We Americans know the UK for its’ tea and crumpets and fish n’ chips. Few people East of the pond associate London with chicken shops, fast food chicken joints serving cardboard boxes of fried, barbecued, or roasted chicken and fries. However, these take away establishments can be found all over town. In 2012, when chicken and chips were added to the UK’s consumer basket, the base for the Consumer Price Index which measures inflation, the chicken shop officially claimed its spot on the low-budget foodie scene.
Roosters Spot also offers healthy options — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
Talk to a local and they’ll correct you and say that the chicken shop isn’t a new phenomenon, that these fast food eateries have been around for at least ten years. 'The Fried Chicken Shop,' a documentary series that began airing earlier this year in the UK would suggest otherwise.
Star of "The Chicken Shop" documentary series — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
If you want to grab some chicken from the star shop of the show, you’ll have to head to Roosters Spot in Clapham. Located on a busy street with all types of stores and restaurants, Roosters welcomes characters, as can be seen on the documentary series.
All types of people stop in for a quick cheap bite to eat. — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
People come through its doors all through the day for its selection of fried and grilled chicken, chicken wraps, sandwiches, lamb ribs, chips, and a variety of sauces like burger sauce, garlic mayonnaise sauce and chili sauce.
Most chicken shops you find in London are individually-owned with a couple of small franchises such as Chicken Cottage and Morley’s. The shops are heavily concentrated in multicultural neighborhoods, feeding the masses at cheap prices. At Roosters Spot you can get a combo meal of a quarter grilled chicken, salad, “chips”, and a soda for £4.99, or roughly $8.00.
Some chicken shops diversify their offerings. — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
In Southwest London, you have your pick of shops such as Griller, Taste of Tennessee, Taste More Chicken, and Nando’s Piri Piri. In East London, travel down any major street and you’ll see it crowded with these fast food eateries, two or three to a block. One of the better shops is Sahara Grill, where in addition to your standard chicken shop fare you can also order items like fried noodles.
Clapham High Street — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
Chicken shops are harder to find in places like Oxford Circus, the popular shopping district in London but you may stumble on one or two sandwiched between a theater, selling pizza and other portable bites along with chicken and chips. You’re more inclined to find fish n’ chips in this part of town, which is good news for traditionalists. Fish n’ chip shops aren’t extinct; they just have to share the block with a new neighbor.