Review: Popeyes Chicken Sandwich, Is it Worth the Hype?
Unless you've been living under a rock, the Popeyes chicken sandwich continues to be a media darling and has become one of the biggest social media buzz-generators this year. First, they introduced the sandwich... and everyone went nuts, saying it's the best chicken sandwich in the universe. Big hype. Then, they ran out of chicken. Oopsie. Big hype. Popeyes reintroduced the sandwich as a permanent menu item on Nov 3. Followed by... more big hype.
Is a breaded chicken sandwich really that awesome? Is it worth waiting in ridiculously long lines? I decided to find out by visiting the Billings King Avenue East location (down by Amend Park). I arrived at 12:50 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon. It's been four days since the sandwich returned to the menu, and I wasn't sure what to expect as far as long lines or availability or wait times. There were no problems at this location. The drive-thru line had about five cars and was moving quickly. Normally, I hit the drive-thru, but I wanted to get pictures and stuff, so I parked and went in to order. The line was short, maybe three or four people ahead of me and moved quickly.
The restaurant did have an overwhelming smell of cooking oil/hot grease. Not in a good way, like a donut shop. More like "maybe the grease needs cleaned?" or a hood vent isn't working properly, kind of way. After a few minutes, I didn't notice it as much, but when I got back to my car afterward, my coat definitely smelled like grease. Anywho... how 'bout that sandwich?
I debated between the spicy chicken or the regular chicken. I prefer spicy chicken sandwiches and that's what I usually get at Wendy's, but I decided today to go with the standard chicken. I feel that it's easy to bury an item with spicy seasoning in the breading, or with what appears to be a spicy mayo on the Popeyes Spicy Chicken, and maybe cover up some of the natural flavors. So, I went with the regular sandwich and made it a combo with small fries and a drink for $5.99.
First appearances, not bad. The bun was a little smooshed, but otherwise, it looked good. I was starving, so pretty much anything would have looked good to eat at this point. Popping off the bun revealed a couple of large pickle slices and a light layer of mayonnaise with a nicely breaded, fairly thick piece of chicken breast.
I've read recent stories about how the chicken patty is smaller than it was when it was first introduced two months ago. I didn't try it then, so I couldn't compare it to today's experience (Popeyes spokespeople state that it is the exact same sandwich). The patty was slightly larger than the bun and seemed properly proportioned. I quickly slapped it back together and took some bites.
My sandwich seemed freshly prepared and was the correct temperature (the side of fries, not so much). The breading is quite tasty. Light, yet really crunchy. Almost like a cornflake type batter/breading. It is different than Wendy's or McDonald's in a way that I can't really describe. The chicken itself was moist. I didn't notice any particular flavoring that really stood out, good or bad. Note to self: I should have gotten the spicy version.
In summary, the sandwich is as good, or better than Wendy's. Wendy's sandwich includes lettuce and tomato, Popeyes does not. I didn't miss those additional toppings on this sandwich and I appreciated that it wasn't slathered in a ton of mayo that seems common at Wendy's. The Popeyes chicken sandwich was much better than McDonald's crispy chicken. I'd even say it's better than the two different times I've tried Chik-fil-a. Don't even get me started on the Chik-fil-a super fans. It's just a chicken sandwich, people.