Eating fried chicken can be a blissful experience. Those moments when you raise the first piece, examining it from all sides to find the perfect spot to begin, followed by the crackle of salty coating as your teeth break into the juicy meat are one of life’s great simple pleasures. It doesn’t matter if you prefer a thigh, breast or drumstick. In these moments, we are all equal. Now imagine if that chicken could be brought to your door—with waffles. You didn’t even have to put on pants!
This surreal from-the-couch fantasy becomes reality with Kickin Chicken, your friendly local late-night fried chicken kitchen. Buddies Daniel Mendoza and Justin Williams have been delivering deep-fried happiness to the Santa Cruz area since 2014, and, OK, they probably would prefer you to be wearing pants when you answer the door.
Kickin Chicken’s menu focuses on fast delivery of exquisitely fried fowl, which they brine sous vide before flash frying. The results are a crispy exterior and super juicy, evenly-cooked flesh. They also mix it up with sides like macaroni and cheese (occasionally topped with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos), kimchi fried rice and Brussels sprouts with bacon. In addition to their combos, everything can be ordered à la carte. This fall, they plan on bringing back their infamous Hot Chicken, a spicy revelation burning with the heat of their house-fermented cayenne lava—I mean, sauce.
Here are the rules: order online at orderstart.com/kickinchicken Tuesday through Friday before 6 p.m. and choose your delivery time, otherwise it will arrive within an hour. They deliver to UCSC and in Santa Cruz, as far as the Live Oak area. If you’re farther south, just be sure to pre-order and they’ll find a way to get you your chicken fixin.
Kickin Chicken doesn’t have a permanent storefront, but you can catch them for lunch every Thursday, from 11:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m., at the Pop Up space on Pacific Avenue next to Assembly, and occasionally at New Bohemia Brewing Co. on 41st Avenue. Follow them on Instagram @kickinchickensc to stay up-to-date on special events and new menu creations.
But what would dinner be without dessert? All Nighter Cookies, another local late-night fairy godmother, will bring you fresh-baked cookies and ice cold milk from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Order through their website allnightercookies.com.