Fried Chicken & Thrift:
A Dynamic Duo for Sustainable Seattleites
by Sam Kuper and Jake Larson
Similar to the recent upward trend of buying clothing secondhand, breaded and fried poultry has seen a dramatic increase in popularity in many social media channels over the past few years. While a 1990s Levi’s jacket on Poshmark or Depop might not draw the same demand as a Popeye’s chicken sandwich, they both nonetheless represent the power and influence millennials and Gen Z have in popular media. Here at Thrift Collective, we appreciate the ease of use and pricing of American fast food establishments like Chick-Fil-A or KFC, but believe that supporting small businesses goes further to promote economic sustainability and stability for our local communities—especially amid a global pandemic. Thus we decided to marry three of our favorite things—chicken sandwiches, shopping, and sustainability (progressive, I know)—and scour the greater Seattle area to find the best local fried chicken sandwiches within walking distance of thrift stores.
While Seattle is no Nashville when it comes to its tradition in the fried chicken industry, its diversity in culture and people has produced an assortment of interpretations of the classic chicken sandwich. From the “Soy Garlic” chicken sandwich of Bok-a-Bok to the Hawaiian-inspired sandwich of Ma’ono, these local businesses are representative of the creativity and resourcefulness of Seattleites to turn a classic into something of their own. This is why thrifting has become so popular here, and is the reason you can get excellent Italian and Ethiopian food within a few blocks of each other. We are a city of immigrants, and our culture of turning an American staple—such as a chicken sandwich or shopping—into an exercise of creativity and sustainability is engraved in our DNA. So next time you go thrift shopping in Seattle and build up the appetite that comes with searching for those thrift gems, we hope that this article will convince you to quell that hunger with these local chicken sando stops.
Our Favorite: Bok a Bok - Capital Hill
The Food. The “Soy Garlic Chicken Sandwich” puts a distinctive twist on the traditional fried chicken sandwich, as its twang of asian flavor coupled with its superb tempura like crunch mixes Korean and southern flare. Despite its thickness, the sandwich maintains a light, airy complex that is rounded out by the subtle yet distinguishable lemon aioli spread.
Come For. A quick bite that will leave you yearning for more street food. This location on Cap Hill features a walk-up window that makes food on the go convenient and easy, ensuring you still have time to make it to the local thrift store.
Thrift Nearby. Goodwill Capitol Hill, Le Frock Vintage, Out of the Closet - Seattle
Spice is Nice: Mean Sandwiches - Ballard
The Food. The spiciest of the sandwiches on this list, The Buon Appetito presents a multitude of distinct flavors - the saltiness of the melted provolone cheese, and the creaminess of the mayo that balances the hotness of the spicy chili that coats the inner surface of the bread.
Come For. Any occasion! This small, hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop features a variety of sandwiches, making it a fantastic jack of all trades type lunch spot for those who like plenty of options.
Thrift Nearby. Goodwill Ballard, Buffalo Exchange, ReStyle for Ryther
No Place like Home: Wandering Goose - Cap Hill
The Food. The Aunt Annie’s chicken sandwich is highlighted by its honey bread and pickles, which have a unique sweetness that creates the ultimate collaboration of sweet and savory. It is further characterized by its open face, showing off it's sizable, perfectly crisped outer edge. Topped with their own house mustard, the rest of the sandwich brings home traditional fried chicken tastes that encapsulate the homey southern experience.
Come For. The charming, southern-inspired homey setting. This spot has a cute and cozy cafe vibe that is perfect for a mid afternoon lunch paired with a cup of coffee. Wandering goose offers the perfect rest spot to give you a break from all that shopping.
Thrift Nearby. Take 2 New and Recycled Apparel, Crossroads Trading, Lifelong Thrift Store
The Hangout Spot: Ma’ono - University Village
The Food. This sandwich, characterized by its hawaiian bun and other asian-pacific influences, delivers on both size and flavor. While many white meat sandwiches experience problems with dryness, Maono’s sandwich maintains juiciness that is further supplemented by its spice and the umami factor of the japanese kewpie - Japan’s version of mayo. We ordered fries on the side, but ended up getting a second sandwich instead! This was a welcome surprise, no doubt about it.
Come For. a late afternoon drink with friends. Located within the Rachel’s Ginger Beer at U Village, this spot makes for the ideal hangout spot to have a fully handcrafted dinner after a long day.
Thrift Nearby. Goodwill U District, Crossroads Trading, UW Surplus Store
A Seattle Classic: Ezell’s Fried Chicken - Wallingford
The Food. Despite not having an actual “sandwich”, this iconic fried chicken is a staple of Seattle food culture. Creating a mock sandwich using their rolls and their barbecued baked beans as a “special sauce,” Ezell’s chicken hits perfect for those seeking traditional southern chicken highlighted by the perfect crisp.
Come For. A Seattle classic that never goes out of style. Similar to that of Bok a Bok, Ezell’s store front features a walk up window that makes getting in and out quick and easy any time of the day. Featuring a walk up window similar to that of Bok-A-Bok, this joint is Covid and social distancing-friendly.
Thrift Nearby. Assistance League of Seattle, Lucky Dog on the Ave, Buffalo Exchange
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