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The National from Mélange turns doro wat into a fried chicken sandwich.
The National from Mélange turns doro wat into a fried chicken sandwich.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

17 Essential Fried Chicken Sandwiches Around D.C.

Crave-worthy sandwiches come in classic styles or with Asian, Indian, and Ethiopian twists

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The National from Mélange turns doro wat into a fried chicken sandwich.
| Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The summer of 2019 was all about the Popeyes effect. When the fried chicken chain debuted its chicken sandwich, the nation was consumed in poultry panic. From that time on, some D.C. restaurants added crispy poultry options to try to ride the wave, while others, like affordable standout Roaming Rooster, benefited from added attention on their preexisting specialty. In 2020, new additions to this list include Open Crumb, the Anacostia carryout that holds down the Southeast D.C. neighborhood with $5 fried chicken sandwiches on homemade buns with tender thigh meat; Melange, the burger joint that serves a crispy chicken sandwich coated in Ethiopian doro wat spices; and Present Company Public House, the Mt. Vernon Triangle area bar that puts a maple-whiskey sauce on its Nashville hot chicken sandwich. Chef Rock Harper’s Queen Mother’s debuted in 2020, too, but is in between homes after leaving the Ghostline chef’s collective in Glover Park.

If there’s a favorite local fried chicken sandwich that you think should have made the cut, send us a tip.

A number of D.C. area restaurants have resumed dine-in service. The level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns. The Washington Post is tracking coronavirus cases and deaths in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. More information can be found at coronavirus.dc.gov. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Roaming Rooster

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3176 Bladensburg Rd NE
Washington, DC 20018
(202) 507-8734
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This D.C. favorite, the winner of the latest Washington City Paper reader poll for best fried chicken sandwich in the city, comes from brothers Michael and Biniam Habtemariam. They’ve grown from their original food truck to a business with a four-truck fleet and two standalone locations: the Woodridge original and a newer addition on U Street NW. Roaming Rooster will be part of the opening lineup inside Foggy Bottom’s Western Market food hall in 2021, too.

A classic fried chicken sandwich with slaw from Roaming Rooter
A classic fried chicken sandwich with slaw from Roaming Rooter
Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post via Getty Images

2. Brookland's Finest Bar and Kitchen

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3126 12th St NE
Washington, DC 20017
(202) 636-0050
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This neighborhood haunt sells a Southern-style chicken club with applewood-smoked bacon, mozzarella, tomato, and a Crystal hot sauce remoulade on a brioche bun for $15. Brookland’s Finest offers it with grilled chicken, too.

WASHINGTON, DC - March 2: Shannan Troncoso is the chef at Brookland’s Finest
Brookland’s Finest chef Shannan Troncoso.
Kate Patterson for The Washington Post via Getty Images

3. Federalist Pig

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1654 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 827-4400
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Prepare to get messy. This fried chicken sandwich, referred to as the “Jimmy Muscles,” is a chicken breast sandwich piled high with pork belly, jalapeno relish, a sticky garlic and ranch sauce, and herbs on a sesame seed bun.

4. Lucky Buns

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2000 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

Many people gravitate to this Adams Morgan hangout for burgers, but don’t sleep on the fried chicken thigh sandwiches. A Hot Tiger Bun has Sichuan pepper paste, a Dirty Bird Bun ha Shark brand sriracha, and a Japanese-style Katsu bun come with tonkatsu sauce, karashi mustard slaw, nori, and soy-pickled cucumbers. There’s a Thai chili mumbo sauce version, too.

5. Service Bar DC

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926-928 U St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 462-7232
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This Shaw cocktail bar, a favorite of service industry workers, is known for its lemon-brined fried chicken. It offers two sandwiches to-go and on its parklet patio: an original with special sauce and pickles, and one from former Rake’s Progress chef Opie Crooks that’s covered in buttermilk dressing and a hot sauce butter.

A Rake’s Progress chef Opie Crooks created a fried chicken sandwich for Service Bar with “Snake Oil” hot suace butter and buttermilk dressing.
A Rake’s Progress chef Opie Crooks created a fried chicken sandwich for Service Bar with “Snake Oil” hot suace butter and buttermilk dressing.
Rachel LaMarca/For Service Bar

6. Right Proper Brewing Company (Multiple locations)

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624 T St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 607-2337
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This local brewery and pub in Shaw serves a popular riff on a certain chain’s iconic fried chicken sandwich. The Southern-fried “chick-filet” ($13) comes on a brioche bun with Boursin cheese, pickles, lettuce, and tomato.

A chicken sandwich from Right Proper
A chicken sandwich from Right Proper
Right Proper Brewing [official]

7. Your Only Friend

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1228 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

The sandwich pop-up from Columbia Room partner Paul Taylor turns the fancy cocktail bar into a sandwich shop that maintains its granular, modernist approach to blending ingredients. a Big Mac-style Return of the Mack and a spiced-up Hot Nugget both achieve an impressive feat of engineering with a supersized, fast-food-style nugget big enough to fill out a sesame seed bun. The shop mixes ground chicken meat with transglutaminase, a naturally occurring “meat glue,” that keeps the nugget juicy inside a tempura-adjacent batter.

The Hot Nugget sandwich from Your Only Friend
The Hot Nugget sandwich from Your Only Friend
Your Only Friend [official]

8. Melange

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449 K St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 289-5471
Visit Website

Ethiopian-American chef Elias Taddasse has run Michelin-starred French kitchens, but his first D.C. restaurant is this burger shop in Mt. Vernon Triangle. The marquee menu item is the National, a berbere-dusted fried chicken sandwich that channels warming doro wat stew with a runny egg, turmeric slaw, and a clarified butter aioli.

The National from Mélange turns doro wat into a fried chicken sandwich.
The National from Mélange turns doro wat into a fried chicken sandwich.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

9. Bindaas (Multiple locations)

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2000 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

The Indian street food restaurant’s Foggy Bottom location serves a Parsi-style fried chicken sandwich with beet tomato chutney for $14.

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You think you handle this spice??

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10. Present Company Public House

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438 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 289-1100
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Chef Lincoln Fuge brings a fine dining touch to the pub food at this standout firehouse bar with a brick-lined patio on Massachusetts Avenue NW. The Nashville native’s hot chicken sandwich ($15) comes with a Maine maple sugar and whiskey sauce, pickles, and slaw on a potato bun.

The patio at Present Company
The patio at Present Company
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

11. Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken (Multiple locations)

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1308 G St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 809-5565
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This homegrown chain serves fried chicken sandwiches on doughnut buns at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including a honey-hot sauced iteration and a twist on the classic BLT.

12. Fuku

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1415 N Danville St
Arlington, VA 22201

Operating out of a delivery-only “ghost kitchen” in Arlington, this fried chicken chain from celebrity chef David Chang carries sandwiches built on chicken breasts brined in habanero chile puree. Pickles and a spicy Fuku mayo complete the simple package, served on a Martin’s potato roll.

The Fuku sandwich includes a 6-ounce chicken breast cutlet brined in habanero chile puree with pickles, and a spicy Fuku mayo on a Martin’s potato roll.
The Fuku sandwich includes a 6-ounce chicken breast cutlet brined in habanero chile puree with pickles, and a spicy Fuku mayo on a Martin’s potato roll.
Fuku [official]

13. Little Pearl

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921 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 618-1868
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The sister restaurant to Rose’s Luxury and Pineapple and Pearls offers a fried chicken sandwich ($13) during lunch that gets a slight kick of spice from a Yemeni-style hot sauce. Customers can order it to go through Tock.

14. Hot Lola's

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4238 Wilson Blvd Level C
Arlington, VA 22203

Chef Kevin Tien’s hot chicken sandwich combines flavors from Nashville and the Sichuan province of China. Find it in varying heat levels at his fast-casual spot inside the food hall at Ballston Quarter.

15. Bluejacket

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300 Tingey St SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 524-4862
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The fried chicken sandwich ($16) at this sprawling brewery in Navy Yard is coated in one of D.C.'s favorite condiments: sweet, sticky mumbo sauce. It can also be doused with a hot-wing style Buffalo sauce.

16. Open Crumb

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1243 Good Hope Rd SE
Washington, DC 20020
(202) 610-9979
Visit Website

Along with Ghanaian carryout like red red stew full of black-eyed peas and plantains, chef Peter Opare’s Anacostia storefront offers a $5 fried chicken thigh sandwich served on soft, buttery buns he bakes himself.

The fried chicken sandwich from Open Crumb, right
The fried chicken sandwich from Open Crumb, right
Deb Lindsey/for The Washington Post via Getty Images

17. Wooboi Hot Chicken (Multiple locations)

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531 Montgomery St
Alexandria, VA 22314

Chef-owner Minwoo Choi serves some of the area’s spiciest hot chicken sandwiches ($8.99) at this local shop, with locations open for pickup and delivery in Herndon and Alexandria. Customers pick from six heat levels, ranging from “classic” to “code blue.”

The Sando with level-two heat at Wooboi 
The Sando with level-two heat at Wooboi 
Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

1. Roaming Rooster

3176 Bladensburg Rd NE, Washington, DC 20018
A classic fried chicken sandwich with slaw from Roaming Rooter
A classic fried chicken sandwich with slaw from Roaming Rooter
Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post via Getty Images

This D.C. favorite, the winner of the latest Washington City Paper reader poll for best fried chicken sandwich in the city, comes from brothers Michael and Biniam Habtemariam. They’ve grown from their original food truck to a business with a four-truck fleet and two standalone locations: the Woodridge original and a newer addition on U Street NW. Roaming Rooster will be part of the opening lineup inside Foggy Bottom’s Western Market food hall in 2021, too.

3176 Bladensburg Rd NE
Washington, DC 20018

2. Brookland's Finest Bar and Kitchen

3126 12th St NE, Washington, DC 20017
WASHINGTON, DC - March 2: Shannan Troncoso is the chef at Brookland’s Finest
Brookland’s Finest chef Shannan Troncoso.
Kate Patterson for The Washington Post via Getty Images

This neighborhood haunt sells a Southern-style chicken club with applewood-smoked bacon, mozzarella, tomato, and a Crystal hot sauce remoulade on a brioche bun for $15. Brookland’s Finest offers it with grilled chicken, too.

3126 12th St NE
Washington, DC 20017

3. Federalist Pig

1654 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009

Prepare to get messy. This fried chicken sandwich, referred to as the “Jimmy Muscles,” is a chicken breast sandwich piled high with pork belly, jalapeno relish, a sticky garlic and ranch sauce, and herbs on a sesame seed bun.

1654 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, DC 20009

4. Lucky Buns

2000 18th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009

Many people gravitate to this Adams Morgan hangout for burgers, but don’t sleep on the fried chicken thigh sandwiches. A Hot Tiger Bun has Sichuan pepper paste, a Dirty Bird Bun ha Shark brand sriracha, and a Japanese-style Katsu bun come with tonkatsu sauce, karashi mustard slaw, nori, and soy-pickled cucumbers. There’s a Thai chili mumbo sauce version, too.

2000 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

5. Service Bar DC

926-928 U St NW, Washington, DC 20001
A Rake’s Progress chef Opie Crooks created a fried chicken sandwich for Service Bar with “Snake Oil” hot suace butter and buttermilk dressing.
A Rake’s Progress chef Opie Crooks created a fried chicken sandwich for Service Bar with “Snake Oil” hot suace butter and buttermilk dressing.
Rachel LaMarca/For Service Bar

This Shaw cocktail bar, a favorite of service industry workers, is known for its lemon-brined fried chicken. It offers two sandwiches to-go and on its parklet patio: an original with special sauce and pickles, and one from former Rake’s Progress chef Opie Crooks that’s covered in buttermilk dressing and a hot sauce butter.

926-928 U St NW
Washington, DC 20001

6. Right Proper Brewing Company (Multiple locations)

624 T St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
A chicken sandwich from Right Proper
A chicken sandwich from Right Proper
Right Proper Brewing [official]

This local brewery and pub in Shaw serves a popular riff on a certain chain’s iconic fried chicken sandwich. The Southern-fried “chick-filet” ($13) comes on a brioche bun with Boursin cheese, pickles, lettuce, and tomato.

624 T St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

7. Your Only Friend

1228 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
The Hot Nugget sandwich from Your Only Friend
The Hot Nugget sandwich from Your Only Friend
Your Only Friend [official]

The sandwich pop-up from Columbia Room partner Paul Taylor turns the fancy cocktail bar into a sandwich shop that maintains its granular, modernist approach to blending ingredients. a Big Mac-style Return of the Mack and a spiced-up Hot Nugget both achieve an impressive feat of engineering with a supersized, fast-food-style nugget big enough to fill out a sesame seed bun. The shop mixes ground chicken meat with transglutaminase, a naturally occurring “meat glue,” that keeps the nugget juicy inside a tempura-adjacent batter.

1228 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

8. Melange

449 K St NW, Washington, DC 20001
The National from Mélange turns doro wat into a fried chicken sandwich.
The National from Mélange turns doro wat into a fried chicken sandwich.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Ethiopian-American chef Elias Taddasse has run Michelin-starred French kitchens, but his first D.C. restaurant is this burger shop in Mt. Vernon Triangle. The marquee menu item is the National, a berbere-dusted fried chicken sandwich that channels warming doro wat stew with a runny egg, turmeric slaw, and a clarified butter aioli.

449 K St NW
Washington, DC 20001

9. Bindaas (Multiple locations)

2000 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20006

The Indian street food restaurant’s Foggy Bottom location serves a Parsi-style fried chicken sandwich with beet tomato chutney for $14.

2000 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

10. Present Company Public House

438 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
The patio at Present Company
The patio at Present Company
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Chef Lincoln Fuge brings a fine dining touch to the pub food at this standout firehouse bar with a brick-lined patio on Massachusetts Avenue NW. The Nashville native’s hot chicken sandwich ($15) comes with a Maine maple sugar and whiskey sauce, pickles, and slaw on a potato bun.

438 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

11. Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken (Multiple locations)

1308 G St NW, Washington, DC 20005

This homegrown chain serves fried chicken sandwiches on doughnut buns at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including a honey-hot sauced iteration and a twist on the classic BLT.

1308 G St NW
Washington, DC 20005

12. Fuku

1415 N Danville St, Arlington, VA 22201
The Fuku sandwich includes a 6-ounce chicken breast cutlet brined in habanero chile puree with pickles, and a spicy Fuku mayo on a Martin’s potato roll.
The Fuku sandwich includes a 6-ounce chicken breast cutlet brined in habanero chile puree with pickles, and a spicy Fuku mayo on a Martin’s potato roll.
Fuku [official]

Operating out of a delivery-only “ghost kitchen” in Arlington, this fried chicken chain from celebrity chef David Chang carries sandwiches built on chicken breasts brined in habanero chile puree. Pickles and a spicy Fuku mayo complete the simple package, served on a Martin’s potato roll.

1415 N Danville St
Arlington, VA 22201

13. Little Pearl

921 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003

The sister restaurant to Rose’s Luxury and Pineapple and Pearls offers a fried chicken sandwich ($13) during lunch that gets a slight kick of spice from a Yemeni-style hot sauce. Customers can order it to go through Tock.

921 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003

14. Hot Lola's

4238 Wilson Blvd Level C, Arlington, VA 22203

Chef Kevin Tien’s hot chicken sandwich combines flavors from Nashville and the Sichuan province of China. Find it in varying heat levels at his fast-casual spot inside the food hall at Ballston Quarter.

4238 Wilson Blvd Level C
Arlington, VA 22203

15. Bluejacket

300 Tingey St SE, Washington, D.C. 20003

The fried chicken sandwich ($16) at this sprawling brewery in Navy Yard is coated in one of D.C.'s favorite condiments: sweet, sticky mumbo sauce. It can also be doused with a hot-wing style Buffalo sauce.

300 Tingey St SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

Related Maps

16. Open Crumb

1243 Good Hope Rd SE, Washington, DC 20020
The fried chicken sandwich from Open Crumb, right
The fried chicken sandwich from Open Crumb, right
Deb Lindsey/for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Along with Ghanaian carryout like red red stew full of black-eyed peas and plantains, chef Peter Opare’s Anacostia storefront offers a $5 fried chicken thigh sandwich served on soft, buttery buns he bakes himself.

1243 Good Hope Rd SE
Washington, DC 20020

17. Wooboi Hot Chicken (Multiple locations)

531 Montgomery St, Alexandria, VA 22314
The Sando with level-two heat at Wooboi 
The Sando with level-two heat at Wooboi 
Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Chef-owner Minwoo Choi serves some of the area’s spiciest hot chicken sandwiches ($8.99) at this local shop, with locations open for pickup and delivery in Herndon and Alexandria. Customers pick from six heat levels, ranging from “classic” to “code blue.”

531 Montgomery St
Alexandria, VA 22314

Related Maps