Pretty Bird –

Moist nashville hot-fried chicken meat and sandwitch with creative dry rub and sauces

Salt Lake City, UT – American – $ – Casual Dining
Sifter Critique

Brandon O. - Pro Sifter & PhotographerUpdated July 6, 2019. First published Nov 7, 2018.

4.7

Food

4.5

Service

4.0

Ambience

4.3

Value

Overview

Pretty Bird was founded by Viet Pham, a 2012 Iron Chef Winner. His newest creation in downtown Salt Lake specializes in Nashville hot-fried chicken. The location is small, the menu is simple, but the flavor is immense! Do yourself a favor and come early to avoid the lines!

Pretty Bird's Viet Pham on Iron Chef America

Photo © Television Food Network, G.P.

Value

Prior to coming to Pretty Bird, $15 for sandwich and fries from a fast-casual restaurant seemed excessive. That all changed after getting my order. Pretty Bird’s servings are massive! It took two of us to eat it and we still left full! Between the quality and portions, the value was definitely there for us.

3 most popular dishes

Their menu is simple, they have two options: The Fried Chicken Sandwich, and Quarter Bird. They also have a few side options like coleslaw and fries.

What I ordered

Everything on the menu of course!

Food quality

I had really high expectations prior to coming. Typically, when this happens, I’m more critical about my food. To my enjoyment, Pham’s chicken sandwich lived up to the hype.

Let’s break down the sandwich:

#1. The dry rub
Pretty Birds fried chicken comes with a thick rub of spices, which gives the chicken a deep golden color without being burnt. There are three levels of heat, all with a slightly different flavor. We tried two of the three; the mild and medium. The mild had a chili lime flavor to it while the medium had a southwest chipotle flavor to it. Both really tasty. Note, any hotter than medium will likely be too hot for most people.

#2. Thigh meat instead of chicken breast
Pretty Bird focuses on serving moist thigh meat. Due to this, the sandwich was a bit greasier than what I’m used to, but it literally melts in your mouth. My patty was also nearly an inch thick.

#3. The sauce
Pretty Bird adds a chili, lemon zest, mayonnaise-based sauce on all of their sandwiches. Nothing is ketchup based. This compliments the dry rub well and they serve this same sauce with their crinkle cut fries.

#4. The bread
Pretty Bird’s bun has a crisp outer edge, soft inside, and is thick.

#5. The toppings
In addition to pickles, Pretty Bird also adds a heap of apple-cider coleslaw to the sandwich, which gives the meal a sweet and savory flavor.

#6. The breading
The breading is thick and crunchy with a nice texture.

As I mentioned, we also ordered the quarter chicken. It’s essentially a chicken breast instead of thigh meat and uses the same breading and dry rub. There isn’t as much fat in the meat, so expect it to be dryer than the sandwich patty.

Ambiance

As you walk in, you’ll be greeted by a small open kitchen and modern decor, that is if you can make it past the crowds. In fact, it was so busy that there was no available seating and we were forced to sit outside. Keep in mind, this is 10 minutes after it opened at 11 am. Once outside, you’re surrounded by old brick buildings and clean graffiti art, mixed with vegetation. Much quieter outside. This area is nice in the warmer months.

Tight, Small Space With Little Seating – Photo: © Siftey

What I liked most

liked the blend of savory and sweet from the Fried Chicken sandwich. I typically don’t care for thigh meat but it was so moist!

What I disliked most

I thought the bun was a little too thick on the sandwich. I also didn’t care much for the crinkle cut fries. They were tossed in the dry rub, which helped, but they were pretty bland overall. They were a little undercooked and could have used a dash more salt.

The verdict

I really like Pretty Bird. If I lived closer to downtown and they had a better bun and fries I would have rated the food 5 stars for the quality and creative flavors. However, if you don’t like fried or spicy food it may not be for you. With this Pretty Bird, it’s all about the spice!

Chef Viet Pham in-front of his restaurant – Photo: Talyn Sherer, Slug Mag

Price tag range icon
$9 t0 $15 per entree

4.7

Food

4.5

Service

4.0

Ambience

4.3

Value

Overview

Dozens of our Instagram followers have recommended Pretty Bird. I figured it was about time to see what all the buzz is about. I mean, how much better could another fried chicken sandwich really be, right? What I decided to do was bring the original chicken sandwich, from Chick-fil-A, and compare it side by side, since most of Utah eaters can relate. Before we get into the review, a little history about the chef and restaurant:

Pretty Bird was founded by Viet Pham, former restaurant owner of Forage, who beat Bobby Flay in a “Ground Meat” round at Food Network’s 2012 Iron Chef America. Pham wowed the judges with his unique concoction “beef fat ice cream.” Don’t worry, the judges thought it sounded odd too, but it worked! This brought a piece of television fame to Utah. Pham also appeared back on Food Network’s series Extreme Chef and Beat Bobby Flay.

Pretty Bird's Viet Pham on Iron Chef America

Photo © Television Food Network, G.P.

Value

Prior to coming to Pretty Bird, $15 for a sandwich and fries seemed like a lot when comparing it to something like Chick-fil-A’s original sandwich. What I soon found out upon receiving my order, Pretty Bird’s servings are massive! Their chicken fillet is easily double the width and height of a Chick-fil-A sandwich and it took two of us to eat it. You definitely get your monies’ worth.

3 most popular dishes

Their menu is simple, they have two options: The Fried Chicken Sandwich, and Quarter Bird. They also have a few side options like coleslaw and fries.

What I ordered

Everything on the menu of course! ?

Food quality

I had really high expectations prior to coming. Typically when this happens, I’m more critical about my food. To my surprise, Pham’s chicken sandwich creation lived up to the hype. Before I get into the details, know upfront that it’s a different type of sandwich than Chick-fil-A. Here’s what’s different:

Pretty Bird’s Sandwich Next to Chick-Fil-A’s Original Chicken Sandwich – Photo: © Siftey

#1. The dry rub
Unlike Chick-fil-A, all of Pretty Birds fried chicken comes with a thick rub of spices, which gives the over-burnt look to the chicken (ours wasn’t actually over-burnt). There are three levels of heat, all with a slightly different flavor, according to the cashier. We tried two of the three; the mild and medium. The mild had a chili lime flavor to it while the medium had a southwest chipotle flavor to it. Both really tasty. Note, any hotter than medium will likely be too hot for most people. The heat would have made my kid cry but was on the edge of too hot and just right for me.

#2. Thigh meat instead of chicken breast
Pretty Bird focuses on moist meat. Due to this, the sandwich was a bit greasier than Chick-fil-A but literally melts in your mouth due to all of the fat. Pretty Bird’s fillet is also much thicker.

#3. The sauce
Pretty Bird put a chili, lemon zest, mayonnaise-based sauce on all of their sandwich. Nothing is ketchup based. This compliments the dry rub well and this serves this same sauce with their crinkle cut fries.

#4. The bread
Pretty Bird’s bun has a crisp outer edge and soft inside while Chick-fil-A’s bun is very soft and airy. Pretty Bird’s bun is also much thicker.

#5. The toppings
In addition to pickles, Pretty Bird also adds a heap of apple-cider coleslaw to the sandwich, which gives the meal a sweet and savory flavor.

#6. The breading
Chick-fil-A’s patty is lightly breaded while Pretty Bird’s fried chicken is about three times as thick.

Ambiance

As you walk in you’ll be greeted by a small open kitchen and modern decor, that is if you can make it passed the crowds. In fact, it was so busy that there was no available seating and we were forced to sit outside. Keep in mind, this is 10 minutes after it opened at 11 am. Once outside, you’re surrounded by old brick buildings and clean graffiti art, mixed with vegetation. Much quieter outside. This would be prime in the summer but a little chilly for the winter.

Tight, Small Space With Little Seating – Photo: © Siftey

What I liked most

I liked the blend of savory and sweet from the Fried Chicken sandwich. I typically don’t care for thigh meat either but it was so moist in the chicken sandwich! The chicken breast in the “Quarter Bird” entree was much drier.

What I disliked most

I thought the bun was too thick on the sandwich. I also didn’t care much for the crinkle cut fries. They were tossed in the dry rub, which helped, but they were pretty bland and reminded me of frozen food fries.

The verdict

I really liked Pretty Bird. Given the option, and if I lived closer, I would choose their sandwich over Chick-fil-A’s 1940’s original eight out of ten times. I must say, Pretty Bird needs better fries though. If they had a better bun and fries I would have rated the food 5 stars for the quality and creative flavors. However, if you don’t like fried or spicy food you’ll likely dislike it. With this Pretty Bird, it’s all about the spice!

Chef Viet Pham in-front of his restaurant – Photo: Talyn Sherer, Slug Mag

Price tag range icon
$9 t0 $15 per entree

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