A veteran of Houston's restaurant scene has partnered with a longtime dining enthusiast and talented home cook to bring Houston really good fried chicken. Joshua Martinez, recently of Goro & Gun and currently of The Modular food truck, and Paul Sedillo will open The Chicken Ranch in the former Bellissimo space on North Main in October.
Modeled loosely after the new wave of fried chicken joints like Gus's and Lucy's that have recently swept Austin, The Chicken Ranch will serve a stripped down menu of fried chicken, chicken wings, biscuits and sides with a tidy selection of craft beer and sparkling wine. The restaurant will also offer to-go options, including wine and draft beer in growlers, via online ordering.
"I don’t think people ever get tired of great barbecue, great fried chicken, great pizza for that matter. I don’t think it’s going away. To me, cupcakes are a fad. We’re not cupcakes."
"Our goal is not to overthink. We just want to have good food that our friends want to eat," Sedillo tells CultureMap. "It’s a concept we’re bringing to Houston that we really believe in. We hope other people believe in it as well."
While there are a variety of techniques that restaurants employ to create crispy, moist chicken, Martinez is going with a simple batter that's prepared in a deep fryer. "It’s very basic," Martinez explains.
"It’s not overthinking the process, just execution. That’s the secret to it: Execution."
The research process has been extensive. Between them, Sedillo and Martinez say they've visited every noteworthy fried chicken restaurant in Houston, Austin and New Orleans. "If we could be named in the same breath as any of those places we’ve already been to," Martinez starts before Sedillo interjects “it’d be an honor.”
At a tasting on Sunday, Sedillo and Martinez presented a test batch to Houston hip hop legend Bun B and this reporter. The chicken was moist, crispy and not at all greasy. The only problem was slightly too much salt, but it shows a lot of promise for a restaurant that still has two months to tweak its preparation. Even after a night in my fridge, the chicken was still moist (cold fried chicken being as essential as cold pizza). They're also developing a spicy version that wasn't ready for sampling.
Sedillo doesn't think this new wave of fried chicken joints is some fad. "I don’t think people ever get tired of great barbecue, great fried chicken, great pizza for that matter," Sedillo says. "I don’t think it’s going away. To me, cupcakes are a fad. We’re not cupcakes."
If Sedillo and Martinez have their way, The Chicken Ranch will become a Houston institution.
"Going to that longevity, you have places like Willie Mae’s Scotch House (in New Orleans), now, what 60 years running? It’s not a fad," Martinez says.