Chick-fil-A. Did it live up to the Hype?

Our first taste of the famous Southern fast-food chain chicken Sammies!

If you are addicted to watching YouTube videos about camping, #vanlife, and RV travel like we are, you’ve likely been “influenced” to go to a new place based on the experience and recommendations of the social media vloggers.

Such is the case with the national fast-food chain Chick-fil-A. The Atlanta-based family-owned business opened its first mall location in 1967 and opened their first stand-alone restaurant in 1986.

Their signature Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, a boneless chicken breast, breaded and pressure-cooked and served on a toasted burger bun, skyrocketed the chain into the fast-food limelight and is still the top seller.

During your travels you may have seen one of the chain’s funny billboards, that features a couple of renegade, and fearless cows, perched high above the roadway, who have painted the words “EAT MOR CHIKIN” across the top of the billboard.

How did we hear about the “Chick?”

We regularly watch RV YouTubers and social media influencers Nathan and Marissa of “Less Junk, More Journey.”

The couple is from Tennessee and sold their “sticks and bricks” home in 2015 and moved into an RV. They have two children who travel everywhere with them.

They create videos showing why it’s worth living a life of less junk, more journey. They release a new video every Sunday on topics like downsizing, bucket list destinations, route planning, and finding the right RV.

So, to make a long story short, Marissa loves Chick-fil-A. Many times, she makes her husband Nathan drive their large fifth wheel camper to the nearest Chick-fil-A to eat a meal on the road. As she proudly states in her thick southern accent, “I got to have my Chick-fil-A!”

Ok, we were sold.  We had to find out what this place was all about.

But really, what could be so different? A chicken sandwich is a chicken sandwich, right? We needed to do our own due diligence and research and draw our own conclusions. In the name of science, of course!

Admittedly, it wasn’t a “Let’s pack the van and head out on the road and find a Chick-fil-A” type pilgrimage. But we had agreed, if we came upon one of their 2,700 locations during an upcoming road trip, we would stop and try it out.

Now we know the fast-food chain has locations in the Minneapolis area, and we could have driven about 2.5 hours from our home base to one of those restaurants, but what fun would that be?

During our recent week-long “Get me outta this damn snow and Midwest cold weather” road trip south to the Texas Gulf Coast, we were able to find several Chick-fil-A locations. (We’ll have a full recap on that Texas trip in an up-coming blog post.)

The first Chick-fil-A we came upon during our journey south was closed. As we remembered, it was a Sunday, and the faith-based company closes all their locations on Sundays so employees can worship and spend time with family.

It was on our drive back home that we landed at a Chick-fil-A location near Oklahoma City. It was dinner time, and the parking lot was packed. The drive thru lanes were rocking.

Chick-fil-A employees were greeting hungry motorists in line and taking their food orders so their food would be ready by the time they got to the pick-up window. That was impressive.

But still. It’s a chicken sandwich.

What is drawing so many people to this restaurant, when the Arby’s across the street had one or two cars in their parking lot? We were going to find out!

JK parked the van in the bright red glow of the huge Chick-fil-A neon sign and went in to see what was on the menu, order our food then bring it back to enjoy.

Even though the restaurant was very busy, he was immediately acknowledged and welcomed by one of the staff as soon as he got inside.

The menu is single-focus – chicken sandwiches and a few variations.

The selections include basic crispy chicken – regular or spicy, and grilled chicken sandwiches. They do offer chicken nuggets – crispy or grilled, chicken strips, a chicken wrap, and three green salads featuring, you got it, chicken. That’s it.

No roast beef, no tacos, no burgers. Just chicken.

Interest in offering healthy food options for their customers (besides the creamy, cheesy Mac and Cheese and waffle fries) side dishes include several hot soups, a crispy kale and roasted almond bowl with an apple cider and Dijon mustard vinaigrette, fresh fruit cup, Greek yogurt parfait, and kid’s squeeze tube applesauce.

They also serve breakfast which features typical fast food breakfast fare such as chicken biscuit, bacon, egg and cheese muffin and a hash brown scramble burrito.

Back with the goods

JK was only gone for a few minutes before he came walking proudly back to the van carrying a couple Dr. Peppers, and a large bag filled with waffle fries, and two deluxe crispy chicken sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, and cheese.

The sandwiches were a decent size and seemed freshly made. But the addition of the lettuce and tomato made the sandwich hard to eat. It’s not a good choice for a single-handed eating behind the wheel type meal.

The chicken and fixings were slipping out of the bun with each bite and had to be reassembled before each subsequent bite.

The cheese, lettuce and tomato might have taken away the impact of the crispy chicken breast. The bun was very good and fresh with the proper ratio of bun to chicken.

Next time we’d probably order the basic chicken sandwich which only includes a few pickle slices.

Per JK’s request, we were supplied with a full selection of Chick-fil-A dipping sauces, from their original signature mayonnaise and mustard-based sauce, to their Polynesian sauce, to a spicy sriracha sauce.

The Chick-fil-A Original dipping sauce was the best choice in our opinion and complimented the chicken’s crispy coating seasonings. A small selection of Chick-fil-A sauces are available at the grocery store. We liked the Original sauce so much, JK picked up a bottle last time he was at the grocery store.

Our only disappointment was the waffle fries

We like our fries hot. There were plenty of fries included in our order and many of the fries were quite large. But they were just barely warm, like they had been sitting away from the heat lamp for a while. This was really surprising considering how busy the restaurant was and how many orders of fries they must go through during a meal rush.

In conclusion, how does Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich compare to the competition?

We did not try the spicy crispy chicken or grilled chicken breast offerings, so our conclusions are based solely on the basic crispy chicken sandwich. JK usually orders the crispy chicken sandwiches at Arby’s since he’s not a big fan of their roast beef.

And on occasion JK will get a chicken sandwich at McDonalds. Mikey D’s chicken breading is very peppery, and you would have to be a fan of black pepper to enjoy it.

In JK’s opinion, Arby’s basic crispy chicken sandwich is good, and the coating is without the heavy-handed pepper, making it much more palatable than McDonalds’ version.

Is Chick-fil-A’s sandwich the winner?

We think more research is in order. We almost stopped a second time at a different Chick-fil-A during our trip back to Minnesota but opted for getting a burger.

We’re all for giving Chick-fil-A a second chance. Next time we will go for the basic crispy chicken without all the “produce.” We might try the grilled variation to get a profile on that as well. The Mac n’ Cheese looked good, too. Kim ALWAYS loves good mac n’ cheese so maybe we’ll let her be the expert judge on that one! lol

Disregarding the social media hype, either one of us were “wowed” over our food. It was very good, and the ingredients seemed fresh and well prepared, except for the cold fries. The service was fast and friendly. But would we drive miles out of our way to “have my Chick-fil-A?” Probably not. But, if it’s on our way, then it will be a contender.

Have you tried Chick-fil-A?

What’s your spin on this fast-food restaurant’s food?  What’s your go-to Chick-fil-A menu item? Do you love them, or are you kinda like us, just ho-hum?

Let us know in the comment section of this blog! We’d love to hear from you.

Be sure to watch the companion video to this blog post coming out Friday morning on our JK and Kim in the Camper YouTube channel! Here’s the link:

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