When I cut into my first Kickin Chicken fried chicken breast, I wasn’t expecting something so tender and succulent. The spicy, salty and slightly sweet crispy coating gave way to juicy, flavorful and tender chicken. It was perfectly cooked. The cornmeal waffles had an unbelievably satisfying crunch. Hints of saltiness punctuated the sweetness of the maple syrup I had drizzled on. I found it most heavenly to skewer a piece of chicken on my fork with a bite of salty-sweet waffle underneath, before blissfully stuffing it into my mouth.

I’m not one to eat fried food on a regular basis, but I can guarantee that the next time I do, it’ll be Kickin Chicken.

This isn’t your average, run-of-the mill, greasy fried chicken. This is high-end comfort food prepared with precision. Maybe we’ve finally found the answer to why the chicken crossed the road. The key to chef Justin Williams’ top-notch chicken is of molecular gastronomy inspiration. The chicken is soaked in an herb brine, cooked in the sous vide method, then dipped in a spicy buttermilk batter and flash fried. A delicious maple cayenne beurre blanc sauce makes for an excellent addition to the party.

Haven’t gotten to try it yet? Never fear, you’ll get a chance this Friday at Midtown Café! Kickin Chicken will be popping back over to the Midtown kitchen for another “Fryday” night of slinging their tasty goodies.

Midtown Café is a coffee shop by day, serving breakfast and lunch, but on Friday nights they open their kitchen to host various pop-up restaurateurs. Things really start to sizzle when they pair local exciting food purveyors with different local beers and wines. Owner Zac Creager opened Midtown Café’s doors in January of 2014. After his team got their breakfast and lunch service squared away, he decided to utilize the space and liquor license by providing a place for blossoming chefs to showcase their talent.

The first pop-up at Midtown Café hosted H&H Fresh Fish, which was a smashing success. Since then they have hosted a plethora of tasty temptations, such as Kitchen Witch, El Salchichero, The Truck Stop, LionFish SupperClub, and a tantalizing bacon and chocolate collaboration put on by The Curated Feast, starring Mutari Chocolate and Wayne’s Fine Swine.

The growing pop-up movement in Santa Cruz has been removing barriers of access to tasty, local, creative food by changing the way chefs get started in the community and changing the way people eat. By sidestepping the start-up costs and risks associated with opening a new restaurant, chefs are able to experiment with menus while offering delicious yet affordable food to the public. Pop-ups are all about breaking the rules and shifting the paradigm of how people are fed! So get down to Midtown Café this Friday and “kick it” with Kickin Chicken.

Info: Kickin Chicken Pop-up at Midtown Café. 5 p.m. Friday, August 21.