Too tender to pass on: three chicken sandwich restaurants to try out in D.C.

Oct. 15, 2023, 8:59 p.m. | By Mooti Chimdi | 6 months ago

A look into some very popular and tasty chicken sandwiches

Whether it be after a long walk in D.C. or a simple craving for soul food, chicken sandwiches seem to hit the spot every time. While D.C. isn’t exactly known for its chicken sandwiches, there are still some great restaurants out there to check out anytime you happen to visit the nation's capital.

Roaming Rooster

With 11 locations around the DMV, Ethiopian-owned restaurant, Roaming Rooster has established itself as a staple for all chicken lovers in D.C. The most popular menu item, the OG Nashville, is a buttermilk fried chicken breast topped with homemade vinaigrette slaw and pickles. It’s so popular that it even caught the attention of Insider Food and the Washington Post in 2020. 

The sandwich features a great balance of acid and heat. Included with it is a side of ketchup, honey mustard, or their new rooster sauce. The breading of the sandwich can occasionally be soggy due to the vinegar filled coleslaw, but that should never be an issue when immersed in the Ethiopian seasoning. However, if you’re daring to try the spicy option you can expect a great load of heat to pierce through your mouth and provide a unique flavor.

On to restaurant layout, Roaming Rooster takes a simplistic approach, not being too crafty with its decor. The D.C. location is already pretty spacious, but Bethesda and Gaithersburg offer more tables to dine at. Waiting for your sandwich at Roaming Rooster should never take more than 10 minutes on a weekday but could push to 20 on a weekend. 

The outside of Honeymoon Chicken on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Photo courtesy of Sadie Blain.

Honeymoon Chicken

Formerly known as Ensemble Food in Bethesda, Honeymoon has started a new life at its new location in Northwest D.C. With most people learning of Honeymoon from Instagram and others news coverage, Honeymoon has become an increasingly well-known spot for all soul food lovers. Their most iconic chicken sandwich, the Honeymoon Chicken Sandwich, features a crispy honey chicken breast, cilantro-lime slaw, cheddar, and a unique comeback sauce.

In terms of no-heat sandwiches, it's hard to say that anything beats the $10.50 Honeymoon Chicken Sandwich. Its flavorful comeback sauce and extremely tender chicken help complement the blastful seasoning the chicken has to offer. The toasted bun also makes the sandwich evermore enjoyable to eat as it never feels like it gets soggy from the cilantro-lime slaw.

With Honeymoon only having one location in Northwest D.C., the location has a small local restaurant feel at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Upshur Street. There are only a few group dining spots for customers. Even though the store is packed on weekends, in-person orders are near instantaneous.

Dave's Hot Chicken

Another Instagram-famous spot is Dave's Hot Chicken, also located in Northwest D.C. Dave's Hot Chicken has many other locations across the country, but this is the closest to Silver Spring. Dave's specializes in chicken, mac and cheese, fries, and shakes. 

With the first bite of the $6.69 no-heat Dave's Chicken Sandwich slider, you'll find that you're mostly tasting chicken. There isn't much acid to balance out or match with the tenderness of the chicken. Even with the amazing Dave's sauce, the kale slaw needs some extra vinegar to help stabilize the chicken. Luckily, the bun is well-toasted, with a great buttery flavor to compliment the impeccably seasoned chicken.

On the other hand, Dave's arts and decor is what makes it stand out from the rest, with graffiti designs on the walls and a large spacious Broadway-like environment and attracts a large crowd even on weeknights.

Whether you want the perfect balance of acidity from Roaming Rooster, the buttery toasted bun from Honeymoon Chicken or just a regular chicken sandwich from a major restaurant chain like Dave's Hot Chicken, D.C. always has something to offer.

Last updated: Nov. 9, 2023, 8:45 p.m.

Tags: D.C. Food Review Restaurants Food

Mooti Chimdi. Hi I'm Mooti (he/him). Besides writing for SCO, I like to eat and run. More »

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