First Dish: Fryd Bird

Nikki BuchananOctober 6, 2021
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Photo by Nikki Buchanan

I’m a sucker for good fried chicken, so when I read about Fryd Bird, a new fast-casual in Mesa, getting rave reviews, I grabbed a friend and headed there for lunch. Modern and cheerful, one yolk-yellow wall displaying a huge rendering of an UN-fried, alive and kicking bird, the place had a small, steady line during the lunch hour. Lots of the customers appeared to be working guys, there for the comforting carbs they can work off in a couple of hours. Hypothetically.

The menu focuses on two-piece and three-piece chicken combos with sides, tenders, wings, and sandwiches, along with the occasional fun extra like chickatsu (didn’t explore that one but I can guess what it is). As we dithered over which chicken sandwich to order, the friendly young woman behind the counter recommended the first one, a winner, she said, for its garlic and Parmesan flavors.

She was right. All sandwiches come on buttery Texas toast, this one slathered with garlic aioli and stacked with plump, juicy fried chicken pieces, pickles and lettuce. It was messy but delicious, and we crushed it in minutes. I have never understood the Chick Fil A phenomenon (I ate there once about 20 years ago and never went back), but I’m here to tell you, Fryd Bird puts Chick Fil A to shame. And it is in this moment that it occurs to dimwitted me: this is really a fast-food joint that just happens to be better than all the national chains.

Photo by Nikki Buchanan

My buddy likes the crispy, craggy fried chicken better than I do. It’s a little greasy for me. Sides include decent slaw, loaded with carrots, red cabbage and corn, and mashed potatoes and gravy, the spuds’ super-soft consistency bringing KFC and instant mashed potatoes to mind. The best thing in this category? Rice, fragrant with cinnamon and other Middle Eastern spices. It’s lovely.

Niggling criticisms aside, for fast-food fried chicken, Fryd Bird is as good as it gets.

1038 W. Southern Ave., Ste. 1, Mesa, 602-296-7405


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