Seven unexpected restaurants serving surprisingly good crispy chicken sandwiches | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Seven unexpected restaurants serving surprisingly good crispy chicken sandwiches

click to enlarge The Fried Chicken Sandwich at Wiener World in Downtown Pittsburgh - CP PHOTO: RYAN DETO
CP Photo: Ryan Deto
The Fried Chicken Sandwich at Wiener World in Downtown Pittsburgh
Fried chicken sandwiches are everywhere right now. After a well-publicized battle starting in 2019 between Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Chick-Fil-A over who had the best fast-food chicken sandwich, just about every other franchise and food joint has introduced their own Southern-style fried chicken sandwich. Even in Pittsburgh, far from the Southern states, it's not hard to find one.

But the Southern style of chicken sandwich — with its buttery bun, deep-fried chicken breast, and briny pickles — is not the only crispy chicken sandwich around. Pittsburgh places offer a wide variety of chicken sandwich options, and Pittsburgh City Paper has highlighted some of the best, some of which are served at restaurants many people might not expect.

Here are seven unexpected restaurants that have surprisingly good crispy chicken sandwiches.


Wiener World - Fried Chicken Sandwich

626 Smithfield St., Downtown. facebook.com/WienerWorldPitt
Sometimes, a throwback is a good thing. Fried chicken sandwiches, made with chicken patties, became popular in the 1980s across America, and while they still maintain popularity, they are not as trendy as their Southern-style cousins.

But it's hard to find one served outside of a fast-food chain. Luckily, Wiener World in Downtown Pittsburgh has one on its menu, and it has all the retro goodness one might desire.

A large deep-fried chicken patty rests on a bed of shredded lettuce and thinly sliced tomato. Topped with yellow cheese and served with mayonnaise on a fluffy sesame seed bun, it’s a perfect version of a fried chicken patty sandwich.

The chicken is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. And the lettuce and tomato add just enough freshness and crispness to keep the relatively large sandwich light. The sesame bun is a nice addition with a little nuttiness. Grab it with some fries, some of the best shoestring fries in the city.


Mola - Crispy Chicken Bao

6018 Penn Ave., East Liberty. themolafish.com
Sandwich bread doesn’t have to be a yeasted roll. A soft bao bun is a fine replacement.

The Crispy Chicken Boa at Mola is an excellent chicken sandwich, and for a place that specializes in sushi and rice bowls, it’s completely unexpected.

Mola’s bao is filled with crispy baked organic chicken with panko-like crust, topped with slaw, and served with sriracha mayo. The chicken breast is large and easily eclipses the succulent bao, but the chicken is juicy enough that it’s delicious on its own. Order two if you are really hungry.


click to enlarge The Fried Chicken Biscuit from the Speckled Egg - CP PHOTO: LUCY CHEN
CP Photo: Lucy Chen
The Fried Chicken Biscuit from the Speckled Egg

The Speckled Egg - Fried Chicken Biscuit

501 Grant St., Downtown. thespeckledeggpgh.com
The Speckled Egg is already sort of hidden away inside the Union Trust Building, and as a restaurant mostly focused on brunch food, fried chicken might not immediately come to mind.


But the joint offers a great Fried Chicken Biscuit sandwich that combines another side of Southern food. Instead of a brioche bun, it's a crumbly and fluffy square biscuit. And instead of butter grease or mayo as the sauce, The Speckled Egg serves their version with pimento cheese, as well as the classic sliced pickles.

A great late morning fried chicken sandwich.

Alquisiras Paleteria - Torta de Milanesa de Pollo

2056 Broadway Ave., Beechview. facebook.com/alquisiraspaleteriapittsburgh
Mexican sandwiches, aka tortas, are starting to come into fashion here in Pittsburgh, and it's about time. While these handhelds are usually stuffed with avocado, lettuce, tomato, salsa, and stewed taco meat, sometimes they come with drier ingredients.

At Alquisiras Paleteria — a shop more known for ice cream — a Torta de Milanesa de pollo will fulfill any crispy chicken sandwich desires. Milanesa de pollo is a thinly pounded chicken breast that is breaded and fried.

Alquisiras version comes on a rectangular torta bun, with tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, cheese, beans, and mayonnaise. It's a nice south-of-the-border twist on the crispy chicken sandwich.

Soju - Spicy Chicken Sandwich

4923 Penn Ave., Garfield. simonchough.wixsite.com/sojupgh
Korean fried chicken is one of the best examples around, so it's not out of left field that Soju has a great fried chicken sandwich. But their version is a bit surprising in that it's in slider form and has a spicy kick.

Soju’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich lays fried chicken on Hawaiian Sweet rolls, with spicy mayo, roe, and house pickles. Every ingredient is great, but the chicken is the star.

Soju’s fried chicken is so packed with flavor, each bite is surprising. And a great vehicle for that is a chicken sandwich.

Kaya - Fried chicken sandwiches

2000 Smallman St., Strip District. kaya.menu
At this Caribbean-inspired restaurant, Jamaican jerked chicken might seem like the obvious choice, but Kaya’s fried chicken sandwiches shouldn’t be overlooked.

The original fried chicken sandwich comes with pickles, cabbage, and habanero honey mustard for a sweet-spicy kick. But if one really wants some heat, Kaya’s Nashville Hot fried chicken is crispy, but covered in a cayenne sauce. Make sure to drink plenty of water.

Burgh’ers - Fried Chicken Sandwich

3601 Butler St., Lawrenceville. burgherspgh.com
Obviously, this restaurant is known for its burgers, and they are very good. But Burgh’ers also has a fantastic fried chicken sandwich that shouldn’t be missed.

The Fried Chicken Sandwich comes in mini and normal size, with the normal being fairly large. All the chicken is juicy and delicious and comes with tomato, onion, and fresh mixed greens. Wash it down with a craft beer, which Burgh’ers brews on-site.

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