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Photos: This New Downtown Fried Chicken And Donuts Spot Is Open 24-Hours On Weekends
There's a new downtown destination that's ready to satisfy your cravings for fried chicken, chef-designed donuts and quality coffee round the clock on the weekends. Lord knows we've had moments where we craved all three at once.
Tucked into a cozy storefront along the rapidly developing Olympic Avenue in South Park, the recently-opened Birdies offers the wonderful sweet-savory pairing of crispy chicken and decadent donuts.
The shop is the inspired brainchild of chef/owner Jason Harley, who previously occupied the space with Mabel's, his celebrated fried chicken and waffle outfit. But after Harley found that the neighborhood wasn't quite ready for the pairing, he went back to the kitchen and has returned with some delicious donuts and, thankfully, has killer fried chicken that we suspect will be happily embraced, or rather, promptly devoured. And while late-night revelers can get their muchies-fix at all hours on Fridays and Saturdays at Birdies, the shop is also open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 5 p.m. on Sundays.
"It's morphed and changed into something special," chef Harley tells LAist about the transformation into Birdies. "The timing is much better and we've already seen the difference, it's like night and day."
Upon entering Birdies, you're immediately greeted by racks of freshly baked donuts in an array of tempting hues, including several rotating specials along with reliable mainstays. There's cake donuts like the excellently rich triple chocolate and blueberry lemon, as well as yeast-raised varieties like the candied maple bacon, the welcomely unexpected lemon thyme pistachio and the not-to-be-missed horchata twist with dulce de leche. All the donuts are hand-rolled and made from scratch using quality King Arthur flour, and go for around $3 a pop—they're definitely a hearty affair. And if you're not quite ready for the big time—or want to sample several varieties in one go—they offer several mini versions and donut holes for 75 cents and 50 cents, respectively. You can also pair your donut experience with a range of coffee options using Intelligentsia beans.
When it comes to his famed fried chicken, Chef Harley uses free-range, antibiotic-free and vegetarian-fed Mary's chickens. He batters it with King Arthur flour and uses a pressure cooker instead of a deep fryer to ensure a delicate and excellently crisp crust. Harley explains that the airy quality of both of Birdies' signature items to the King Arthur flour: "The donuts are lighter and the chicken gets a much lighter and more crispy crust."
Those looking for the more straightforward fried chicken can opt for the various pairings, including leg and thigh, breast and wing, wings alone, a big family style combo or boneless chicken tenders. But if you're craving a hearty sandwich option, you can go for the Birdies Original, which features the chicken topped with cole slaw, buttermilk ranch mayo, Tillamook cheddar and cured pickles, served on a buttery housemade bun. Or if you're looking for a bit of heat we highly recommend the Birdies Spicy, which includes the addition of an addictive ghost pepper mayo and Tillamook pepperjack. There's also a great breakfast sandwich which features eggs (over easy or scrambled) with fried chicken tenders or applewood smoked bacon, Tillamook cheddar and Birdies special sauce.
Chef Harely, along with business partner Keith Bae, has big plans for Birdies, with a second, larger L.A. location in the works, a shop in New York, and possibly expansion to Asia as well. But for now, he's happy to be turning out his chicken, donut, coffee combo at what he refers to as his "test kitchen." Daily specials and new donut flavors will be developed regularly in Birdies' Chef Incubator Lab, where Harley is currently training Jake Epstein as the first sous chef.
Birdies is located at 314 W Olympic Blvd., South Park, (213) 536-5720.