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One of San Diego’s Best Chefs Expands His Fried Chicken Empire to Orange County

Richard Blais’s Costa Mesa outlet of The Crack Shack opens in the fall

Crack Shack sandwiches wrapped in paper and shown side by side.
The Crack Shack, San Diego
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

San Diego star chef Richard Blais is heading north, with new updates out yesterday on the timeline for his first Orange County opening of The Crack Shack. The Costa Mesa restaurant will land on 17th Street near Newport Beach’s back bay neighborhood, and is ideally in line for an opening in October.

For the uninitiated, Blais’s Crack Shack concept is something of a phenomenon in and around San Diego. Proudly carrying the moniker of being a “chicken and eggs” place, the restaurant sources humanely-raised chicken for a menu that includes fried chicken sandwiches, plates, salads, and sides, with a few other delicious goodies thrown around as well.

According to the OC Register, the upcoming Costa Mesa outlet — which was first announced by the LA Times last year — will occupy some 5,500 square feet of indoor-outdoor space, with the same fast casual format and corrugated steel decor from the other locations further south. Blais’s team tells Eater that they are actively scouting other spaces in and around Los Angeles as well, but there’s nothing confirmed just yet on that front.

Of course, there will be even stiffer fried chicken competition in LA than in similarly-saturated Orange County. Los Angeles has, just in the past year alone, become enamored with names like Howlin’ Ray’s, Sweet Chick on Fairfax, and Astro in Downtown — to say nothing of names like Gus’s World Famous, a chain with a Mid-City outlet and another in Burbank on the way. Fried chicken, it seems, is everywhere.

The Crack Shack Costa Mesa
196 E. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA