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A white and red building that houses Howlin’ Ray’s restaurant in Pasadena, California.
Howlin’ Ray’s Pasadena.
Wonho Frank Lee

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Howlin’ Ray’s Pasadena Is Already the Most Scorching-Hot Opening of the Year

The hot chicken stalwart debuts a huge second location with beer, wine, seating, and ample parking

Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Remember 2016, when Nashville-style hot chicken was still fairly hard to find in Los Angeles? Locals sampled the regional dish by way of an occasional pop-up by Hotville Chicken’s Kim Prince, and by visiting the Howlin’ Ray’s truck, which launched in 2015.

Fast-forward to 2022. Google “hot chicken in Los Angeles” and take inventory of the number of red dots splattered throughout the map. Hot chicken careers were made, while local chains plotted and continue down the path of rapid expansion. But it was Howlin’ Ray’s, which opened its Chinatown brick-and-mortar in 2016, that kept everyone’s attention and loyalty, even earning the blessing of the Prince family in Nashville (the originators of the dish). Long lines and a cult-like following have been hallmarks of the original Chinatown shop. And, as of today, Howlin’ Ray’s unveils a massive new space on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena.

Howlin’ Ray’s Pasadena has the potential to reshape this south side of Arroyo Parkway. Though blocks of homes are slightly east of the mostly industrial street, Burt Bakman’s Slab will be Howlin’ Ray’s neighbor and will share the same parking lot. Shake Shack and local breakfast burrito favorite Lucky Boy’s are just up the street, as well.

A red tray of hot chicken and Miller High Life in a brown paper bag at Howlin’ Ray’s in Pasadena.
A platter of hot chicken and Miller High Life in a brown paper bag.
A full dining room with open kitchen at Howlin’ Ray’s in Pasadena, California.
A view of the dining room.

Business partners and spouses Amanda Chapman and Johnny Ray Zone have been working on the new restaurant since early 2021. The biggest shift at the new space is the introduction of in-house dining. Howlin’ Pasadena has a lot of what Howlin’ Chinatown doesn’t: ample seating, beer and wine, a massive kitchen, industrial waffle irons, free parking, restrooms, and a sidewalk that can handle overflow far better than the original six-year-old brick-and-mortar.

The parking lot will make visiting a breeze. Upon entry, diners are greeted with a fridge with Miller High Life bottles in brown paper bags and a cashier who can easily pour the rosé and white wines offered on tap. Same goes for the Beachwood Brewing’s Hef Leppard, Chronic’s Amber Ale, Blind Pig, and Little Bo Pils beers. Chapman collaborated with Alexis Readinger from Preen Inc. design and touches can be seen throughout the store, including the beautiful bathroom tiles and 3D printing.

The menu remains the same, but staff will have more kitchen space to quickly produce Howlin’ Ray’s beloved hot chicken sandwiches; tenders; and quarter, half, and whole birds. Ray Zone anticipates in the coming months that they’ll offer weekend waffles, with plans for his director of operations and South LA local Julian Sanchez to produce rotating specials such as tomahawk steaks, succotash, seared scallops, shrimp and grits, and Sanchez’s family recipe for banana pudding. Check the restaurant’s Instagram to see what’s coming. Ray Zone says, “We want to do this one step at a time.”

Howlin’ Ray’s Pasadena is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday for dine-in and takeout only. Howlin’ Ray’s Chinatown operates daily from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. for Postmates pick-up and delivery.

A close-up shot of hot chicken on with pickles on a piece of white bread at Howlin’ Ray’s.
A close-up of the hot chicken.
A pice of hot chicken on a slice of white bread at Howlin’ Ray’s.
Howlin’ Ray’s hot chicken.
An entry with stairs and a mural at Howlin’ Ray’s in Pasadena, California.
The restaurant’s entryway.
An entry way with a cashier station at Howlin’ Ray’s Pasadena, California.
Cashier area.
A massive counter area overlooking an open kitchen at Howlin’ Ray’s in Pasadena, California.
The order/pick-up area and open kitchen.
A series of booths for seating at Howlin’ Ray’s Pasadena.
Indoor seating.
Tables and chairs in a dining room at Howlin’ Ray’s Pasadena.
Additional seating.
Pink and white taps for wine and beer at Howlin’ Ray’s in Pasadena, California.
Wines and beers on tap.
A cashier area with a beer and wine dispensary/tap at Howlin’ Ray’s Pasadena.
Howlin’ cashier and tap.
A covered patio with benches and chairs at Howlin’ Ray’s restaurant in Pasadena, California.
Seating on the covered patio.
Miller High Life beer in paper bags at Howlin’ Ray’s in Pasadena, California.
Miller High Life in paper bags.
A front view of Howlin’ Ray’s restaurant in Pasadena, California.
A full view of the restaurant.
An exterior view of Howlin’ Ray’s Pasadena.
Side view.

Howlin' Ray's Pasadena

800 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105 Visit Website
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