In a space that once housed a recording studio, the Crack Shack is now open for business in bustling Old Town. The name alone prompts double-takes from passerby unfamiliar with the franchise, as they prowl the streets in search of Black Friday deals. If they’re hungry and curious, they stop to check it out, greeted by a giant chicken statue once they step into the restaurant.
The Crack Shack offers a small but creative selection of sandwiches, bowls, half fried birds and full fried birds, sides and kids meals. The new twists to traditional fried chicken fare may make it a local favorite.
While the number of menu items is smaller compared to many restaurants, the Crack Shack casts a wide net. Want breakfast at noon? Try The Royale, containing chicken sausage, eggs and cheddar pressed between two english muffins. Looking for something to set your tongue on fire? There’s the Firebird. Want fish? An odd thing to look for in a chicken place, but they even have that in the Sea Senorita, composed of tuna loin and mustard tartar sauce. They use a variety of breads and there are some intriguing condiments adorning their sandwiches, like maple butter and lime mayo, which are likely to attract the more adventurous eaters.
The sodas selection is provided courtesy of Stubborn Soda, a comparatively new craft soda company allied with PepsiCo. The extraordinarily fizzy flavors range from standard cola to agave vanilla cream and lemon berry acai. Thankfully, unlike Pepsi, they do not taste like sad Coca-Cola and mingle well with the food.
I decided to live dangerously, and ordered the G-Bird topped with shishito relish. It was drippy, but it did not fall apart in my hands, even if I did clumsily get some sauce on my jeans. Much to my relief, the relish was delightfully sweet and stopped just short of being too spicy. The romaine, tomato and almost fluffy wheat brioche bun made it an impressive blend of sweet, sour, and smooth texture. After finishing it, I had to take a short break to recover.
The Malibu Barbieq was equally interesting, even if the composition was more familiar. The barbecued chicken paired with bacon and an onion ring naturally blend well. Unfortunately, the saltiness overwhelmed the pineapple mustard, which is what I was looking forward to the most. Those who ordered it for everything else, I suspect, will not be disappointed.
The Schmaltz Fries are thick-cut and ultra-crispy loveliness. Unlike most fries, they do not envelope your mouth with sadness when they grow cold. The Chicken Oysters resemble chicken nuggets, but fill your mouth with oily fried chicken goodness when bitten into. Your arteries may clog if you eat too many, but at least you’d die happy.
It is a casual setting and caters to the sports lovers. There is a small bar in the corner of the restaurant. Numerous large flat screens are posted on the walls for those who want to catch the game while they eat. Even so, it is clean and unclustered, so it is perfectly possible to enjoy a meal without a crowd milling around. There are notable theme-related quirks: the occasional chicken cluck or rooster call occasionally interrupts the ambient pop music, and the mural of the Rose Parade with the heads of the participants replaced with chicken counterparts. The Crack Shack is proud of what it is, and it is a place that really, really likes chicken.
Old Town offers a ton of variety when it comes to eats, but nothing quite like this. If you’re in the mood to eat and watch your favorite sporting event, or just nearby while on a shopping jaunt, the Crack Shack is a fun investment of your money and time. You don’t even need to order chicken!