Dallas-based Super Chix positions itself as an alternative to the likeminded Chick-fil-A, offering a similar but better class of food that includes fried-chicken sandwiches made with gourmetlike toppings and no MSG, along with hand-cut fries and fancy custard shakes.
An Arlington test store came and went a few years ago. But everything that opens near Fort Worth's rapidly developing Hospital District and Near Southside seemingly turns to gold, maybe ensuring Super Chix's first flight into Fort Worth — the fifth store in the mini-chain — a longer life.
The vibe: Very family-friendly. Located on the ground floor of a new building that overlooks Eighth Avenue, the store is bathed in a canary-yellow color scheme punctuated by funny illustrations of chickens, obviously meant to bring a smile to the faces of young diners. There's hipster appeal as well: Music from Spoon, Girlpool and other indie acts spills through the speakers.
At first, the layout is a little confusing. If you come in through the back entrance, where the main parking lot is, first you'll see the pick-up counter, which you'll probably mistake for the ordering counter. The ordering counter is actually a few feet to the right, behind a zig-zagging walkway.
Large overhead menus present your options: fried-chicken sandwiches and strips; grilled chicken sandwiches; a fried-avocado sandwich; two salads; a handful of sides; and custard-based shakes; there's also Shiner beer and soda pop from Stubborn Soda in flavors such as pineapple cream soda. You make your way through the line, then pick up your food when your pager goes off.
The food: We tried a bit of everything, starting with the signature Deluxe sandwich ($5.99), a fried-chicken sandwich topped with garlic aioli, pickles, lettuce and tomato. First thing I noticed: The fantastic buttered and toasted potato rolls from Pennsylvania-based Martin's Famous Pastry Shoppe. Springy yet firm, they're the same buns used by Shake Shack. So far, so good.
Veggies were crisp and fresh and the thick-cut pickles had a pleasant zing to them. The chicken, of course, is the star attraction. Marinated daily, hand-breaded and then cooked in refined peanut oil, it's not your typical fast-food fried chicken. The focus is clearly on the crust: a darkish shell both proficiently crunchy and nicely chewy. Bummer that the garlic aioli sauce — or any type of seasoning — didn't make it on the sandwich.
I chalk that up to first-week jitters, because there was plenty of it on the avocado sandwich ($5.99), composed of a fried avocado half, Gouda cheese and plenty of the addictive garlic aioli. With the avocado protruding from the open-face sandwich like a shark fin, I thought it might be hard to eat, but I clamped down on the top bun and the avocado melted away, acting more as a spread than a topping. I could eat this sandwich every day.
Same goes for the excellent french fries ($2.69), a tangle of thin, hand-cut beauties bathed in black pepper, one of three seasonings available (your other two options: salty and sweet).
The service: Employees were knowledgeable and friendly. A manager checked on each table.
The verdict: Chick-Fil-A won't be shutting down any time soon, but Super Chix offers a formidable alternative. The restaurant is open on Sundays, too, and serves breakfast daily from 8 to 11 a.m.