Monica Dimas's setup with Montana and Nacho Borracho must be working out rather well: The chef is getting ready to open Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches inside Rachel's Ginger Beer's 12th Avenue location.
RGB founder Rachel Marshall co-owns Nacho Borracho, where Dimas runs the "permanent popup" Neon Taco. In September, Dimas opened Tortas Condesa, a walkup window on Olive Way that doubles as the kitchen for nearby dive bar Montana (also co-owned by Marshall...got all that?). That same space-sharing model will apply at Marshall's 12th Avenue ginger beer bar, except instead of Mexican street food or hefty tortas, Dimas will serve up honking pieces of fried chicken sandwiched in a bun and piled with toppings like dill pickles and slaw, and maybe some jalapenos, or bacon and a fried egg.
In her travels to cities like LA or New Orleans, Dimas kept finding herself eating fried chicken sandwiches, and wondering why they aren't more common in Seattle (err, this doesn't count). Once she and Marshall hatched the plan for Sunset, she pondered all sorts of fried chicken recipes, but kept going back to the best version she had ever had, buttermilk brined, double dredged, and served at the staff meal at McCrady's back in 2010 when Dimas interned at Sean Brock's famed Charleston restaurant.
And that's what she'll be serving at RGB, from a custom built counter next to the bar, complete with illuminated signage. The lineup of chicken sandwiches includes the classic, topped with dill pickles, mayo, and cabbage slaw, and variations like the gluten-free number, crusted with cornmeal and topped with cucumber, yogurt, and pickled peppers. The culty-popular General Tso taco at Neon Taco inspired a similar sandwich, the chicken topped with cilantro and crunchy daikon; vegetarians can order a fried green tomato sandwich that sounds every bit as appealing as its meaty brethren.
Speaking of vegetables, Sunset's menu also has an old-school wedge salad, simply because Dimas craves them on the regular, and a lineup of southern-style sides like fried pickles and hush puppies and fried chicken livers.
While Seattle's newest fried chicken restaurants generally involve waffles, food cities like Los Angeles are experiencing a golden age of fried chicken sandwiches. RGB owner Rachel Marshall says the counter will have a sort of southern California beachy vibe that goes well with her own bright, citrusy drinks.
Marshall and Dimas first hatched the idea of Neon Taco when Dimas was consulting on the existing food menu at RGB 12th Ave, which centers on fries and dipping sauces. The fries still stay, as will a streamlined menu of dipping sauces.
Sunset will likely open in the first half of April, as soon as that new counter is ready, and serve from lunch through late night. Until then, there should soon be plenty of fried chicken to ogle on Sunset's Instagram account.