Good to Go: The Spicy Bird at Roots Chicken Shak

The Spicy Bird at Roots Chicken Shak proud as a peacock
The Spicy Bird at Roots Chicken Shak proud as a peacock Lauren Drewes Daniels
Good to go is a column where our food writers explore Dallas' restaurant scene through takeout orders, delivery boxes and reheated leftovers.

Chef Tiffany Derry opened Roots Chicken Shak in 2017, serving all manner of things (chicken and fries, mostly) deep-fried in duck fat. A recent flurry of chicken sandwiches to the area (and last year around the country) has put this humble sandwich in the spotlight.

A year ago, if someone had suggested we go out for "chicken sandwiches," my reaction would have been indifference. Now, I'd want to hear more: What level are we talking about? Because, if nothing else, there are now definitely levels of chicken sandwiches.

Roots Chicken Shak has a strong social media game, so regularly scrolling past amazing pictures of the restaurant's food was like a siren call. I also noticed they've been directing attention to delivery and pre-order options, indicating there's a wait at their counter tucked inside Legacy Hall in Plano.

So we ordered ahead, starting on Legacy Hall's website, which bumped us over to ToastTab. Online ordering is such a fantastic amenity to eating out now, I don’t see how we go back to standing in a line in front of a cashier ever, if at all possible. 

After placing our order on my phone, we got an estimated wait (25 minutes); which would have been twice that had we gone inside to order at the counter with a line five-people deep.

Also, there isn't a lot space in front of their kitchen. It's a challenge to stay six feet away from others, who are also waiting for food and standing close enough to hear names being called from behind a mask. 

click to enlarge The spicy bird in full fighting form - LAUREN DREWES DANIELS
The spicy bird in full fighting form
Lauren Drewes Daniels
With all that said, Roots is clearly the busiest spot in Legacy Hall for good reason. I ordered the spicy bird, a kicked-up version of the chicken sandwich with a pepper jack cheese, which is seared onto the thick crust with a blowtorch just before leaving the kitchen.

The layer of seasoned kale salad, pickles, tomatoes, red onion and pepper were all proportional perfection. And at $8.95, it's a reasonable chef-prepared piece of art. 

The sandwich looks unmanageable in the box, but it’s easily pulled together and handled. The sweet potato bun did its job superbly. After cutting the sandwich in half and diving into it, all the contents were held together to the last bite.

The fries are cooked in duck fat, which renders the inside just a touch smushy and the outside extra crispy: the same result you'd get when double frying, but they’re not double fried. 

click to enlarge Duck fat fries are light and super crisp. - LAUREN DREWES DANIELS
Duck fat fries are light and super crisp.
Lauren Drewes Daniels

We had intended on taking our food home, but the box garden in the center of Legacy Hall had a sparse crowd. Plus, we spotted someone wiping down tables as soon as other diners left. Large box fans in the corners and umbrellas over tables offer just enough relief from the heat. 

click to enlarge Outdoor dining at Legacy Hall is a good social distancing option. - LAUREN DREWES DANIELS
Outdoor dining at Legacy Hall is a good social distancing option.
Lauren Drewes Daniels

We got a salad to go, and an hour later when it was assembled and devoured, the chicken tenders on top of the salad were crisp and dry, and in no way oily. The salad itself was fresh and bright with the house-made vinaigrette. 

Derry’s chicken sandwich alone is worth a trip out to Legacy Hall. If you go, be sure to order ahead using the website. GrubHub and UberEats are also an option.

Legacy Hall itself has a lot of great dining options, a list of which is available online. The space feels a bit like its name: passing through a hallway, so it's tight in places. It’s not an indoor space I’d eat in right now, but plenty of others didn't seem to have a problem with it. 

Roots recently announced it is spreading its duck fat-fried wings to Austin, where it will be part of a similar food hall concept called H-E-B at Mueller, which is slated to open in August.

Roots Chicken Shak, 7800 Windrose Ave. inside Legacy Hall, Plano. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.