Mrs. Knott's Chicken-To-Go - Buena Park
We are not cheapskates when it comes to food; but we are impatient. Height-of-the-hype Kogi days included, any line that wraps around a building is usually a sign we should go somewhere else. And so when when we saw what looked like a queue for Star Wars leading up to Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner restaurant, our hearts sunk, because by then, we had fried chicken on our brains and mashed potato cravings in our gut.
Then we saw salvation: a way to get our chicken without so much as a ten-minute wait. And even better: without paying a single dime on tip.
Mrs. Knott's Chicken-To-Go counter was mere feet where people were still standing around for the sit-down experience. These folks would all eventually get in, get served by probably a happier Knott's employee than the frowny-faced cashier who took our order at the Chicken-To-Go joint; but by our estimation, we were already licking our fingers and rubbing our tummies full from a meal well-eaten while they were still mulling menu choices.
And on top of that, it was inexpensive to boot. The dinner bucket we chose for $19.95 could have easily fed four people. It was certainly enough for the three of us with 9 pieces of hen, 2 tubs of mashed potatoes we couldn't even hope of finishing, 1 tub of gravy, 1 equally tall tub of a side of our choice, and more biscuits (of the tender and fluffy variety) with boysenberry preserves (a fruit that was popularized by Walter Knott, donchaknow) than we knew what to do with. They even gave us paper plates and utensils.
We took our haul to picnic tables conveniently located behind Pink's and promptly started diving in, slopping the creamy mashed spuds onto our plates, dousing the entire thing with a thick, white gravy so rich we saw it congeal to sludge the longer it was exposed to the cool night air.
Then we bit into the chicken.
Now, it must be said that none of us, in our decades as OC residents and food boosters, ever tasted the fried chicken at Knott's. I think I was the first one to say it: "What took us so long!?"
Though I can't unequivocally proclaim that it's the best fried chicken in the world, it's certainly one of the best in Orange County.
First thing we noticed is that it's not oversalted, not overbreaded, and not underfried. You know the lead-weighted feeling like you've just downed a cup of grease and salt after KFC? Not here. If it is possible, this fried chicken left us feeling light in our step, like what we ate was health food. I picked clean three pieces but I could've eaten a fourth. A fifth, however, would've probably killed my mobility. It's still fried chicken, after all.
But for sure, if this is the same chicken that Cordelia Knott produced to such acclaim that it begat an amusement park, then it all makes sense. In fact, I'd imagine it would have been much better back then. Of course, in the 1930s, there wouldn't be a Chicken-To-Go option, just a line that wrapped around the building.
Mrs. Knott's Chicken-To-Go
8039 Beach Blvd
Buena Park, CA 90620
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