Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Scratchers, smokes, Colt 45 ... and a greasy bird

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 2:00 PM

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Some like it hot...and greasy
My friend Truman lives in one of the older neighborhoods east of Troost: "You know, baby," he says, "the land without big shiny supermarkets, but lots of little stop-n-shops." He says one of the biggest difference between convenience stores in the inner city and those in the suburbs is the style of carry-out foods.

"QuikTrip is like a fancy restaurant compared to most independently owned urban shops," he says. "At QT you can get a variety of hot or cold sandwiches, fruit-and-cheese plates, crudite with dip, cheeseburgers and breakfast sandwiches. In my neighborhood, it's limited to candy, cigarettes and fried chicken."

The aroma of fryer grease is the first thing that hits you inside the convenience store in the Valero station at 1704 Grand, which does a brisk business selling Chester's Fried Chicken. Chester's Fried is the trademark of Birmingham, Alabama-based Chester's International, which offers in-store franchises (convenience shops, truck stops, supermarkets) and runs outposts in mall food courts.

The chicken at this Valero sits in pans in a glass display case under really bright heat lamps. Honestly, the stuff doesn't look so great at first glance -- the grease has long since seeped through the cardboard containers. But surprise: The fried bird is pretty tasty: very crunchy -- it's double-breaded, according to the company's website -- with a golden, peppery batter. The meat can be a little dry on the legs and wings, but the bigger pieces I tried one day this week were good.

Meanwhile, at the northeast corner of Armour and Troost, there's the Fast & Friendly Food Mart. The employees operate from behind friendly bulletproof windows, and the store carries Krispy Krunchy Chicken ("The hottest chicken franchise in the nation!" according to its website), a product that arrives at its franchisee locations "flavor-injected and pre-marinated with our own Cajun spices."

But the chicken I tasted from this venue wasn't spicy -- or crunchy. It was far too greasy to be crispy (the paper bag containing the bird was nearly saturated by the time I got it home). On the other hand, the pieces were much more moist than the Chester's variety. Bigger, too.

Which is better? Frankly, for the dough, I can't recommend either. You can get bigger and tastier fried bird for a few cents more at Popeye's or Church's. But those are a lot less convenient for some because fast-food outlets don't let you pick up a pack of Newports, a cinnamon-flavored lollipop, a 2-liter of soda, and a copy of Kansas City's Most Wanted at the same time.

 

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