It’s hard to stand out on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue. With everything from the original Amoeba Record Store to the first CREAM ice cream sandwich shop to street vendors selling crystals that promise to bring you inner peace, Telegraph is the pinnacle of Berkeley’s characteristic quirkiness. It’s always exciting when a new place opens up on Berkeley’s most famous street, and the opening of The Bird last year was no different.

Chloe Lee

It replaced The Melt, a student-favorite grilled cheese restaurant, and as such, had big shoes to fill. Berkeley’s The Bird is the second location of the San Francisco-based fried chicken sandwich restaurant, and it certainly holds its own among the iconic establishments lining Telegraph. While the menu is relatively limited, there’s something to be said for doing a few things and doing them well—which The Bird definitely does.

I ducked in for a quick lunch in the middle of a hectic weekday and was met with friendly and impressively speedy service. I ordered the classic fried chicken sandwich and a side of curly fries. The sandwich and fries were ready a few short minutes later, and I dug in.

The chicken

Chloe Lee

The sandwich was great; the chicken was crispy, hot, and very well-seasoned. Fried chicken often falls into the trap of sacrificing flavor for crunch, but that was not the case here. The Bird uses an eastern African spice blend called berbere to season its chicken, which provides subtle notes of ginger and garlic that gives the chicken a much greater depth of flavor than a typical piece of fried chicken.

Apples... on a sandwich?

I was pleasantly surprised by the sweetness of the homemade apple slaw on the sandwich. Little slivers of apple found a way into each bite and served as a nice contrast to the savory chicken and acidic pickles. The freshly-made bun was soft but sturdy enough to keep the chicken, slaw, and pickles contained. The sandwich was everything I've ever wanted out of a fried chicken sandwich: the bread was soft, the chicken was crispy, hot, and savory, the pickles were crunchy and sour, and the apple slaw was cool and sweet. It was a little bit of everything in the best way possible, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

Curly fries

Chloe Lee

I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad curly fry, but The Bird’s were particularly good. They were perfectly cooked, avoiding mealiness or being too tough, and were seasoned well. For only $10.50, you can get the "Happier Meal," which is made up of a sandwich, fries, and a beer (or other beverage, if you're not 21).

Chloe Lee

In the end, The Bird has certainly established itself as a force to be reckoned with, even amongst the many giants of Telegraph. I enjoyed all aspects of my meal and will be back for another lunch very soon. If you’re looking for a high quality fried chicken sandwich or a quick lunch near Berkeley’s campus, The Bird is the place to go, and as the saying goes, The Bird really is the word.