Food trends are nothing new, but they serve as a distraction. With hot chicken garnering so much attention, it can be easy to forget the foundational chicken joints that have sated Dallasites’ craving for crispy yardbird for years.
At the intersection of Gaston and North Fitzhugh avenues in Old East Dallas is one of Dallas’ tried-and-true fried chicken destinations. For 12 years, Suzy and Chan Park have owned and operated Chicken House Plus, commonly called Chicken House around the neighborhood. Here they serve golden-fried goodness from an extensive but never pretentious menu.
“Like a tender, or fish or gizzard. You know, things like that,” Chan Park says are the most popular items. “Chicken? Yeah, absolutely.”
It’s the simplicity of the food and the sensation of the experience that keeps people coming back. The aroma of your order engulfs you the second you receive it through the small drive-thru window on the side of the building. Once home, the chicken retains its juices underneath the crispy, fried and salty shell that crackles and crunches as you take a bite. Few places elicit such a visceral and satisfying first bite. You can’t help but smile.
While the chicken is the star of the show, don’t sleep on the sides either. A family pack dinner includes a side of fries — pickled jalapeños, dill pickle slices and white bread are complimentary — but venture out from there.
Coleslaw, corn on the cob and mashed potatoes are some of the options to choose from, but they aren’t the stars. It’s the fried okra that shines. It’s crispy and decadently salty, the way fried okra should be. Order a large and marvel at how quickly it disappears one piece at a time.
A line of cars wrapping around the building isn’t an uncommon sight. Even in the throes of the pandemic, Park says business hasn’t been affected much. Chicken House doesn’t have indoor dining: It’s a simple building with a drive-thru outside and a walk-up counter inside. The couple does wear masks, face shields and gloves while they prepare orders.
As Chicken House weathers the pandemic, it’s also facing the rise of shiny new hot chicken spots popping up in its backyard. It doesn’t have a slick social media campaign or influencers gabbing about it — Chicken House isn’t on social media at all — but Park isn’t worried about his new competitors. Through their no-frills approach to fried chicken, he and his wife have built a Dallas institution capable of withstanding the latest food fad.
“We’re OK,” Park says. “Some people like [hot chicken], some people don’t like it. Everybody’s different. First time, they’re curious, they’ll want to taste it, then they’ll want to come back to something good. That’s the way it is.”
Chicken House Plus, 909 N. Fitzhugh Ave. (Old East Dallas). Open for takeout and drive-thru 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
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