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What's a Chick-Fil-A?

A recent thread on lime rickeys mentioned that there is a chain called Chick-Fil-A with an outlet in the Burlington Mall. Being a northeast boy myself, this is a novel concept to me. I gather from the web site that they do lots of chicken -- can one of you Southern expats enlighten me on what to look for, should Mrs.Jimbob want to hit Nordstrom's?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Their tag line is "we didn't invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich." Their regular chicken sandwich is a bun, brushed with butter, a fried, breaded chicken breast and 2 pickle slices. It's a classic and the barometer for all such sandwiches in my mind.

    The chicken is breaded then fried in a pressure cooker. I've never had better for what it is. They have quite an array of menu choices but if I were going for the first time, I'd stick with the standard. Many people love the waffle fries.

    Note, every one of them is closed on Sundays.

    17 Replies
    1. re: ccbweb

      They don't brush the buns with butter anymore.

      Yes, Chick-fil-A is the best quick place to get a chicken sandwich. Part of what makes it great is that they fry in PEANUT OIL, which makes everything taste yummy, but anyone with peanut allergies should avoid the place altogether. The chicken salad sandwich (ask for it toasted) is also pretty good.

      They do a great breakfast too! The chicken biscuit is the most popular and is to die for. Also great are the chicken minis, which are chicken nuggets wrapped in a yeast roll and drizzled with honey butter - it doesn't get much closer to heaven. For a slightly lighter breakfast, the chicken on multigrain bagel is spot on.

      1. re: starbucksbrew

        Huh, the website still describes it as a "buttered bun." Maybe they just include the butter in the bun? I haven't had one in a few months.

        1. re: ccbweb

          I have eaten at Chick-fil-a for 26 years. They used to slather bright yellow butter on the inside of the bun, and I always had to ask for no butter. A few years ago I asked for no butter, and they told me they don't do that anymore. I haven't had to ask it since. Maybe in some places they still do it, but not Florida or Georgia (where it originated).

          1. re: starbucksbrew

            http://chickfila.com/#menu

            Click "Classics" then "Chicken Sandwich" then "Description". Described as a "toasted buttered bun".

            Now click "Ingredients". The last item in the ingredients is "Butter oil", which contains a host of processed ingredients.

            I imagine that once upon a time before Chick-fil-a went national and used all sorts of processed artificial ingredients to streamline and make production consistent, they were probably a local restaurant chain spreading read butter on their buns.

            Now it seems they can safely go either way, depending on how you look at it (after all, "butter oil" isn't really butter... or is it?

            )

            Also, please note that people with allergies are allergic to the protein, not the fat... so barring any cross-contamination issues, those with soy or peanut allergies can safely consume the oil.

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster

              I disagree with your statement about allergies. I've witnessed an allergic reaction to peanut oil myself and it's not pretty. I don't think I'd risk taking the chance since peanut allergies can be deadly.

              1. re: RobynS

                The danger is not in the oil itself but in the danger of cross-contamination of protiens that have tainted the oil. More often than not, particularly in processed foods, there are other allergins like soy protein present, which the person may also be allergic to.

                http://www.foodallergyinitiative.org/...

                "Peanut allergy is one of the most common, serious and potentially fatal food allergies. It is an immune response (involving the IgE antibodies) to peanut PROTEIN..."

                The same holds true for soy... people are allergic to the protein, not the oil:

                http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Allergie...

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  But you're talking about a big risk thinking there may not be cross contamination. My grandmother was allergic to peanuts. Didn't know ahead of time that some chicken tenders were fried in peanut OIL but soon after was experiencing a reaction. So whether the oil wasn't pure and had some residual proteins I don't know but being I don't have control over how it's been treated I wouldn't risk eating at a place counting on no cross contamination.

                  1. re: RobynS

                    I don't dispute what you saw. All I'm doing is pointing out the factual error that oil is the culprit. It's not-- cross contamination is.

                    Highly allergic people take a risk *any* time they go out to eat, regardless of whether there's peanut oil present or not.

                    Mr Taster

        2. re: starbucksbrew

          I've heard of Chick-fil-A but never been to one (not even sure how to say it). There are a few in Northern OC, CA, but my commute is not in that direction. I just noticed a commercial for McD's stating that they're featuring a chicken biscuit on their breakfast menu. It looks like just a piece of fried chicken on a biscuit...... period. Not saying that's all Chick-fil-A's is, but McD's is probably copying something like it.

          I've traveled a bit in the South and have had lots of fried chicken and biscuits and usually there's gravy involved somewhere. What's the story on a 'chicken biscuit'?? What should it be like? and, just in case anyone has been close enough to observe, is the McD's version worth a try? I'm always on the lookout for a quick eat-in-the-car breakfast idea.

          1. re: Midlife

            Lots of local southern biscuit places serve a chicken biscuit that is basically only chicken on a biscuit. It sounds dry, but it works because there's usually tons of butter and crispy fried-ness going on.

            I had the good fortune of living in the South for most of my life, so I never ate biscuits at a McDonald's. But give it a shot. The concept, at least, is good.

              1. re: Midlife

                McD's "Southern-style Chicken Sandwich) or ripped off version of the Chick-fil-A sandwich. A good substitute, especially in NYC, where there is only one Chick-fil-A which is on NYU's campus.

                1. re: Midlife

                  McD has 2 new Southern-inspired chicken sandwiches - the chicken biscuit is a breakfast item. The Chick-fil-A copycat sandwich has a few pickle slices, on a bun spritzed with "buttery spray", which I assume is one of those I-sure-do-believe-it's-not-butter compunds.

              2. re: ccbweb

                All I can add to ccbweb's overview is that I'm also a big fan of the coleslaw, a sweet creamy confetti style with a dash of horseradish.

                1. re: ccbweb

                  what's the deal with them being closed on sunday? is it a religious thing?

                  Also, how do you pronounce it? Is it like "chick filet"?

                  1. re: charlesbois

                    My previous post was deleted so I will rephrase.

                    Yes, they are very religious. See the Forbes article at: http://www.forbes.com/leadership/forb...

                    1. re: charlesbois

                      it's pronounced as you see it, literally...
                      Chick-fil-A
                      Although I do know quite a few people call it chic-a-fil

                  2. I think a lot of fast food is part growing up with it and part memory.

                    I had a Chick-Fil-A for the first time last year. It was okay but didn't think it was special and wouldn't go out of my way to get one. That said, I hear the same about In 'n Out burgers and Jack in the Box tacos. Even then In 'n Out isn't as good as I remember as a kid.

                    Any way, maybe Southerns know something I don't or it's prepared differently from in SoCal (where I had one).

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ML8000

                      Sure there's a growin-up-with-it factor, just like with anything else anybody grew up with. I'm guilty of making a big deal out of Chik Fil A in the other thread, although that post may have been removed (I can't keep track...I have so many of those :) )

                      It isn't rocket science or gourmet cuisine, just a fast food chain joint that sells chicken sandwiches that many customers prefer to the alternatives (McD's, BK et al). Their waffle fries are also popular.

                      And they do get noticed for being closed on Sundays--even if a religious reason is behind this it is most notable for a company in this genre of business to not force their employees to work on Sundays. Combine this with loyalty to businesses with a regional origin and that gives ChikFilA intangible brownie points with customers from the South.

                      1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                        Not to veer too far from the focus on food, but Chick Fil A also has a pretty good retention/longevity rate with its employees, which is rare for most fast food places. They're known for being family friendly, esp. with the no Sundays thing, and I know that they used to (maybe still do) offer tuition reimbursement as an employee perk.

                        Now back to the food part...I loooooooove me some Chick Fil A. It's just about the only fast food option I'll eat, and every once in a while I just get a craving for one. I also love the fact that they have fruit salad as a side, and it's actually *good* fruit salad, not mush.

                    2. The CFA fried chicken sandwich is a bit hard to explain to anyone who hasn't had one. The bun holds up well against the chicken (doesn't fall apart). The pickles are sliced very thin and adds a great sour/salty flavor against the sandwich's ever-so-slightly sweet flavor. The sweetness is almost undetectable it's so slight. I don't know if it's the bun or the chicken that is sweetened, but either way, the classic sandwich is wonderful. The chicken breast is so tender, not fatty at all. It's prepared skin-off with a blend of spices that just works. It's not a super-crunchy batter like the McDonald's premium or even as crispy as Wendy's chicken sandwich. You really just have to try it see for yourself.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sheilal

                        That's a good description - now I am craving the CFA chicken sandwich, some of those waffle fries, and a lemonade. They have the best lemonade of any chain restaurant. My husband's criticism is that they are a little pricy for big eaters - DH needs two chicken sandwiches to fill up, and that'll be about $9. But that's just his complaint.

                        1. re: sheilal

                          I always ask for extra pickles! To me, they make the sandwich.

                        2. Call me a detractor. Non-food related issues aside, I just don't think it's a very good sandwich. The bread is too doughy and tastes off to me. The chicken filet has a nice black pepper kick, but the roll just ruins it for me. I've tried the breakfast chicken biscuits too, and felt the same way.

                          I would eat there if there wasn't any other choice, but that's about it.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: JonParker

                            I agree with the roll ruining it, for me it makes it even more of a grease-fest. I do like their sauces however.

                            1. re: TampaAurora

                              The wheat bun is a bit better - not as doughy and a little bit more flavor. You have to pay extra for it, which is the kicker. I pass by a CFA on the way home from work, and once in a blue moon stop for a sandwich and a lemonade.

                          2. i'm more partial to the nuggets, which seem to get those caramelized crispy bits of the batter at the edges far more frequently than the sandwich patties.

                            and yes, i am a philistine, and i dip them in ketchup.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: beelzebozo

                              They definitely still butter the buns, but you can ask for it without butter if you'll feel better about it.

                              They have incredible lemonade and I like to get an "Arnold Palmer" - half lemonade, half sweet tea.

                              Personally, I'm a bigger fan of their nuggets than their sandwich. Oh - and their chicken breakfast biscuit is the bomb!

                            2. Right now McD's is offering a Chick-Fil-A ripoff sandwhich.

                              It's a fried breast on a buttered bun with pickles.

                              And on Thursday, it was free.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Jennalynn

                                Chick-Fil-A has wonderful milk shakes! They also seem to be cleaner than most fast food places and I like the flower vases on the tables. The employees are also trained to say "My pleasure" when thanked. You can also get a nice fruit cup instead of fries with the combo meals. It just seems to be a cut above the other fast food places in this area.

                              2. Gotta mention that they have party trays that are really reasonably priced. You do not need to pre-order way in advance. They can have one made up for you in a very reasonable amount of time. Tons of nuggets or strips. They will give you a variety of dipping sauces as well. Darn! it's Sunday. Guess I will need to wait till tomorrow to get my CFA fix.

                                1. I worked at Chick-Fil-A all through high school. I can honestly say that after having worked in the kitchen of a wide range of dining establishments, that Chick-Fil-A is the only one I would still eat at without hesitation, DEFINITELY of any fast food place. Maybe it was just the store I worked at, but it was clean, fresh, and the food was well prepared for what it is. Their lemonade is the best because someone low on the food chain (like 15-year-old me) would squeeze hundreds of lemons daily and make it fresh. The chicken tasted like real chicken because it is...I hand-breaded seemingly a ton of whole breast fillets each day (except Sunday).

                                  As to why they are closed on Sunday...their mission statement used to include among the corporate objectives "to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A." I believe it has since been amended (chopped) to "To be the best quick service restaurant" or something like that. But the former still drives many of the corporate policies, including being closed on Sunday.

                                  I am really bothered by the fact that the new McD's sandwich is being compared to Chick-Fil-A's offering. Its not even in the same league. Honestly.

                                  The fact that Chick-Fil-A continues to thrive in this age of $1 value menus and the like is, to me, a testament to their quality. They serve real food which costs real money to make, and as far as I know that have not tried to cut corners to cut prices.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Lowbar

                                    Sweet tea! You can buy it by the jug and enjoy it at home, too.

                                    1. re: hippiechickinsing

                                      I am so glad someone else mentioned the sweet tea! It is awesome sweet tea. We too buy it by the jug sometimes (especially when going to the beach in NC and don't feel like making our own).

                                      It is hard to describe why their chicken sandwich is so good, but they do tend to be juicy on the inside crisp on the out with good flavoring. I like the waffle fries. Overall it is one of my few fast food places that I will eat at. And I went to law school at Catholic and we had one there (of course see their mission statement above) which was just awesome as there wasn't much around.

                                      Anyway it really is the gold standard for chicken sandwiches in my opinion, and if you like southern sweet tea it is a great place to get it. And they do tend to be really clean inside plus they give out a lot of free coupons. Oh man now I want it... will have to go tomorrow.

                                  2. I LOVE Chick-Fil-A. I'm also from the northeast, and it is upsetting to me that we do not have one of these establishments anywhere up here!!!! I visit Chick-Fil-A just about everytime I make it to the DC area. I'm personally a bigger fan of the nuggests than the sandwich, but the sandwich is still good too. I have never been to a cleaner, more polite, fast food chain than Chick-Fil-A. The only negative is the being closed on Sunday thing, but I respect their religious beliefs.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: lollie424

                                      That about sums it up! Couldn't have said it better myself! I live in the northeast myself and wish they'd expand up this way.

                                      1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                        Wish granted! They are in Burlington, MA, at the Burlington Mall; Peabody, MA, at the North Shore Mall; and Nashua, NH, at the Pheasant Lane Mall.

                                        1. re: greygarious

                                          That's right...I guess I should have remembered the OP!

                                          I suppose I meant "expand more" up this way...to locations I frequent more. I don't visit points north of Boston as often as I'd like. Nice to know that it's there though.

                                    2. You all have to try the carrot & raisin salad. It's more of a dessert than a salad, but wow, it's tasty.

                                      I always go for the grilled chicken with lettuce & tomato on a wheat bun (usually I prefer fried chicken, but not here for some reason) with lemonade. Oh and you have to get the Smokey Honey Mustard BBQ sauce - terrible for you but really delicious.

                                      Overall, though, besides the fact that they serve *real* chicken (not pressed and formed), my favorite thing about Chick Fil A is the extremely kind and helpful employees.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: sweetbasil

                                        Just went home to visit my folks and was sooo disappointed to discover that Chick-Fil-A has changed their chicken salad sandwich! They now use a drier wheat bread with lettuce and a thin layer of actual chicken salad. My Mother and I were both sad at the change. That was my favorite part of the menu (beyond the sweet tea!)

                                        1. re: SouthernFoodie08

                                          Finally tried it in the states after reading all about it here. Not sure what all the fuss was about. i had the nuggets and the lemonade. they were ok but definitely not my first choice for fast food.

                                          1. re: caitlink

                                            I enjoy the taste of the chicken and waffle fries and believe that the use of peanut oil is the reason, and also approve of the fact that they give their employees Sundays off.

                                            1. re: caitlink

                                              You got to go for the first time and got the nuggets instead of the sandwich? That's unfortunate. Also a shame you didn't like them so much.

                                        2. The fact that CFA does no tv or radio advertising ( just cute billboards) and is always crowded should clue you in a little as to how good the food and service are. If you have small children you are probably appalled at how saturated Saturday morning cartoons are with McDonald's commercials. The money saved on needless advertising goes to their many philanthropic contributions. The food sells itself.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: shecrab

                                            CFA definitely has TV and radio ads, at least in my market. Based on the quality of the TV spots, I doubt they're local only.. That said, they do not advertise anywhere near the level of McD's or Burger King.

                                            1. re: mpjmph

                                              Yeah, they definitely have them in my market, too. They're definitely national spots. Generally, they feature cows telling the audience to "eat more chikin."

                                              1. re: MonMauler

                                                Never seen one in Boston (and we've gotten Sonic ads for years, and they only reached New England in the past 12 months), so although they may make ads for use in many markets, they do not show them nationally.

                                                1. re: L2k

                                                  I have seen the Chik-fil-A ads in Boston.....can't remember which TV channel, but it definitely had the cows with the signs saying eat more chikin...very cute.

                                                  It may have been on a nationally broadcast sporting event , but I really can't remember, it was about a year ago

                                                  1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                    I'm thinking maybe the bowl game, as mentioned by Cathy, below.

                                              2. re: mpjmph

                                                I only see the ads (in Southern California) during College Bowl season. From November to January. There is a Chick Fil A Bowl game (SEC vs ACC).

                                                I definitely haven't seen any lately.