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Mar 20, 2013 07:07 PM

Source for good chickens? [SF, East Bay or Peninsula]

Saw this thread and was wondering if anyone had a reliable source for good chickens, either in the East Bay or Peninsula?

Getting ok chickens never used to be a problem, especially if you went for the free range ones. Lately, however, we have had a hard time finding anything good, ingredients wise. The chickens seem to (when cooked, of course) have a weird, mushy texture, and don't taste good at all. The Mary's chickens we have gotten have all been like this, and now that Mary's seem to be ubiquitous, we are having a hard time finding anything good. Seems crazy that it would be so tough to find something good in such a basic ingredient as chicken!

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  1. Since Fulton Valley closed its plant in Sonoma County and consolidated in the Central Valley, I hardly see them in markets any more. Shame, as they're also air-chilled and seemed fresher to me than Mary's.

    I was in Marina Foods in San Mateo recently to purchase a black silky chicken, available there fresh and not just frozen, and noticed that it also carries Vikon and Loong Kong chickens, which are free-range Chinese heritage birds.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      You can buy Fulton Valley at Magnanis in Berkeley. They sell them with head and feet on. I've found that a salt cure can completely transform a chicken's texture and flavor from indifferent to delectable.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Thank you! This is a great list of other chickens to look for. I was beginning to think this did not exist any more. Maybe it's just me, but lately it seems that good ingredients are getting harder and harder to find.

        1. re: cometraveler

          One question though - found a place where we may be able get Riverdog chickens. Says that feet and heads are left on, but my question is - is the inside of the chicken cleaned out or do you need to do some extra cleaning there too ? As you can tell, am not the most experienced chef, so just want to know what to expect. Thanks!

          1. re: cometraveler

            They're gutted, no extra cleaning. The feet and head are good for stock.

      2. I get fresh Vikon chickens at T&S market in Oakland Chinatown (323 9th St). I remember spending a lot more for a Soul Food Farm chicken, roasting it, and thinking it didn't taste remotely as good as the much cheaper Chinatown Vikon. They also have crazy cheap frozen duck legs (maybe $2.50/lb).

        3 Replies
        1. re: daveena

          I have a vague recollection of driving past a loading dock on 9th or 10th that had a bunch of Vikon chicken delivery trucks parked there. Maybe that's T & S? I thought it looked like a wholesale poultry mart.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            That's it. The shop itself is pretty small and easy to miss.

          2. re: daveena

            Just went on your recommendation. Frozen duck legs, now $4.50 a lb.--got a wonderful whole duck for something like $2.40 a pound--and the people behind the counter were really nice and helpful. Definitely going on my list as a keeper.

          3. These from the Berkeley Farmer's Market have been great lately, though you need to be willing to buy the whole bird (w/ head/feet)

   Hills Farm&id=10090

            3 Replies
            1. re: foodeye

              Riverdog chickens are really good but they are very large.

              1. re: wally

                Riverdog's our go-to place for chickens. Best eggs at the market, too, though those tend to run out early.

              2. re: foodeye

                We make special trips from SF to Berkeley just to get the Riverdog chickens. They're spectacular.

              3. I know u didn't ask about south bay. but you can try jidori chicken at Mitsuwa in San Jose.