Streetcar Merchants of Fried Chicken, Doughnuts, and Coffee

When you think of San Diego you conjure up images of sunny beaches, surfers, burritos, and avocados; i don’t think fried chicken comes into your mind at all. Streetcar Merchants is going to change that, because they are doing amazing fried chicken. We went for lunch one day, with some friends, when it was pouring down rain ( which is weird for San Diego). When we got to the restaurant, which is located on a corner lot in the trendy North Park area, it was all open and not too busy. You can either peruse a paper menu or the giant menu on the wall. When we walked in, we walked right by their doughnut display case. Not sure if it was because it was later in the day or that’s how they display them, but there was only one of each doughnut in the case. I centered in on the cherry doughnut and knew I was not leaving there until that beauty was in my belly ( more on this later).

Streetcar’s story is they use Louisiana ingredients in their 2 parts Louisiana, 1 part innovation recipes, except for the doughnuts. The doughnuts are a brioche based recipe. The menu definitely supports this, because i was having a hard time deciding between the po’ boy and the chicken and waffles. I ended up with the Big Ed special which was three pieces of chicken, I opted for 3 legs, and 2 waffles. I also ordered The Palmer, which is their version of an Arnold Palmer, with Bama sweet tea and 30th st lemonade. The rest of my party ordered; which included biscuits and gravy, chicken and waffles a la carte, and a chicken sandwich. we also made sure to snatch up the cherry doughnut and a cream cheese filled one.

They let you know when you order that it will be about 20 or so minutes for your food to come out since they don’t bread or cook your food til it’s ordered. I appreciate this because this shows a level of attention to the ingredients that is being lost in our fast paced world. This gave me and my friends time to just hang out and talk for a bit and check out our surroundings. The restaurant is very low key and the ambiance is nice if not utilitarian. Their located on the corner of 30th st and Lincoln, which is just a few doors down from Redwing ( great neighborhood karaoke bar) and Coin Op ( great old school video game bar). The people at the counter were nice and attentive and gave great advice on what was good and what we should try.

The food comes and is served on metal trays with checkered paper, just very low key, which is weird since i would have served the chicken on a pedestal, it was that good. It was still hot and juicy on the inside and super crunchy on the outside. it paired perfectly with simple but delicious waffle and honey butter. There is a simple maple syrup which i made sure to put a liberal amount on both chicken and waffle. The two textures together, the soft fluffy waffle with the crunchy warm chicken was heaven when they came together in my mouth. This was classic southern food and made me feel warm inside on a day when it was gloomy and rainy. Andy had the OG sandwich with the Nashville hot option. This sandwich was so good, I’m not one for spicy but it was perfectly balanced. The chicken breast was still juicy and the breading was just the right amount. The chicken to bun ratio was exactly on point ( if not skewed just a bit towards the chicken). The biscuits and gravy were very good, the gravy just needed a tad bit more salt but the biscuit was light and flaky and buttery.

Now on to the damper of our lunch… the doughnuts. I know I called them a beauty earlier on, and they looked beautifully delicious, but looks can be deceiving. The cherry doughnut was dense and had a weird acidic flavor to it that was a bit off putting and it was dry. The frosting on top could have used a bit more cherry flavor to really punch it up. The cream cheese filled doughnut was not dry thanks to the filling but still pretty dense. I brought this up in a facebook thread and someone was like ” well I’m sure they had been sitting there for a while if you went in at lunch”. I’m sorry that’s not a good enough excuse. If you are going to pride yourselves on having the freshest ingredients and you don’t cook your chicken til it’s ordered so your guests have the best product available, why does that not extend to your doughnuts also. If that means you have to rotate them every couple of hours, then so be it. That’s how you give the best product all around.

All in all, I’d definitely recommend going to streetcar merchants to have the chicken and the waffles, together or separate, but skip the doughnuts.

Streetcar Merchants Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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