Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Apr 16, 2012 08:29 PM

For quick take out fried ckn in Berkeley - TC or Popeyes?

Both are on San Pablo, but considering convenience and taste (never had TC's) - which would you go for?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
      1. re: rubadubgdub

        Yes, I saw that two seconds after I posted. Looks interesting.

      2. Since it's tax day and the post office is right there, I decided to do a comparison. I had a thigh and a leg at both places.

        TC: The striking thing here is that there doesn't seem to be much immediately available. There were only a few pieces of chicken under heat lamps. I don't know whether they'd have to cook a big order from scratch (also the fish and shrimp; there were none in the case). As it was, this chicken was acceptable, with a thin coating, possibly flour and not batter. It had a nice spicy bite, and wasn't particularly greasy, but the seasoning tasted, well, generic.

        Popeyes: I chose the spicy variety for comparison. It was markedly spicier than TCs, but the batter coating was thicker. I prefer less coating, myself. The chicken was much hotter, probably due to the higher turnaround, and was just a touch greasy. I preferred the seasoning here.

        So, I'd say it was a toss-up. I'd like to try the freshly-fried chicken at TCs sometime; this would be a better comparison. If you do need to hang around while they fry, you have to factor in the Berkeley parking meter fees, about an extra dollar or so. Popeye's has a parking lot. The bill at TC was $3.40, and since Popeye's has a Tuesday two-piece special, it was $1.40 there. I didn't compare other prices.

        8 Replies
        1. re: ernie in berkeley

          ernie, you're a rock star. That's one thing about Popeye's, it's got a lot of seasoning.

          Here's a long-ago discussion about Popeye's with a former manager that might be of interest.

          1. re: ernie in berkeley

            So good of you to eat in the name of public service. I've had plenty of Popeye's in my past but not recently. I did ask the person at TC's if they use MSG in their seasoning and they said no, so I did like that about their chicken. Often the heightened flavoring of chain food comes from additives that I don't really want to know about. My pieces also came from under the heat lamp, so I had my doubts, but they were really good (esp the breast that was perfectly cooked). I don't think they're aiming to be as fast as Popeye's (it took them 4 mins to cook my fries to order) but there's something to be said for that too.

            1. re: rubadubgdub

              Mine took much longer due to previous orders but damn that was a tasty juicy wing which unlike other fast food places actually had meat on it. The young lady also threw in an extra, fresh from the oven, biscuit.

            2. re: ernie in berkeley

              Thank you for the thorough report -- sounds as if you really can't go wrong with either -- except I'm pretty addicted to Popeye's rb&r!. I'll also do a side by side comparison next time I'm in Berkeley.
              How are those donuts?

              1. re: Sarah

                I do love donuts and fried chicken together (Dream Fluff on Ashby was my guilty pleasure until they stopped making chicken, why oh why). However, both times I was there in the afternoon and we know what happens to donuts as they age. Nonetheless, as I waffled about whether to get any donuts, the young woman who took my order threw in 3 donut holes for free (a treat, but not as fresh as they could be). FWIW rice & beans are a possible side at TC but I haven't had it.

              2. re: ernie in berkeley

                Speaking as one who lives 2 blocks from that Popeye's and has gone there way more than any other restaurant in the hood (including last week), I would say to try T.C.'s. Next time I get that fc jones, that's where I'm headed. I have finally tired of Popeye's after six years of overindulgence, although I like the crunch of their breading and the juicyness when it is fresh. To me it is somewhat over spiced/salted. Still like the shrimp poboy though and some years they have a good crawfish etouffee.

                1. re: ernie in berkeley

                  The Tuesday deal at Popeye's is very hard to beat.

                  1. re: ML8000

                    So true. The only day I order chicken is on Tuesdays! The mac and cheese is not bad either. I just heated some up last night with some nubbins of Piave and it was damn good.

                2. The Po' Boy at Popeyes is suprisingly good. Due to the batter, the shrimp can be a little hard to chew, but at $3.99(I believe), it's a steal. And yes, 4 pieces of chicken for $2.80 on Tuesdays.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: arktos

                    Why is the $0.99 Tuesday special $1.20 after tax (I am assuming) in SF? It's $1.08 in L.A. Is sales tax that high there?

                    1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                      Off the top of my head, tax is nine-something percent, but there is an additional service charge in SF for workers' health care.


                      1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                        They charge $1.29 in the Bay Area instead of .99¢, plus .10¢ for tax.

                        1. re: ML8000

                          It used to be 99 cents in Berkeley, but at $1.29 it's a bargain for a leg and thigh. It sounds like the price may be at the discretion of the individual operator. The sweet tea is good too.

                    2. THE QUESTION WAS ASKED BUT UNANSWERED!...What is TC's??? and if abbreviations are to be used then "P" should be used instead of "Popeyes".....then we can do a comparison of "P's" and "TC's"...!!

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: ChowFun_derek

                        TC's is the name that the business uses. It used to be just Rainbow Donuts.

                        What are their hours? They were closed last night when I went by at 9.

                        1. re: chocolatetartguy

                          Thanks, is it a fast food place like Popeyes? if not perhaps the comparison could be between "P's" and Churchills!? anyone compare the 2 of those?

                          1. re: ChowFun_derek

                            It's a non-chain fast food joint. It was originally compared to P (Popeye's) because both are on San Pablo Ave in Berkeley within 2.5 blocks of each other. Churches is a little further down San Pablo (near/past Gilman?) across from the McDonald's.

                            It was originally a doughnut shop and I guess they decided to use the fryers for other foods.

                            1. re: chocolatetartguy

                              and what's your take on church's? ive never had it before, but am always tempted whenever i bike by it.

                                1. re: majordanby

                                  Haven't been to the one I mentioned. In fact I don't ever remember having gone to Church's except one in Oakland in 1980.

                                  I was a KFC man and then Popeye's. Don't diss me but my favorite EB fried chicken is from the Hometown Buffet in Pinole. However, it isn't very good cold. They have a thick, crispy batter and the skin on top of the thigh comes off whole like a big potato chip. Have not tried a lot of the recommended local spots. I order other things at places like Dorsey's and Little Skillet.

                                  I just called TC's and they close at 8. The woman to whom I spoke barely spoke English which leads me to believe that the ownership is the same, the menu new.

                                  1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                    I can't speak to the ownership, but on both my visits the people behind the counter were predominantly English-speaking. The flavor of Church's is salty.

                                    1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                      My 86 y.o. Dad likes Hometown Buffet. It must be the depression era upbringing. Any way, agree the FC at Hometown Buffet is one of only consistently decent things there.

                                1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                  Ha! and here I was assuming "The Coronel's"...(and wondering why there was a discussion amoungst bay area chowhounds about chain fried chicken joints)