If there’s one place in Los Angeles that tourists and locals should visit, it’s the Grand Central Market. Grand Central Market is a landmark that has been around since 1917. Today, the historic spot has been turned into a food hall with some unique and tasty eats. Follow the aroma to Lucky Bird, one of the must-tries at Grand Central Market. If you live in Los Angeles or watch the news, you know that LA is fried chicken crazy at the moment. Chinatown’s Howlin’ Rays still commands an average wait of two hours for their Nashville hot chicken, while Popeye’s had customers waiting in hour-long lines for their new fried chicken sandwiches.
At Lucky Bird, you can get a juicy and flavorful fried chicken sandwich, minus the line. Lucky Bird, which opened in the summer of 2018, is not your typical fried chicken restaurant. The menu itself is short and simple, with some seasonal additions here and there. There is a three-piece fried chicken basket and a five-piece fried chicken bucket, a fried chicken sandwich with smoked paprika aioli, a fried chicken breakfast burrito, as well as a fried chicken skins side that’s added in from time to time. The menu also has a chicken and waffles plate, as well as an array of homemade sides like buttermilk biscuits, coleslaw, pickled vegetables and macaroni salad, in addition to beer and wine.
Lucky Bird is owned and operated by head chef, Chris Dane, and his wife, Christine. What really sets them apart from competitors is that they try to use locally sourced and organic ingredients. Chef Chris and his team make every item on the menu from scratch, from their fried chicken, to their hot sauce. They use Mary’s Free-Range chickens from Pitman Family Farms, which are costlier, but make a world of difference in taste.
The fried chicken at Lucky Bird has perfectly crispy, crunchy skin, while remaining tender and juicy on the inside. Each piece of chicken is topped off with freshly grated lemon zest and sea salt. Each bite of chicken packs a tangy lemon taste and a satisfying crunch.
Chef Chris also makes unique sauces like the Habanero Honey and Smoked Paprika Aioli. The chilies in his signature hot sauce are marinated and fermented for a week before he and his team blend it up with an array of spices and vinegar. He makes a point to try to use the entire chicken for all his dishes because the quality is so good. At Lucky Bird, they even toast their buns with the chicken fat that they scrape from the chicken skin.
Chef Chris’ chicken is labor-intensive. He and his team even had to custom-build special pressure fryers to use for their fried chicken. Their pressure fryers ensure that all those juices stay inside the chicken when it’s fried, so the product becomes juicier and more tender when finished. It also allows the chicken to spend less time in the oil, resulting in a less greasy and lighter product.
“We brine our chicken in a citrus brine, use Wondra flour and fry in pressure cookers. Wondra is an instant flour and doesn’t absorb oil like a regular flour, so it becomes crispier and lighter when used in frying. The citrus brine gives a nice refreshing note to the often heavy taste of fried chicken, and we finish the chicken with fresh lemon zest and Maldon sea salt to fortify that lemon flavor,” says Chef Chris proudly.
A favorite at Lucky Bird is the Buffalo Bird, which is Lucky Bird’s version of a spicy chicken sandwich. Instead of pickles, it comes with pickled jalapeños, and the chicken is drenched in buffalo sauce. The bun is soft with a slight sweet taste, and the chicken is never greasy or oily. Lucky Bird has also added fried chicken breakfast burritos, served on weekends from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The breakfast burrito is composed of fried chicken, soft scrambled eggs, onions and jalapeños that Chef Chris sweats in chicken fat, chopped cilantro and melted cheese, along with Yukon gold potatoes, all wrapped in a tortilla.
Lucky Bird is one of the newer additions to the century-old Grand Central Market that has been revived with modern, delicious eats.
Lucky Bird is located inside Grand Central Market, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013.