The best fried chicken in LA can be found in grocery stores


It grabs you just as you walk into your local grocery store: puffs of frying oil and chicken permeate the entrance which pulls you, almost subconsciously, to the prepared food section. Los Angeles grocery stores have long been a place to buy ready-made and affordable fried chicken, but the offerings have spread beyond conventional batter on thighs, breasts, wings and thighs. . While big box stores have sold it for decades, Southern California Asian markets also showcase the greatness of fried chicken to entice customers, providing the ultimate grocery cart addition for easy weekday dinners. .

Walk into any SoCal Vons, Tokyo Central in Torrance, or a gas station convenience store, and fried chicken is available up to 24 hours a day. It’s a hot option that doesn’t need to be reheated at home, and like most comfort foods, it can ease a busy work day. Travel through this giant region and discover that one grocer’s recipe is completely different from another. It’s a safe assumption that people no matter what city they live in are grateful for a meal that’s easy to eat, reasonably priced, and as is the case with Courtney Nichols, owner of the Disco Dining Club. , deeply nostalgic.

“There are certain tastes of ’90s Los Angeles that will be remembered forever,” says Nichols. “The great cold, See the candies, the lobster bisque at Hamburger Hamlet. But number one is the fried chicken strips at Gelson’s. It’s a rite of passage in LA to be [hooked] to those chicken strips, and I was [eating] these chicken strips since the early ’90s. But I can dive head first into fried chicken from any supermarket.

As a longtime LA resident, Nichols remains loyal to the local grocery store fried chicken. “I’m a huge fan of bringing up most of the things people expect from places like Ralphs, Albertsons or Safeway. There’s a plethora of quality take-out items on the shelves, as well as quality ingredients for the fried chicken, which has always been top notch, ”she says.

Without a doubt, the fried chicken made to order from restaurants like by Gus or Hotville chicken will always be cooler than what is found under heat lamps in grocery stores. The pre-made variety can be too oily with minimal crunch, while restaurants like Jim dandy or Bonchon delivering decades of recipe refinement. But the pros of fried chicken at the grocery store always outweigh the cons, says Otoño owner Teresa Montaño. “Strictly speaking, it’s still just as satisfying. It’s something I crave once I’m at the gym where I can get fat protein, ”says Montaño. “It’s always available and you don’t have to spend a lot of money or [use] one of the third-party apps. Stop by Ralphs, grab some chicken, whatever you need, and that’s it.

My own relationship with fried chicken is complicated: I had a period of 15 years where I didn’t touch it. There are several reasons for this choice, starting with my doctor’s regular reminder that hypertension is common in our family. And as a black woman, the long-held stereotype surrounding black people and our alleged obsession with fried chicken made me unwilling to participate in its consumption in public or private. I even refused to help once when the editors updated a city-wide map for fried chicken.

But in 2018 a friend asked me to accompany him to Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. After taking a bite, I remembered how much I missed this beautifully marinated karaage, as well as my mom’s amazing recipe, which is always juicy and perfectly seasoned. Essentially, I regained my love for fried chicken because Los Angeles excels in the dish, whatever the style. I even managed to Miss Sippee, which sold exceptional southern-style fried chicken from a gas station mini-market until it closed in 2020.

From stand-alone restaurants to mini-markets and everything in between, fried chicken is a staple of LA food culture: even the things that wait to be stuffed into takeout boxes at Ralphs. Below are a few highlights of fried chicken in Los Angeles grocery stores, from the sweet and spicy portions of Chicken Qchon at S-Mart in Torrance, to the golden pieces of Louisiana chain Krispy Krunchy Chicken, presented in alphabetical order.


If you visit the Albertsons location on Crenshaw near Martin Luther King Boulevard, take a look at the prepared foods section on any given day. The line that winds down the snack aisle can queue up to 20 people or more. These customers are patiently waiting to order bags full of regular or spicy fried chicken.

Ma’n’Pa grocery store

Ma’n’Pa grocery store owners Zac and Renee Henderson took over this Belmont Heights market 17 years ago, although the current store is 100 years. The charming neighborhood institution offers fried chicken on Wednesdays.

Mitsuwa West LA

Mitsuwa, one of the oldest grocery stores in LA, has a food court where sushi, ramen or pastry shop. But number 23 – which has a fried chicken plus in sauce – comes in the form of a combination plate that can be eaten on the spot or packaged for later consumption.

Mitsuwa number 23 fried chicken special
Mona Holmes

Chicken Qchon from S-Mart in Torrance

Wait until the car doors are closed and soak up the aroma of Chicken Qchon. Spicy or regular, this little vendor opened in Torrance’s S-Mart 10 years ago and makes beautifully seasoned and exceptionally crispy Korean-style fried drumsticks.

Showcase of Qchon Chicken in S-Mart in Torrance, California.

Chicken Qchon at S-Mart
Mona Holmes

ralph lauren

According to a company spokesperson, all Ralphs stores go through the same process to prepare their fried chicken. There is a different flavor profile for chicken fillets, which are soaked twice in the deep fryer with a different breading technique than fried chicken. This dish is the best-selling dish in Ralphs grocery stores across the region, and you can’t beat the price tag of $ 7.99 for eight pieces. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Los Angeles has three less Ralphs stores to buy fried chicken, while Long Beach has one that closed earlier this year. Ralphs parent company Kroger claimed those stores were underperforming, but the decision to close the stores came after both city councils passed a temporary pay hike for store workers during COVID-19.

A pack of fried chicken variety from the Ralphs grocery store in Los Angeles, California.

Ralphs Fried Chicken Variety Pack
Mona Holmes

Seiwa Market

Head straight to the left corner of this South Bay Japanese grocery store to find a packet of fried chicken and grab a bottle of sparkling plum water on the way out. Then pay to the cashier and place directly in the microwave for lunch or dinner. by Seiwa the chicken is completely filling and around $ 4.

Fried Chicken from Seiwa Market in Torrance, California.

Seiwa Fried Chicken
Mona Holmes

Central Vermont Market

The name of the store is a mouthful, and one of the best SoCal markets to find Louisiana Crispy crispy chicken on Vermont near 54th Street in South LA. The space is a combination of a corner market and liquor store with a Michoacana ice cream shop. Krispy Krunchy can also be found at five locations throughout Los Angeles, and sometimes in gas station markets.

2515 Torrance Blvd, Torrance, CA 90503

5402 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, California 90037

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