"If you’ve had one chicken sandwich, you’ve had them all."
That’s like saying if you’ve slept with one blonde, you’ve slept with them all.
While burgers, pizza and pork have been proudly hogging the food spotlight across the Valley, the unassuming and often overlooked chicken sandwich has been humbling honing and refining its craft. We’re not talking chicken sammies that simply sub bird for burger; we’re talking thoughtful and thought-provoking layered masterpieces that pack and pair chicken with some unlikely bunkmates.
Here are eight greats that celebrate and elevate the whole chicken sandwich category. We
say, have your way with them all.
Chicken Sandwich at Rocket Burger & Subs
If you broke the ingredients down—fried chicken breast, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, mayo—this one could sound plain Jane, verging on McDonald’s territory. But seeing is believing. The toasty bun and crisp garnishes get points, but the star is inarguably the chicken. The hefty behemoth of breast is gloriously crisp, with peaks and valleys that could give the Grand Canyon a run for its money.
As for atmosphere, there’s more substance than style going on at both the north Phoenix and Chandler locations, both of which are pared down, counter-service joints with plenty of retro pop flavors and no attitude. Wash the bird down with a sip of nostalgia and you’ll leave saying, I’m lovin’ it.
What The Cluck? at Nocawich
When you order “What The Cluck?” and the gal ringing you up sighs in delight and declares, “I eat it every day!" you know you’re getting something special. And it is. That breast is loved before it hits the bun—brined overnight, dipped, drudged, and deep fried until the exterior gets really, really crispy while the interior stays really, really juicy. And this is no puny piece of poultry; it’s mammoth in size and flavor.
Exceptional marks continue for the bread and butter pickles, the creamy slaw and house-made Parker Roll, a slightly sweet bun glistening with a top coat of melted butter, honey, and flakes of sea salt.
This sandwich demands respect— and lots of napkins.
Crispy Chicken Sammie at Ingo’s Tasty Food
Is there a proper way to construct a chicken sandwich? Like art (and Kardashians) sandwiches are subjective, but after tasting Ingo’s standout, we’ve flip-flopped to a firm yes.
From the ground up it goes: spicy aioli, sliced granny smith apples, dilly pickles, chicken schnitzel, all topped off with a smidge more aioli between a squishy-soft, sesame-topped bun.
The minimal yet mighty toppings are thoughtfully built to capitalize crunch and thwart sogginess, plus each elevates the other. The spicy sauce plays off the sweet pickles plays off the sour crunch of the apples plays off the soft hug of the bun. That said, the chicken is the indisputable star, a piping hot boneless breast, pounded, schnitzel’d and deep-fried to tender, fall-apart perfection.
Put it all together and each architectural bite is a sweet-spicy-sour-savory masterpiece.
Crispy Chicken at Worth Takeaway
Let’s deconstruct, shall we? The slab of chicken breast is deep-fried to seal in the juicy insides and coated in a honey Sriracha sauce, a seemingly contradictory combo that makes total sense. The house-made pickles pop but don’t overpower, the bibb lettuce adds crunch, the mayo lends tang, and let's not forget the fresh-baked proof ciabatta, a spongy, nook-filled cloud that encapsulates and elevates the saucy yet sophisticated insides.
The whole thing has a finger-licking dimension that bathes your mouth (and fingers) in a sweet-savory symphony—and you won’t want to miss one delightful drip. We hate to throw in a pun with such a legit sandwich, but it is definitely worth it.
Bumblebee at Welcome Diner
The proportions are all off. It almost looks lonely served up on a big white plate garnished with two measly cubes of watermelon.
But biting into this Southern-inspired biscuit behemoth from Welcome Diner, the 9-stool, 200 square foot retro-cool eatery in Phoenix’ downtown Garfield hood, makes it all right. To reach chicken sandwich stardom you have to get the chicken right—and this bird is absurdly good.
Dressed in honey, the ethereal outside is golden brown, all cracked and craggy so the honey has plenty of hiding spots, while the moist insides are deeply satisfying. Layered with grainy mustard and pickles and topped and bottomed with a high-rise, gently flaking homemade buttermilk biscuit, each bite is like an indulgent, mouth-stretching sport.
Chicken Sandwich at Lux on Central
Choosing the best chicken sandwich at Lux is like picking which of your kids you like best.
For me it came down to a heart-wrenching split between the Grilled Chicken Sandwich, a ruler-thick grilled chicken breast layered with green apple slices, arugula, gruyere and honey mustard on buttered ciabatta, and the Grilled Cheese Supreme, a crispy, cheesy delight layered with tomato, bacon, jalapeno, avocado, and a slab of grilled chicken. Both showcase brined, marinated, never-frozen chicken that’s as tender as it gets. Both feature local, organic produce that sings despite the crowded space. And both are memorable in an Mmm-Mmm good way.
Gun to our head, we’re going with the latter, but only because its profile has a smidge more color-popping personality (and I'm a sucker for anything with avocado).
Phat Azz Samich at Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles
Oftentimes touristy eateries get free passes on their grub. Food may be supersized and the menu outlandish, but it’s more about saying you ate there than unforgettable food. Lo-Lo’s is an exception.
Yes the food is supersized and the menu outlandish (and what the heck is in the neon-colored Kool-Aid everyone’s sipping?), but their novelly-named Phat Azz Samich stands on its own.
Delivered open-faced on a platter with a hefty side of fries, even the two sturdy strips of bacon and mound of melty cheddar can't hid the chicken's herb-a-licous crunch.Topped off with ruby red tomatoes, crisp lettuce, and a bouncy brioche bun buttered and toasted just right, it’s a wide-mouth eat with soul and substance.
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Hot & Spicy Chicken Sandwich at The Original Hamburger Works
Let’s start with the best part: price. This bad boy is under $7.
The chicken is delivered fresh daily to The Original Hamburger Works, where it's butterflied, mesquite broiled over an open flame, and squirted with spicy sauce (psst: plain is the bomb too, but we opted for the tricked out
version), before getting slapped onto a toasted-just-right sesame bun.
Then they let you loose on the toppings bar, a wagon-sized trough of fresh tomatoes, lettuce, onion, pickles, jalapenos, mustard, mayo, and more, that’s housed in an actual wagon. Stack that sucker like a skyscraper and revel in the kitschy nostalgia of the place's trikes, wagons, and retro neon signs that dangle from the walls.