Barbecue superstar chef Matt Horn adds a fried chicken-focused addition to his emerging Oakland comfort food kingdom, with Friday’s opening of Kowbird at the former Pretty Lady diner space.
Every best-fried-chicken-sandwich list in the Bay Area will likely need to be updated effective Friday, January 14. Michelin-honored barbecue pitmaster chef Matt Horn’s celebrity has only grown since he was named to Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs list for 2021, and fried chicken fans have been pickling with anticipation since hearing his fried-chicken sandwich shop Kowbird was slated to graduate from pop-up to a permanent spot in a new Jack London Square food hall.
That original arrangement got stymied last year, but undaunted, Horn will be opening a brick-and-mortar version of Kowbird on Friday, according to the Chronicle, at the West Oakland location formerly occupied by Pretty Lady diner.
“For me, fried chicken represents soul and love,” Horn says in a release. “Growing up, it was a dish that would bring my family together. Whether after church or in the backyard with friends, it was always centered around love.”
“To open a fried chicken concept in my home of Oakland is personal to me, it bridges family, love, soul, and good food,” he adds.
The Kowbird website does not list a menu, and in a sign of the food service times, devotes more space to the “Join our team” section than anything else. But according to their release, Kowbird’s menu will feature Matt Horn’s "signature buttermilk fried chicken in various versions, all served on a potato bun and accompanied by house-made pickles." Variations include the traditional Southern Bird; the Honey Bird, finished in a pickled mustard seed-honey sauce; the Early Bird, featuring chicken thighs, Southern-style gravy and a fried egg; and the Hot Bird, a version of a Nashville hot chicken sandwich finished and dusted with dried, fermented chilis, which Horn describes as "HOT, but not unbearable."
There will be a vegan option in the oyster mushroom sandwich, and not surprisingly, the menu will also include Chicken & Buckwheat Waffle, a wings-and-fries plate, and a Sunday-only fried catfish sandwich.
The side dishes sound amazing too, which include fried cabbage with country bacon, a fresh chicory slaw with pumpkin seed vinaigrette and citrus, a creamy white mac and cheese dusted with crispy chicken skins, fried gizzards, and steak fries.
To those of you obsessed with all things Horn Barbecue, Matt Horn has a Horn Barbecue cookbook coming out this spring, which is around when his burger concept Matty's Old-Fashioned is expected to open on Eighth Street in Downtown Oakland. But Kowbird arrives this weekend for Oakland fried chicken fans, and to fans who live elsewhere, Kowbird is a little less than a 15-minute walk from the West Oakland BART station.
Kowbird opens Friday, January 14, at 1733 Peralta Street in Oakland. Hours are Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Friday – Sunday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Image: @kowbird via Instagram