146 S. Regent St.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Mon–Sat: 11 a.m.–9 p.m. closed 3:30 p.m.–5 p.m.
Bringing a little Southern hospitality and charm to Salt Lake City is fried chicken sensation Pretty Bird. The menu has two options: a quarter breast of fried chicken on a plate or a fried-chicken sandwich. My obvious choice was the Fried Chicken Sandwich Combo—a pretty bird protected by a buttered bun, topped with purple coleslaw, pickles and PB (special Pretty Bird sauce) then accompanied with old-school crinkle french fries. One bite in, I begged the question, “Where has this been my whole life?”
The eatery is simple. The small space is suited well for its walk-up counter order and row of bar stools overlooking the food-prep area, with a view of Regent Street. Gorgeous-weathered days offer a nice outdoor-patio dine-in option, though it is suited well for takeout and/or catering an office lunch. With my meal served on a silver lunch tray, I can’t help feeling like I am back in junior high watching the white outfitted lunch crew at work. The setting is stark with crisp white lines, with a large neon sign expressing, “Pretty Bird, hot chicken,” which adds that nostalgic, hot-lunch-style feeling. It’s quaint, which means the space is small, though outside, there are picnic style tables and benches that allow for dining up close to the potted plants.
Let’s talk about the chicken. I don’t know Pretty Bird’s particular process in creating this scrumptious fried chicken, but it just as well could be a family secret straight outta Nashville. Freshly crisped chicken-breast quarters await to be picked and dusted with your level of heat—mild, medium, hot and “hot behind.” Spice sprinkled by shakers add the robust flavors and ginger tint to the protein. Top it off with pickles and cabbage, and a melt-in-your-mouth buttered bun, and you might have just defined delicious in the dictionary. The sandwich is a little messy, but not the kind of fall-apart-everywhere messy—and is 100 percent worth licking your fingers for. The ingredients complement by expressing the notes of moist, juicy chicken, with just enough sweet, salty and heated crunch. Pretty Bird swooned both my friend and me at first bite. This meal is definitely worth the calories. The melt-in-your-mouth chicken will have you licking your lips for one more taste of that special, heated flavor. The sandwich is extremely Instagram-able—just look for yourself on @prettybirdslc. Could this by why the establishment was named Pretty Bird, or is it solely a 1990s reference to the movie Dumb and Dumber? … “Pretty bird. Yeah, can you say pretty bird? Pretty bird. Yes, pretty bird …”
The simplicity of the menu pays homage to great Southern fried chicken, which is a staple in the Southeastern part of the United States. The eatery has surpassed the mark of greatness. The gentle spice of the mild and medium blends can be easily quenched by PBR or wine in a can. The all-American vibe complements the branding and style. It’s fast, easy, on-the-go dining, all while enjoying simple pleasures. It’s a stroke of genius, really. I wanted to try the rosé in a can, a house rosé with bubbles, however they were out.
Opting instead for the PBR, my friend and me are still overwhelmingly in cluck heaven and are easily convinced that Pretty Bird should be a weekly staple. I’m looking forward to returning soon and sorting out which wine in a can will be available this fall. Oh, and one more thing, their website suggests that they occasionally sell out, so if you have a late-night craving, you might be out of luck—oh, cluck!