Oddly enough, my first post had to do entirely with places where the primary menu items are Hamburgers of some sort. Most of these places, at least the ones that survived into the 1980s, did offer some sort of a fish or chicken sandwich, and often some sort of chicken nuggets, but none of them are chicken or fish specialists. This is kind of odd because I have not had a hamburger in over nine years.
In 1987 or 1988 a blood test reveled that I had a naturally high uric acid level. This makes me highly susceptible to gout. I had my first gout attack in 1991. By 1995 they had gotten regular enough that I removed red meat almost completely from my diet. (Red meat, red wine and shellfish are some of the biggest dietary contributors to high uric acid, and I'm not terribly fond of either red wine or shellfish). Unfortunately, by 1998 my attacks had continued and I'm now taking medicine to control the uric acid.
So in this section I'll focus on some places that aren't hamburger places
In my early years fried chicken meant one of two things, my mom's oven fried chicken and buckets from KFC. I still fondly remember ads featuring "The Colonel," and was saddened when he died. I don't fondly remember the recent cartoon creation, although I believe that Harlan Sander's would have approved or at least understood. After all, The Colonel was mostly a character he invented to help him sell chicken. He was a real Kentucky Colonel, but so is my aunt.
I still enjoy KFC original recipe, and like some of their sandwiches and their wrap, but I've enjoyed other chicken more over the recent years.
In high school and college Church's was where to go to get fried chicken if you couldn't get to a KFC. Need I say more?
- Golden Fried Chicken
Golden Fried Chicken was a small chain in Albuquerque when I was in college. They were owned by the same people as the Frontier restaurant across Central from UNM. (I'll have to write about the Frontier later).
Since I left Albuquerque, Golden Fried Chicken has renamed itself Golden Pride Chicken. I don't know if their food is the same or not. In my last few years in college, Golden Fried chicken became one of my favorite place to get fried chicken. In part it was because they had a store adjacent to the UNM campus which was not too far out of my way if I had to head to the North Campus. But I really liked their fried chicken. It was juicy, with a crisp but not too crisp crust. They also used finely crushed ice in their Coke, which gave it a unique feel to drink. (Its possible that it was drinking Cokes from Golden Fried Chicken is part of why I rarely use a straw today). I've not eaten at one since 1989, or possibly a year or two later.
- Brown's Chicken
Brown's Chicken is a Chicago regional chain. In many ways their chicken reminds me of Golden Fried's chicken. It is juicy and crisp, and has a good flavor.
However, as a resident of Palatine in 1991, I will probably never be able to completely think about Brown's without remembering the murders that took place in the Palatine store that I had, prior to that, eaten at with some regularity.
- Other Places
Over the last few years, I've had quite a few meals at Boston Market. I like their chicken, and their sides; and have enjoyed some of their other entrees as well. I think that they are starting to recover, and hope that they stick around.
However, to me Boston Market is a poor substitute to my original favorite grilled chicken. Around 1985 or 1986 I discovered (and I'm going to slaughter the spelling now :-) El Pollo Assado. They, and the very similar El Pollo Loco, served marinated grilled chicken. But the secret was in the marinade. It added a special flavor to the chicken that Boston Market and Kenny Rogers never managed. El Pollo Assado started to go downhill when they lost the use of their name after loosing a lawsuit with the owners of El Pollo Loco, Denny's. They renamed themselves Assado's Mexican Café, but they were pretty much gone after that.
Holding no serious grudge, I've comforted myself with meals at El Pollo Loco a couple of times. The first time was in, believe it or not, Sapporo Japan. (This was my second business trip in 1991. My first trip a year or so before took me to Sacramento. While in Sacramento I drove up to the mountains and past the entrance to Squaw Valley. Then my second trip took me to Sapporo. Being a bit of an Olympics geek I realized that I'd been in or near the sights of the 1960 and the 1972 Winter Games. This was worrisome, since if the trend continued my next trip would be to the site of the 1984 Winter Games. I had no desire in the early 1990s to visit Sarajevo). The next time I was at an El Pollo Loco was in 1995 in Scottsdale. I was on an extended business trip -- I spent 4 months in Phoenix, from July through November, before returning to the Chicago area. I spotted the El Pollo Loco and went in for lunch. Unfortunately, I was a dollar or so short of cash. When I started to pull out my credit card, the cashier told me not to bother, she'd just ring it up with the Motorola discount. It was then I pulled out my Motorola badge to show her that I was a Motorola employee. I hadn't even thought about the fact that this particular El Pollo Loco was catty-corner to the large Motorola facilities in Scottsdale.