Can we have a serious discussion about fried chicken? Let’s get into this, because I’ve got some fried chicken issues that need to be aired.
First, it’s one of my favorite foods. Isn’t it one of yours? It’s awesome. We love it. But it’s tricky. It’s not like pizza (or sex, depending on your preferred cliché). When it’s bad, it’s not still pretty good. Have you ever had McDonald’s breakfast chicken biscuit? Have you ever spit McDonald’s breakfast chicken biscuit all over your car?
Whether you’re getting it from a drive-through window or an upscale, comfort-food-focused eatery, fried chicken is too inconsistent. And by the way, why do we celebrate this dish so much when some fancy restaurant serves it, yet ignore the homey neighborhood joint doing the same food? Is the beautiful golden poultry at brand-new Yardbird more essential than the stuff at nearly 10-year-old M&M Soul Food? (Not to knock fancy chicken ... I just went back to Blue Ribbon to bask in the matzoh meal-and-paprika-coated glory. So delicious.)
When I want fried chicken, I want perfect fried chicken. That appears to be the objective at PDQ, the weeks-old North Las Vegas outlet of a chain started by some corporate restaurant pros in Tampa, Florida, in 2011. PDQ spread across the South and now we have it, and this summer we’ll get another one on West Sahara.
But don’t wait until then. Fresh, hand-breaded chicken tenders, lightly seasoned and well-balanced between juicy and crunchy, come in meal deals ($7.29-$9.29) or in sandwich form ($4.29) on spongy wheat or egg buns. Watch how fast you eat these chickens.
There’s more. The coleslaw has blueberries. There are seven dipping sauces, from Buffalo Bleu to Creamy Garlic. There’s a chocolate peanut butter milkshake ($3.49-$4.99). And you can get a Thanksgiving-inspired turkey breast sandwich with stuffing spices and cranberry, or better yet, a crispy turkey breast sandwich with thick pickle coins, firm tomato and crisp lettuce. It reminds me of the monstrous fried pork loin sandwiches of the great state of Iowa, only it’s probably much better for you.
Recently I spoke to Danny Meyer, the fine-dining restaurateur who just made hundreds of millions when his Shake Shack franchise went public, and one of the themes of our discussion was that fast food can be good food. PDQ certainly fits that model, and it’s clear these chicken people are spending a lot of time on the overall experience, too. The new Craig Road restaurant is big and fast and really, really clean, and the staff is exceptionally friendly. This is normal behavior for a new business in a new market, but it feels like this opening standard will continue.
Most importantly, it’s totally craveable food, made simple and convenient. When it comes to PDQ, I have no chicken grievances. Let this be the end of my fried chicken therapy session, at least for now.
PDQ 3737 W. Craig Road, 702-410-6747. Daily, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.