EVERETT — The name spells out what customers are in for when they walk through the door into That Chicken Place.
And it absolutely delivers on that expectation.
It’s a chicken-forward eatery, a spot for fried chicken, chicken on a stick, sauced-up wings, strips and chicken sandwiches.
There are non-fowl choices such as meatballs, sliders, sausage-stuffed mushrooms and a classic cheeseburger. But hens rule the roost here.
The name, owner-operator Brandy Wahlstrom said, came from the way people refer to a restaurant if they can’t remember its name, such as “that burger place” or “that sushi place.”
The business, which opened Jan. 2, was borne from a need to make her own way. She’s worked food service most of her life, starting at Mr. Bill’s in her teenage years. Many of the menu items are things she makes at home.
Opening the restaurant also fulfilled a desire to create a new spot where her two hockey-playing sons and their ilk could get a bite.
“Because they’re on different teams, we were here seven days a week,” said Wahlstrom, of Marysville, about being in downtown Everett.
Located on Hewitt Avenue across the street from Angel of the Winds Arena, the space is a bit small for what has already seen busy weekday lunch and weekend crowds. There are a few booths, a wall bar with stools for nine, and a couple of standing tables. When it’s busy, it can be a tight fit. People hoping to avert crowds can call in their order for takeout.
A restaurant with chicken in the name and a hen’s silhouette on the logo deserves to be measured by its namesake. I brought along my wingman, Trevor Lane, to try out the newly opened joint. He’s a law school student from Seattle who lately eats wings three or four times a week.
We started with the buffalo and spicy peanut wings. Each $8.50 order comes with six wings, a combination of flats and drumettes (the part that looks like a tiny version of what may be known as a drumstick or leg). No wing tips here, which can be an issue for some wing nuts but was of little concern for us.
The buffalo wings were great, perhaps my favorite yet. Usually I avoid spicy foods (the mouth sensation is not one I enjoy). These were more mellow, and had a balance between the rich, buttery flavor and spiciness that beckoned me to eat more than my customary one-and-done. Trevor enjoyed them for nailing the basics: crispy exterior, juicy interior and spiciness.
“There’s nothing fancy or novel about the wings,” he said. “If you’re craving wings and all the connotation of rolling up your sleeves and having some wings, this is the place.”
Anyone looking for a wing with more punch likely won’t wait long. Wahlstrom said she is perfecting a spicy habanero sauce.
Spicy peanut was more peanut than spicy, which was fine by me. We ended up splitting the basket. Don’t worry about messy fingers; there are paper towel rolls aplenty.
The fried chicken was exceptional. The bite of crunchy, perfectly fried breading with a nice savoriness to it was matched by the shockingly juicy meat beneath it. Both of us stopped after our first bite to acknowledge how good it was. Trevor said they were “lights out.”
“That is special,” he said. “I told my mom to go the next day. I don’t keep track of it, but it may be the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.”
The tender meat stems from the buttermilk soak, Wahlstrom said. She wouldn’t share what went into the breading mixture.
The only thing that kept us from queuing up another order of the crispy fried chicken was the wings before us and those to come.
With one buffalo order for sure on tap, I opted for the Korean barbecue wings to try a different flavor. They landed with me as a sweet and tangy choice, but were too sweet for Trevor, who retreated back to his buffalo base.
There are plenty of bars, diners and pubs that do fried chicken and wings. But there’s only one That Chicken Place.
Ben Watanabe: email@example.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.
If you go
That Chicken Place, at 1907 Hewitt Ave., Suite A, Everett, is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Call 425-0349-0253 or go to www.tinyurl.com/herald-chicken for more information.
Plenty of street parking during times and days when the arena isn’t hosting something. Otherwise, try parking north of it along Lombard Avenue, Oakes Avenue or California Street. Expect it to be packed when there’s a Silvertips game or something else happening at Angel of the Winds Arena.