Streetcar Merchants does chicken betterEat This! Thursday, October 1st, 2015
Move over, Colonel. Forget about doing chicken right. Streetcar Merchants does chicken better.
My attractive dinner companion and I worked up a huge appetite one afternoon and hungered for a late lunch. Lestat suggested we try something different and check out Streetcar Merchants. They proudly serve fried chicken, housemade doughnuts, specialty coffee and craft beer. Wh-what? Chicken and doughnuts? Color me there!
The cozy high-ceilinged space fronts on two busy North Park streets. Large open windows fill the restaurant with natural light and gentle breezes. Walls of reclaimed wood, a long counter sheathed in thousands of pennies, communal tables of gleaming planks and steely pipes provide an inviting, unpretentious industrial pub-like feel. We placed our orders at the counter and found seats on the shady patio. A little patience is required because every dish is made to order – there are no microwaves, freezers or heat lamps. No worries – we had plenty of time and a great perch for people watching.
I sipped a Ballast Point Wahoo White ($6.50) while Lestat savored a Three Thieves Cabernet Sauvignon ($6.50). The beer is a cloudy unfiltered Belgian (4.5% ABV) with citrusy flavors of orange peel and coriander. The refreshing light-bodied brew complimented the meal without overpowering my palate. The dark red wine (13.5% ABV) is resonant with black cherry and tart berry flavors with notes of coffee and spice. The pour’s long and full-bodied finish stood up well to the piquant sweetness of spicy chicken and waffles.
Served on tissue-lined trays, we shared the Big Ed Special ($11) and an order of Wasabi BBQ K-town wings ($7), with sides of Creole Potato Salad ($5) and Big Mama’s Red Beans and Rice ($6). The Special includes three large meaty Southern-style chicken wings and a waffle. I’d never before been able to align the flavors of savory chicken with sweet waffles in my mind, but I’m here to testify they join together in perfect harmony. The succulent Korean-style wings are double fried which imbues them with an amazing crispy glaze, and the burn of wasabi is tamped down by the rich molasses in the tangy BBQ sauce. The Creole Potato Salad is simply the best I’ve ever tasted – the perfect blend of crunchy chopped celery, onion and firm diced spuds, dressed in creamy mayo with a teasing bite of cayenne pepper. The sublime vegetarian red beans and rice are prepared with red and green peppers, served with fluffy white rice, and are stick-to-your-ribs delicious.
Did I mention doughnuts? Streetcar Merchants’ doughnuts are made from scratch daily using the highest quality ingredients. Every doughnut is lovingly hand rolled, cut and dressed. The unique varieties include Salted Nutella Stuffed, Strawberry Milkshake and Molasses Maple Bacon. Sated, we grabbed two Root Beer Floats ($2.50 each) to go.
Since opening last December, Streetcar Merchants’ mouthwatering fried chicken has been flying out the door, because the best fried chicken begins with the best birds. Louisiana-born owner Ron Suel uses Mary’s Free Range Chickens from the San Joaquin Valley. The premium air-chilled, no-water added chickens are delivered fresh six days a week, which assures the juiciest most flavorful selection. You have your choice of three different preparations – traditional Southern style, Nashville Hot with Ghost chile, or K-Town double fried. Suel is cooking up new creations, too, such as Popcorn Chicken with Honey Pecan glaze. Eat this, hungry readers. You’ll be glad you did.
4002 30th Street in San Diego
Monday-Thursday and Sunday: 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
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