On Thursday, June 6 acclaimed food truck Chicken Rebel opened its second, and first non-mobile location at Avanti. Replacing American Grind, the fried chicken emporium hit the ground running. It immediately attracted long lines, watering mouths, and eyes full of regret from onlookers who made the hasty decision of getting their meal from one of the other stalls. The concept — which has steadily been gaining a cult following since it touched down in July 2017 — was developed by owner and operator Lydie Lovett, who moved here from San Diego with no initial intention of staying. Coming here to buy a truck with plans of driving it back to California, Lovett wound up sticking around because, as she plainly puts it, “the truck didn’t drive so well.” Fast forward two years, the rig is semi-permanently situated at Finn’s Manor and Lovett is now managing both locations. By every indication, the Avanti version has gone off without a hitch.
The menu is short and sweet. Six sandwiches, salads and sides — including several iterations of tot, fries, fried pickles and a pimento cheese dip — make up the entirety of the offerings, though Lovett plans to change the menu with some regularity, using Avanti as an incubator to try out new dishes. The organic, perfectly fried breast meat is some of the juiciest that can be found in town, and the portions are surprisingly generous. Chicken sandwiches all-too-often rely on breading and accouterments to make up for lack of sufficient fowl. Not so here. The behemoth portions are properly sauced and dressed, but the bird sits center stage at all times.
The Rebel ($12) — a new menu addition — is fried chicken hit with a generous portion of pimento cheese and bourbon bacon jam. Each bite is utterly indulgent. The bold flavors could easily step on one another — instead, they combine to form a delight greater than the sum of their parts. Classic offerings including Nashville hot, buffalo and the aptly-titled The Classic ($11) — which sees the chicken topped with tangy jalapeno slaw and roasted garlic aioli — are all done remarkably well. While it may be low on the pecking order, there is a vegetarian option. The Chick N ($12) mirrors The Classic and comes with tangy slaw, avocado and roasted garlic aioli. The green chili tots ($7) are covered in hatch chili, chipotle crema, green onions and a light dusting of cheddar blend. The delicate sprinkling of cheese allows the chili and chipotle to sit front and center — resulting in a surprisingly refreshing departure from the dish’ oft-over-cheesed counterparts. Simplicity reigns supreme across the menu — the food is bold and extraordinarily executed. Nothing here needs to be overcomplicated.
Lovett has no intention of slowing down, a Chicken Rebel brick and mortar is expected to open next to Mythology Distillery by the end of the summer. The spot will serve booze and all-day brunch. Considering the love lauded upon the current iterations, there’s not much more Denver’s fried chicken enthusiasts could ask for.
Chicken Rebel is located in Avanti at 3200 North Pecos St, Denver. It is open Sunday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
All photography by Colin Wrenn and Alden Bonecutter.