DeeLuxe Chicken

fast-casual comfort food with a sauce bar + soft serve

by Avivah with Offline

DeeLuxe Chicken 101

Open in September of 2018, DeeLuxe Chicken initially branded themselves as a strictly-traditional fried chicken joint, but now they’ve expanded their menu to include sustainably-raised seafood, house-ground burgers, and a larger selection of drool-worthy sides, along with healthier options like Herb Grilled Chicken and fully-loaded salads. It’s a casually hip spot with an *expansive* sauce bar and expertly-executed dishes, served up fast and fresh. 

Masterminded by Scott Howell (of Nana’s fame) and Rick Robinson (a longtime veteran of the elevated, fast-casual cooking scene), DeeLuxe Chicken is a punchy spot with a little something for everyone. During the day, it’s a bustling lunch spot for nearby workers and schoolchildren. In the evenings, things slow down to cater to Durham’s young professionals and new families. Howell says he likes to think of it “like a swiss army knife so folks can use it however they want.” Grab ‘n go lunch? Check. A budget-friendly family feast? You got it. Fresh juice cocktails and soft serve on the patio? Yep, that too.

DeeLuxe has got a straightforward menu, available daily—but that doesn’t mean you’ll be eating the same thing every time. They’ve got a DIY sauce bar that’s truly the heart and soul of the place, letting you customize your meal with a dozen scratch-made sauces and housemade bread ‘n butter pickles. One day you’re drizzling your Chicken sandwich with tangy Alabama White Sauce, the next you’re dunking tenders in Korean Sweet and Spicy.

DeeLuxe, in short, is the place fast-food spots wish they could be: quick, affordable food for all—it’s Chick-fil-A’s grown-up, classier cousin, with taste and character to boot. 

What to order

If it’s your first time, your best bet is to stick with the tried and true classics. The Purist ($6.75)has got a less is more philosophy: there’s just hand-battered, Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast and pickles on a butter toasted bun. Eat it as is or hit up the sauce bar to spice things up (the Chef personally recommends the Charred Jalapeño Mayo here). If you’re looking for little more, go for The Deluxe Chicken Sandwich ($8.25) which adds homemade Apple-Celery Root Slaw and Sambal Mayo.

The Family Pack ($25.95)  is an AH-MAZING deal if you’ve got a group (or if you’re really hungry). It’s got four generous servings of their famous chicken tenders, plus buttery Texas Toast, a half-gallon of tea and your choice of two giant sides—prepare to feast!

Here, sides are officially known as Sidekicks ($2.95 each, $7.95 for any three), but many of them are scene-stealers all on their own: the Asian Cucumbers are refreshing and tangy, with a serious kick at the end; the Velveeta Mac ‘n Cheese with Tasty Crunchies is the perfect balance of creamy and crispy; the Homestyle Potato Salad is bright and flavorful. 

If you’re looking for a healthy option, they’ve got bright salads and a hearty Vegetarian Portabello Burger ($6.95), complete with Swiss cheese and irresistible “Tasty Crunchies” for textural complexity. You can get any sandwich with Citrus-Herb Grilled Chicken (in lieu of fried chicken). We like it best Cali Style ($8.75), with pepper jack cheese and guacamole.

But whatever you end up ordering, don’t you dare forget to hit up the sauce bar!

They’ve got eight local NC brews on tap, along with a few wine selections and three, freshly-juiced, liquor-based drinks from their Boozy Bubbler, including a mojitomargarita and a rotating “Mystery Guest” cocktail that’ll keep you on your toes (they’ve got virgin versions, too). With the exception of a few canned/bottled beers, all drinks are a steal at just five bucks a pop. 

And if you’re feeling nostalgic, save room for dessert—the classic Soft Serve Ice Cream cones ($1) are a straight-up delight. Take it to the next level and upgrade your cone with a Flavor Swirl (.50) for a burst of strawberry, butterscotch, or whatever else tickles your fancy.

Pro Tips

  • On Mondays, you can get a Chicken Sandwich or single burger, sidekick and a draft brew for just $10!
  • Their daily lunch special (available from 11a-2:30p) will fill you up for just nine bucks. 
  • On Tuesday, all pints are $3.
  • Keep an eye out for Burgers and Brewgrass on Thursdays, which brings in a live band from 5:30p-7:30 and lets you score beers for just a dollar when you order a burger. Insiders know to request the dressing from the Spicy Asian Cucumber sidekick and to use it as a dipping sauce. 
  • And we’ll say it one more time because it’s that crucial: DON’T FORGET THE SAUCE BAR.