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Sunday, May 09, 2021 — Houston, TX 84°

Where to find Houston’s best hot chicken sandwiches

sandwich-comp

By Rishab Ramapriyan and Channing Wang     4/28/21 12:08am

When the Hoot brought the Popeyes spicy chicken sandwich to Rice in 2019, students formed a line that ran past the info desk to wait for it. Hot chicken is no recent phenomenon. The fried chicken, floured, fried and covered in a spice blend, hails from Nashville, Tennessee. Students may not realize that Houston’s hot chicken scene extends well beyond Popeyes, from food trucks to brick-and-mortar stores. The two of us, the Thresher’s self-proclaimed hot chicken connoisseurs, decided to venture beyond the hedges in search of the best Nashville hot chicken sandwich in Houston. 

Disclaimer: Wait times were measured from the time that we placed our order to the time we had the food in our hands. The heat level we chose at all places was “Hot,“ even though it might not have been the maximum level. Restaurants are listed in the order we tried them.  

Howdy Hot Chicken



Channing Wang/Thresher

3520 S Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77098 

What we ordered: Howdy Sammie (Howlin')

Cost: $9.99

Wait: 9 minutes

When we walked into Howdy Hot Chicken, we immediately took note of the colorful interior design of this brick-and-mortar establishment. We ordered the Howdy Sammie, a fried chicken breast on a brioche bun, complete with coleslaw, howdy sauce and sweet pickles. The chicken arrived tender steaming hot in a sandwich larger than those at the other establishments we visited (and their max level is “Extra Hot”). Be warned: Howdy's definition of "Hot" was hotter than average. Despite its pros, the flimsy bun and lack of crunch fell short of our expectations. 

Yummy’s Bite

Channing Wang/Thresher

2829 Chimney Rock Rd, Houston, TX 77056

What we ordered: Syrian Fried Chicken (Spicy)

Cost: $8.99

Wait: 12 minutes

Located within the Galleria Food Truck Park, Yummy's Bite hosted a Syrian Fried Chicken sandwich that we could smell from a block away. We were met by an especially friendly server who explained the sandwich's unique fusion of Syrian spices with Nashville Hot Chicken, featuring a combination of habanero and eight other (mystery) spices. The sandwich features a toasted Challah bun and fresh, sweet red cabbage coleslaw, perfectly balancing the crunch and spice from the chicken. The bun was much more firm than Howdy, but not overpowering like the ones offered at Clutch City Cluckers. The spices were unparalleled and bold, deliberate and dynamic, generating a kaleidoscope of flavors on our palates. 

Clutch City Cluckers

Channing Wang/Thresher

5550 Val Verde St, Houston, TX 77056

What we ordered: Cluck It Like It’s Hot 2 Tenders Bun (Hot)

Cost: $9.99

Wait: 11 minutes

Another Galleria Food Truck Park staple, Clutch City Cluckers uses chicken tenders in their sandwich with the option to add on queso cheese at no additional cost. A large neon sign hangs on the side of the truck, perfect for a photoshoot with your meal. While Instagram-friendly, this sandwich was the least memorable in our testing — the bun-to-chicken ratio was too high, and the chicken itself wasn’t particularly spicy or crispy. If you're in the Galleria Food Truck area, we'd recommend walking an extra 100 feet to Yummy’s Bite instead. For a different take on Clutch City Cluckers, check out Thresher staffer Shiyu Miao’s previous review on this food truck. 

Main Chick

Channing Wang/Thresher

1731 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098

What we ordered: Slaw Slider (Hot)

Cost: $7.50

Wait: 4 minutes

Tucked in a small lot off Westheimer, Main Chick was amongst the closest to Rice campus out of all the places we visited. The sandwich here consists of a large chicken tender served on a brioche bun topped with cayenne pepper and coleslaw. Despite quick turnaround on the sandwich — which was two to three times faster than the other places we visited — the “Hot” spice level had little to no kick. However, the chicken was tender and easy to bite into. The price combined with the quick service might be a key factor for busy students wanting to get their hot chicken fix.

Bird Haus

Channing Wang/Thresher

1010 Prairie St, Houston, TX 77002

What we ordered: Chicken Sandwich with coleslaw (Hot)

Cost: $10.00

Wait: 15 minutes

Located inside Underground Hall in Downtown Houston, Bird Haus impressed us right from the first bite. Unlike any other establishments, Bird Haus used a chicken thigh for their sandwich rather than a traditional chicken breast, making the sandwich exceptionally juicy and flavorful. The breading on the sandwich was light and provided an audible crunch on the first bite. Their toasted brioche bun achieved the perfect balance between being large enough so that the sandwich didn't feel flimsy while not being so bulky that it distracted from the flavor of the chicken. For the optimal heat experience, we recommend sticking with “Hot”. The “Hot” heat level here enhanced the chicken without being overbearing. Their max level, “Reaper”, left the roofs of our mouths burning after just one bite. Although the wait is relatively long, we don't expect you to be disappointed. 

Final judgment

Given the unique flavor profile, the strong aroma, impeccable chicken and perfectly balanced components, Yummy’s Bite’s Syrian Fried Chicken was our favorite chicken sandwich of the expedition. Bird Haus was a close second and had the best ambiance of all the other establishments. We had also hoped to make a visit to the highly-rated Mico’s Hot Chicken, but it was unfortunately closed on the days we visited. However, both of us have tried Mico’s in the past and would strongly recommend checking out their Nashville hot chicken “Sammich,” which comes with generous portions of tender chicken breast, features bold spice profiles and parallels the elemental balance of Yummy’s Bite and Bird Haus. 

Rankings (1st to 5th place)

  • Bun: Bird Haus, Yummy’s Bite, Main Chick, Howdy Hot Chicken, Clutch City Cluckers
  • Quality of chicken: Birdhaus, Howdy Hot Chicken, Yummy’s Bite, Main Chick, Clutch City Cluckers
  • Spice/flavor profile: Yummy’s Bite, Howdy Hot Chicken, Bird Haus, Clutch City Cluckers & Main 
  • Ambiance: Bird Haus, Howdy Hot Chicken, Clutch City Cluckers, Main Chick & Yummy’s Bite
  • Wait Time: Main Chick, Howdy Hot Chicken, Clutch City Cluckers, Yummy’s Bite, Bird Haus 
  • Overall (only sandwich components): Yummy’s Bite, Bird Haus, Howdy Hot Chicken, Main Chick, Clutch City Cluckers


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