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Lock and drop it: Popeyes perspective - PHOTOS

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Two full weeks have elapsed since Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen opened its doors on Elmwood Avenue in North Buffalo, and maneuvering into the fast-food Southern fried chicken restaurant is still no easy task.

A craze so extreme that it necessitated police to direct traffic in and out of the chain restaurant for a few days after opening, Popeyes hasn’t lost much steam—just read the tweets from The Buffalo News food editor Andrew Galarneau’s experience yesterday.

Paying a visit to Popeyes with Roommate Tom on Dec. 22, I quickly gathered why some consider the New Orleans-based chain a cult sensation while others bristle at what they deem to be an undeserved spectacle.

Let’s bound into a list of the good and the bad points from my visit, and hopefully it lends a little guidance for others.

The ORDER:

**Eight-piece family-style spicy fried chicken (bone-in, not boneless, pictured in header) with four biscuits and a side of red beans and rice ($16.99), and an additional side of Cajun fries ($1.99).

The SCENE:

**We opted against the drive-thru approach to Popeyes—not that there’s anything wrong with waiting for an extended period in your car (over/under on times “Timber” is played during your wait: 12)—but the full experience is inside the 37-foot by 83-foot restaurant, a “Popeyes on steroids” according to Vince Ricotta, the director of business development at Concept Construction Corporation, hired as the site’s general contractor.

Although two more franchised locations are expected soon in Western New York, the largest Popeyes location in the northeast resides on Elmwood Avenue.

A line—beginning in the vestibule inches inside the front door—snaked its way around the restaurant, as salty wafts of fried chicken blended with the sounds of murmuring customers, some less-than-daintily gnawing on large pieces while others fidgeted impatiently.

We counted 70 customers inside the restaurant with 80-90 percent waiting in line. Forty-five minutes stood between our entrance into the restaurant and receiving our food at the counter.

The GOOD:

1) The chicken: The eight-piece fried chicken seemed like the safe route—I could hear other customers in line raving about it—and it didn’t disappoint.

The concern with fast-food fried chicken is being served a disconcerting amount of breading and minimal chicken, and Popeyes didn’t have that problem.

Beneath the crunchy layer of breading lay surprisingly tender and easy-to-eat chicken. Nothing fancy—just tasty poultry.

2) The biscuits: It’s unfair to compare Popeyes’ biscuits to Red Lobster’s cheddar garlic delicacies because the latter has so many additional elements, but these two are truly the Murderer’s Row of fast-food bread products.

Very buttery, not too crumbly and oddly satisfying, the biscuits are worth snacking on. If there’s one biscuit left, expect a brief tussle over dibs.

3) The red beans and rice: A Louisiana staple, the Popeyes side is far from bland. Completed by a pleasant but not overbearing zing of spice, I’d gladly mosey up Elmwood for red beans and rice and a bunch of biscuits.

4) The flair: You can’t fault Popeyes for failing to stand out—the orange building is complemented by red awnings and trim. You’re clearly not paying attention if you obliviously drive by Popeyes (or maybe your eyes are just safely on the road? Who am I to judge?). 

The BAD:

1) Salt and MSG: Okay, you’re not going to choose Popeyes as a boon for your diet, but be prepared to meet a food coma—and if you have any salt or MSG-related sensitivities, be wary. One chicken breast accounts for roughly 90 percent of your recommended daily salt intake (1300/1500 mg).

Literally every chicken menu item—except the chicken breakfast biscuit—contains MSG, the devilishly savory but absurdly unhealthy and unnatural salt.

2) Not for the impatient: You may recall that fistfights broke out in line on opening day—which is A) utterly ridiculous and B) kind of funny given the circumstances (YOU’RE STANDING IN LINE AT A FAST-FOOD RESTAURANT)—but unless you hit a remarkably fortunate non-peak time, you’ll wait for at least a half hour in the drive thru or inside.

Plus, it’s a little tough to find the beginning of the line because it’s far from straight. Please leave your Black Friday mentality at home, Buffalo.

It’s okay to let the commotion die down before you explore the fried chicken wonderland.

3) Tainting the Buffalo wing: Everything about this article makes me upset: the capitalization error on “buffalo wing”—buffaloes don’t have wings, guys—and the fact that Popeyes is trying to “‘out buffalo’ the buffalo wing” with its Bayou Buffalo Wicked Chicken.

No one comes into Buffalo and does that. Outlandish! Know your place, Popeyes.

(Worth noting: The title of this blog post refers to the once popular hip-hop anthem by Huey, “Pop, Lock & Drop It.” It’s no indictment of the chain’s quality whatsoever. I’m just trying to be clever here.)

TAGGED: chains, elmwood avenue, fried chicken, north buffalo, photos, popeyes, popeyes louisiana chicken, restaurants

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