Via magazine
Via magazine - Your AAA Magazine

The Via Blog travel news + notes + tasty tidbits

of
  • the Banh Mi and Outsider sandwiches at Starbird Chicken in Sunnyvale, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Carolyn Jung
    Photo caption
    The Outsider sandwich (left) and the Banh Mi sandwich at Starbird Chicken. The new fried chicken concept in Sunnyvale hopes to reinvent fast food with higher quality ingredients and contemporary combinations.
  • Seoul Mate and California tacos at Starbird Chicken with house-made strawberry lemonade, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Carolyn Jung
    Photo caption
    The Seoul Mate crispy chicken taco (left) is topped with tangy slaw, kimchi, sesame seeds, and house-made sweet and spicy Seoul sauce. The California Roll taco is made with honey lime slaw, sesame seeds, and wasabi aioli. Both are seen here with the house-made strawberry lemonade.
  • the Chicken Chop salad at Starbird Chicken in Sunnyvale, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Carolyn Jung
    Photo caption
    The Chicken Chop salad includes Starbird's signature crispy chicken with tomatoes, roasted corn, avocado, pepitas, crispy tortillas, cotija, and cilantro, and served with chipotle lime dressing.
  • a side of Super Slaw at Starbird Chicken in Sunnyvale, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Carolyn Jung
    Photo caption
    The Super Slaw, which can be ordered as a side, is made with dino kale, cabbage, carrots, and sesame seeds.
  • the Starbird Drumstick is a house-made chocolate-dipped cone with vanilla ice cream, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Carolyn Jung
    Photo caption
    For dessert, Starbird offers a house-made chocolate-dipped cone with Three Twins vanilla ice cream, topped with your choice of almonds (seen here) or crushed toffee.
  • Interior of Starbird Chicken's first location in Sunnyvale, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Carolyn Jung
    Photo caption
    The interior of Starbird Chicken's first location in Sunnyvale.

Suffering from burger burn-out? Fast-food fatigue?

Starbird Chicken, which opened its first location in Sunnyvale, Calif., in June (a second location in Foster City will open by year’s end), aims to provide an antidote by disrupting the traditional drive-thru—with delectable fried chicken no less.

We’re talking fried chicken made with free-range, air-chilled, antibiotic-free Petaluma Poultry, coated with King Arthur gluten-free flour and cooked to order, served on buns baked in-house. Also on the menu: organic, cage-free eggs; Equator Coffee ground and brewed to order; and house-made drumsticks ($3.75) topped with Three Twins organic vanilla ice cream, Guittard chocolate, and a choice of chopped almonds or Heath Bar toffee.

For those who get tongue-tied at a drive-thru speaker or can’t be bothered with lines, Starbird provides an out by letting you order on its app. Pull into one of the 16 parking spots, select "I’m here," and your food is delivered in about five minutes. Eat in your car, inside the restaurant, or take it to go. You also can order through the website or just walk inside as I did.

Sandwiches, salads and tacos are made with chicken breasts and tenders, and they are quite moist with a greaseless, crunchy exterior. Choose from various vehicles and flavor profiles. The Banh Mi ($6.95) piles the fried chicken with pickled carrots, cilantro, five-spice mayo, and enough jalapeño rings to get the palate tingling. The Chicken Chop salad ($8.95) offers a play of textures with cabbage, romaine, roasted corn, guacamole, pepitas, cotija, and chipotle lime dressing.

My favorite way to enjoy the chicken is wrapped in a corn tortilla, which lets its crispiness really shine through. The Seoul Mate taco ($3.50) with kimchi and a sweet-spicy Korean sauce reminds me of the famed Kogi Truck tacos in Los Angeles. The California Roll ($3.50) with avocado and wasabi aioli tastes remarkably like the sushi staple.

Grilled chicken or Hodo Soy tofu can be substituted on anything. But you know you’re there for the fried chicken, so go for it. And don’t pass up the ice cream cone lined in dark chocolate.

Starbird Chicken: 1241 W. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale. (650) 988-6630. starbirdchicken.com.