Pop art and street-style typography adorn walls encased by iron grating and some sprouting vegetation. Out on the sidewalk, people walk dogs and jog by beneath strings of naked bulbs marking what would otherwise be an anonymous chicken spot. The order-at-the-window situation and outdoor-only seating here give a sense of greasy spoon authenticity, but the place is hip and spotless. Even just waiting for our food to arrive, we knew Trap Fried Chicken was going to be a winner.
And wait we did. An order here could take 15 minutes or upwards of a half-hour, depending on the flow of business. A Disneyland-esque sign at the register gives an estimated wait time “from this point,” but, as they say, you can’t rush perfection. Given the truly beautiful — both culinary and visual — sandwiches presented to us, it was well worth the modest wait. If the public is willing to stand at Howlin’ Ray’s for an hour before even ordering, they can and should be able to do half that for the beauty that is Trap Fried Chicken.
The menu at Trap is simple: sliders (mild, hot or xxx hot), fries, grilled corn, mac and cheese. There is a secret menu of sorts, but we’ll get to that later. First order of business: sliders. Every variety. Size-wise, slider is an understatement. Content-wise, everything is an understatement. The mesmerizingly flaky, golden hunks of chicken hulking over the buns were so beautiful I thought I was looking at a high-def shot of cinematography a la “Chef’s Table.” It was visual perfection, and a taste showed no evidence to the contrary. A perfectly airy, crispy exterior yielded to juicy white meat full of unadulterated fatty chicken flavor. I feared upon first glance that the buns were a bit burnt, but they were toasted just right to stand up to the load of slaw, sauce, pickles and chicken. I could have gone for a few more pickles, but that’s just pickle-loving me.
Let it be known that it is the sauce, not the chicken itself, which determines the spice level of each sandwich. So, if you … chicken out … as it were, you can still enjoy your crispy, juicy meat with some meticulous scraping. This said, I’d recommend starting with a mild slider, regardless. A hint of spice and whisper of chili flavor still come through, and you can always ask for a little cup of the fiery stuff on the side. The deal is two sliders for $12, though, so feel free to go caliente for your second if you’re up for it. Trap has not fallen victim to spice fetishism and buzzwords like “ghost pepper” and “nine million Scovilles.” The heat is thoughtful and flavorful, peppery and roasty. Be warned, the heat does build with each mouthful, so trying a bite of your pal’s xxx hot isn’t enough to know whether or not you can take it. This is for the intersection of thrill-seekers and flavor hunters. To me, a bit of honey drizzled over a hot slider was perfection, but enjoy the spice at your own risk.
Alongside our sammies, we gave in to the temptation of fries and mac and cheese, two things which are pretty much impossible to get wrong and are always welcome comfort foods. Needless to say, they did not disappoint. Gluttonously goopy, cheese-drenched noodles topped with breadcrumbs were enjoyed both by the spoonful and shamelessly dolloped onto bites of slider. A hefty bucket of curly fries came seasoned, piping hot and ultra-crispy. Normally I’m the person poking around for the well-done fries to crunch on, but these were all equally delectable. When your only ingredients are potatoes and hot oil, consistency of texture is key. The perfection of the chicken implied the Trap kitchen was a hotbed of fryer perfectionists, but it was still nice to have that notion reinforced with such gusto.
Everything at Trap Fried Chicken was so good, I wanted only to put it all in my body at once. Luckily, there’s a way to do that. Steve’s Fries are a secret menu item which is essentially just the menu in its entirety in a fry basket: a layer of fries topped with mac, two hunks of that irresistible chicken and house sauce. I’d personally request some pickles to top it off and a little slaw on the side. Any way you take it, it beats animal style fries at the In-N-Out down the street by a long shot.
You can have your food on the patio of sorts — a fun environment full of artwork and fellow Trap lovers bouncing along to Cardi B over the PA — or take it to go in a brown paper bag charmingly decorated with your name in the Trap-style typography. The environment at the joint is enjoyable, but do not fear taking Trap to go; my brother and I found that the chicken retained its robust crunch even after mingling with slaw and sauce for an hour (the amount of time it took for us to overcome our immense fullness and stuff the leftovers into our faces).
Next time you’re considering the colonel, do better. You deserve it. Trap Fried Chicken is here for you. I hope and believe they will be for a long time. At just barely a month old, Trap is serving up perfection, and there’s nowhere to go but up.
Trap Fried Chicken
1600 E. Chevy Chase Drive, Glendale
No Alcohol/Major Cards