Metro, Food, Business, Newton

Coming in Hot: Dave’s Hot Chicken Impresses at Newton Grand Opening

It was SoCal 3,000 miles away from Venice Beach.

Temperatures were in the 60s, “Surfin’ USA” by The Beach Boys thumped in the background, and a long line stretched out of the propped-open doors.

But at Dave’s Hot Chicken, a Los Angeles–based, fast-casual restaurant, the good energy is not what impressed customers the most at its Newton location’s grand opening—it was the food.

“They had super moist chicken, and when I bit into it, it was like biting into a slice of heaven,” said Joseph Anderson, a Bentley University student who attended the grand opening. “And when I did it, it was like a little bit of crunch but then just a full melt of flavors in my mouth.”

As part of a 10-location Greater Boston expansion, the new Dave’s location held an official opening on Friday at 141 Needham St., debuting its hot chicken tenders and sliders to some first-timers and others who got to know the chain back in Los Angeles.

David Park, a Newton Resident, learned about Dave’s grand opening through a Facebook post. But Park—from Los Angeles—has eaten Dave’s chicken before. 

“[Dave’s is] just really good spicy fried chicken,” he said. “There’s a lot of spinoffs and knock offs too.”

Four best friends opened a hot chicken stand in an East Hollywood parking lot in May of 2017, according to Los Angeles Magazine. From there, Dave’s expanded into a fast-casual chain with over 50 locations across the country, from California to New England.  

Boston native Bob Quinlan—the co-franchisee of the Newton joint and nine other locations opening in Greater Boston—went to Los Angeles with his business partner about a year ago to experience Dave’s for himself.

“It was awesome,” he said. “We did the undercover boss thing. We went around to all the Dave’s Hot Chickens before we met with the president, Bill Phelps. And, you know, we wouldn’t invest in it if we didn’t think it was great chicken, so it was mind-blowing chicken.”

The restaurant only serves three meals—two tenders, two sliders, or a hybrid with one tender and one slider, all of which come with fries. The chicken comes in seven heat options, ranging from no spice to reaper. 

The tenders might make some customers cry—but in a good way. The skin is crispy but still holds onto the tender meat of the chicken. Although Dave’s only includes a maximum of two tenders in a meal, they are much bigger than the alternatives found at chains like Raising Cane’s.

  The soft bun lets the chicken be the star of each bite without letting the whole sandwich fall apart.

“The buns … were warm and soft and just like feeling at home almost,” Anderson said.

The hot sauces at Dave’s seem similar to what iconic Nashville joints like Prince’s Hot Chicken offer. Mashed reported that many people credit Prince’s as the birthplace of the dish first popularized in Nashville’s historically Black neighborhoods. 

The extra hot sauce packs a serious punch. Compared to buffalo wings, the sauce is not messy, requiring just a one-napkin cleanup instead of a whole paper towel roll. It would have been nice to wash down the spice with some homemade lemonade, but Dave’s only offers the Hi-C version.

Quinlan likes a variety of sauces with his order. 

“My go-to is Dave’s #2, which is the two sliders,” he said. “They’re so good. I usually get a mild and a medium—two different heat levels. I like the kale slaw. I like the pickle. I like the sauce.”

Quinlan said Boston has been slower to adopt the hot-chicken trend when compared to other major metropolitan areas.

“We’re seeing it pop up [in] all different communities around the country,” he said. “And Boston doesn’t have that. Boston doesn’t have a place that has a good vibe, you know. That’s my opinion—and there’s some old, tired brands, and we wanted to jump in with this one.”

Green-and-black graffiti murals stretch across the walls and might make customers feel like they are walking down the Venice boardwalk. Even though the seating is mostly metal, the dine-in experience felt comfortable. 

While the interior decorations of the restaurant feel busy—including a rubber chicken peering down onto the customers—the menu is simple. 

In addition to three meals, Dave’s offers sides such as cheese fries and mac and cheese. The crinkle cut fries are some of the best compared to other chicken chains, as they are crispy and topped with original seasoning. The chain also typically serves milkshakes, but a cashier on opening day said those are coming soon to the Newton location.

Out of many chains popping up right now, Quinlan said Dave’s stands out. 

“There’s a big chicken war going on out in L.A. right now, and so we saw a lot of that before we went into Dave’s,” said Quinlain, who was sporting a Dave’s trucker hat. “And people love Dave’s. They saw the hats, saw the shirt everywhere, [saying], ‘Oh my God, Dave’s Hot Chicken.’ That’s awesome.” 

In Boston, Dave’s joins the late-night scene. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday through Sunday.

Anderson ordered the two-slider meal at the hot level and said the food was delicious. 

“Everyone should go,” he said.

Images by Victor Stefanescu / Heights Editor

April 10, 2022
RECENT COMMENTS
FlICKR GALLERY
THEMEVAN

We are addicted to WordPress development and provide Easy to using & Shine Looking themes selling on ThemeForest.

Tel : (000) 456-7890
Email : [email protected]
Address : NO 86 XX ROAD, XCITY, XCOUNTRY.