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Dave’s Hot Chicken
Dave’s Hot Chicken, East Hollywood
Farley Elliott

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East Hollywood's New Late-Night Hot Chicken Stand Might Blow Your Mind

Dave's Hot Chicken is here to feed LA's growing love for the spicy bird

It’s almost refreshing, in this age of Instagram street food accounts, to find folks doing it the old school way: Pull up, open a table, maybe drop a small sign letting folks know what you’ve got for the night, and get down to business. Cash only, under the lights, in a parking lot. That’s how Dave’s Hot Chicken does it, and you’re really going to want to see for yourself.

Forget gaudy #foodporn shots of in-the-know smoked meats or platters of overloaded fries. Dave’s does one thing: Nashville style hot chicken, the current trend king taking over America. If you haven’t already heard just how popular the stuff has become here in Los Angeles, ask anyone who’s waited in a Howlin’ Ray’s line on a Sunday.

At Dave’s, things are pared down to the barest essentials. There’s the sleeve of dentist-commercial-bright white bread, the proprietary blend of powdery coating for the breaded bird, some kale coleslaw (this is still Los Angeles, folks), a couple of fryers, and a container full of sweet tea. Oh, and they have fries, both curly and straight. But come on, everybody loves curly fries.

Farley Elliott

The whole package looks like this: Two chicken tenders, done to your choice of two currently available heat levels, Mild or Hot. Neither is particularly fire-inducing, though with the right bite the hot side could get you feeling like you’ve landed somewhere in the middle at a place like Hotville Chicken. You can get them both at one heat level or mix and match as needed, but regardless your finished bird is tucked into its own little nestled slice of bread, like a modern Southern taco, done right on the street like always. Add the fries and the slaw and some tea and a seat (if you can find one) and you’re in business.

If the hot chicken hordes have made it this far, then let it be said: Yes, Dave’s Hot Chicken is not going bone-in bird right now. They may in the future, maybe not. They don’t do wings, or any of the other stuff you might associate with a ‘truer’ Nashville-style hot chicken experience, and that’s by design. This is a small operation, less than a week old, operating under cover of night in a Thai Town parking lot. The guys running the show — Arman Oganesyan, Tommy Rubenyan, and the namesake David Kopushyan — collectively have some kitchen experience at places like Elf Cafe and elsewhere, but with two non-commercial fryers the load that whole birds would put on the process is just too much.

Also chicken tenders are delicious on their own, and made even more so by a heavy handed heat approach from a late night cash-only stand. This is street food-meets-trend food, reworked to fit the needs of the sidewalk. You really do just stand up, grab your folded white bread and hot chicken tender like a taco, and go to town. It’s almost reflexive movement, and perfectly suited for the underground needs of Dave’s Hot Chicken.

Right now, Dave’s Hot Chicken is a mere five or six days old. They’re already running up some follows on social media and have been pressing the Yelp angle hard, but it’s important to remember when you go see them (and you’re going to want to see them) to be patient. Just like another East Hollywood newcomer to the scene, Burgers Never Say Die, there are kinks to work out and flows to manage, but with a little luck and enough hot chicken, the Dave’s team says they want to learn their way into a food truck or, hopefully, brick and mortar. In the meantime, it’s all about the streets.

So where can you find the crew slinging their $10 plates? Right in Thai Town, on Hollywood Boulevard steps from Tabula Rasa and the new Friends & Family. They aren’t trying to hide behind an Instagram account either: Do it like you always have, just follow the string lights and smells any night between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. And if you aren’t sure what to order, look to the tiny sign advertising just one thing: Nashville-style hot chicken tenders, curly fries, and glory.

Dave’s Hot Chicken
5115 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

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