandarin

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This no-frills restaurant in National City does huge business in traditional Chinese American entrées and sides but it’s their fried-to-perfection salted pepper wings, often sold in party-sized quantities, that are an all-time favorite for chicken lovers in the know.

Max's Restaurant, Cuisine of the Philippines

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The Filipino chain with more than 200 locations around the world has locations in Chula Vista as well as Mira Mesa. Known as “The House That Fried Chicken Built,” Max’s menu centers around its signature marinated and fried — not breaded — chicken, plus other traditional Filipino dishes ranging from chicken adobo to crispy pata and fried lumpia.

Max’s/Facebook

Miss Kim's by That Boy Good

Miss Kim’s By That Good Boy/Facebook

Soul food and barbecue are the specialties of this Oceanside restaurant where the fried chicken options are a standout. Fried chicken fiends have their choice of country-fried chicken thighs served with waffles or with cornbread and two sides, or as a sandwich option with a brioche bun.

Miss Kim’s By That Good Boy/Facebook

The Crack Shack

This homegrown chicken and egg empire, with locations in Little Italy and Encinitas, is expanding nationwide with its menu of expertly-fried Jidori chicken available by the whole or half bird and in sandwiches like its popular Coop Deville, which tops a fried chicken breast with pickled fresno chilies, lime mayo, and cabbage. The immensely-snackable chicken oysters are also a must.

Cross Street Chicken and Beer

Korean fried chicken wings at Cross Street Chicken and Beer Cross Street Chicken and Beer.

This latest location in Del Mar Highlands, which joins its well-established spots in Kearny Mesa and the Windmill Food Hall, offers the bonus of a cocktail bar. Fin chicken wings, boneless tenders, drumsticks and even plant-based chicken, that can be flavored with a choice of seasonings that ranges from lemon pepper, Thai chili, and garlic parmesan to Seoul spicy and soy garlic.

Korean fried chicken wings at Cross Street Chicken and Beer Cross Street Chicken and Beer.

Tenkatori Miramar

A Japanese chain centered around karaage, or Japanese-style fried chicken, has landed on Miramar bearing all manner of potato starch-battered crispiness. Find boneless chicken thighs, wings, tenders, gizzards, and even cartilage served with dippers like yuzu aioli and sweet and sour sauce.

Gala Chicken

Find this tiny outlet specializing in Korean fried chicken in Zion Market, where it moved from its original spot inside the market area to the food court. Folks line up for made-to-order fried chicken coated with spicy or sweet soy glaze. The owners have all their ingredients shipped in from Seoul, where they have another outpost.

Bonchon Korean Fried Chicken

South Korea-based Bonchon came to San Diego in 2018, bringing Korean-style fried chicken to Convoy Street. With more than 200 stores in nine countries, the restaurant’s twice-fried-to-order chicken comes with either a soy garlic or spicy glaze, or a mix of the two with its half-and-half. Order the best-selling chicken wings, or try chicken strips, drumsticks and boneless wings. 

Rhythm’s Chicken and Waffles

The takeout window is always bustling at this Pacific Beach spot where locals dig into made-to-order chicken and waffles served as a plate or as a sandwich. The menu also features a Sriracha chicken sandwich, another version marinated in buttermilk, and even chicken sliders.

Surf & Soul Spot

The daily seafood specials at this El Cajon joint are spot-on but order on Friday or Saturdays for a taste of their fried chicken wings as part of the combo plate. Fried until golden, the wings come with a choice of two sides: bay rice and smoked turkey gravy, baked mac ‘n cheese, sweet candied yams or smoked turkey collard greens.

Crispy Fried Chicken

This longtime, low-key El Cajon Boulevard spot specializes in Southern-style fried chicken, hush puppies and sides like mac and cheese. Perfectly crispy on the outside and hot and tender on the inside, meals come in multiple combinations of strips, thighs, wings, popcorn, and even gizzard plates.

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop/Facebook

Pot pies aren’t the only chicken dish featured at this San Diego institution. Their fried chicken and waffles, four-piece fried chicken and the fried chicken breast are just three homey options available for dine-in, pickup or takeout.

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop/Facebook

StreetCar Merchants Chicken Bar

OG sandwich
Streetcar Merchants/Facebook

Folks have flocked to StreetCar Merchants since they first opened in North Park in late 2014. They’re still frying up Mary’s Free Range Air Chilled Chickens too, Southern style and a twice-fried chicken Korean-style plus a chicken sandwich, all which come with a variety of sauces, including Sriracha mayo and sweet Korean BBQ.

OG sandwich
Streetcar Merchants/Facebook

Ali's Chicken & Waffles

Tucked into the back of a City Heights Donut Star, this takeout-focused spot uses halal chicken as the base of its crowd-pleasing fried chicken. The tasty coconut syrup is a must when ordering fried chicken tenders with a waffle or try the spicy chicken sandwich slicked with Thai chili oil and herbed mayo.

Common Stock

Common Stock/Facebook

The surprise sleeper winner at this Hillcrest restaurant is the fried chicken. Order it as a sandwich served with muenster cheese, buttermilk slaw and bacon or as their version of hot chicken with Nashville hot sauce and a cheddar waffle.

Common Stock/Facebook

Barrio Bird

A takeout box with a fried chicken sandwich and sides. Barrio Bird

Founded by sisters Ixchel and Maya Heredia with support from their father Ricardo, a chef at Little Italy’s new Coco Maya, this microenterprise home kitchen operation runs out of Barrio Logan. Offering online orders, with pickup every Saturday and delivery coming soon, their menu of “Chicano fried chicken” comes dipped in chili oil with a crispy coating reminiscent of Korean fried chicken. Whole or half birds are available, as are generously-sized fried chicken sandwiches. Don’t miss the sides, including borracha beans and esquites fuego.

A takeout box with a fried chicken sandwich and sides. Barrio Bird

Vons Chicken

Vons Chicken/Facebook

This South Korean import is the newest addition to the Korean-style fried chicken category. The National City location is the 20th in the nation, and serves six different styles and sauces of its wings, drumsticks and boneless chicken options. Along with sides like kimchi fried rice, Vons also sells sweet potato fries, onion rings and rice cakes.

Vons Chicken/Facebook

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Royal Mandarin

This no-frills restaurant in National City does huge business in traditional Chinese American entrées and sides but it’s their fried-to-perfection salted pepper wings, often sold in party-sized quantities, that are an all-time favorite for chicken lovers in the know.

Max's Restaurant, Cuisine of the Philippines

Max’s/Facebook

The Filipino chain with more than 200 locations around the world has locations in Chula Vista as well as Mira Mesa. Known as “The House That Fried Chicken Built,” Max’s menu centers around its signature marinated and fried — not breaded — chicken, plus other traditional Filipino dishes ranging from chicken adobo to crispy pata and fried lumpia.

Max’s/Facebook

Related Maps