Aside from a few hours in Miami and a brief layover in Dallas (where I never left the airport), I’ve never been to anywhere you might call the American South. As much as I would like to think I know about southern barbecue or southern fried steak, my exposure has been… limited at best. It’s also absolutely true that eating at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen in Port Coquitlam is not at all equivalent to visiting New Orleans or Baton Rouge. But it’ll have to do. At least for now.
(Side note: It really bothers me that Popeye’s Chicken is officially stylized as “Popeyes” without the possessive apostrophe. That’s just strange, isn’t it?)
After our visit to Popeyes last week, I can officially say that we’ve knocked two out of the 10 items off that list. The other is Baohaus, which I featured in the New York City vlog back in June. Getting my hands on some casu marzu and sannakji will probably be a bit more challenging.
But back to the fried chicken. Long story short, it’s good. You should go. In fact, there was a guy in line that kept boasting to everyone else how he “had to drive 20 minutes from Burnaby” to get there. Someone should get that man a gold star.
As is par for the course for suburban sprawl, Popeyes is located in a relatively new development at the far end of Port Coquitlam. It’s just before the bridge to Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. If your car’s GPS has older maps, it probably won’t show up. Google Maps to the rescue! Thankfully, parking is plentiful.
The interior is a different matter. There is some seating, but you can expect things to get quite crowded when it’s busy. We thought we were early, showing up around 5 o’clock, but we were very lucky to snag a few seats. I overheard that lineups were over an hour when this location first opened about a month ago.
Obviously, we were there for the fried chicken. Beyond that, you’ll find chicken tenders, seafood (like popcorn shrimp and Cajun fish), and sandwiches, plus a number of “signature sides.” Individual meals can come in the form of a combo (with one regular side, a biscuit and a medium drink) or a platter (with two regular sides, a biscuit, and a large drink).
For example, a 2 piece chicken combo is $8.69, whereas the platter is $10.29. Regular sides are $2.49 and large sides are $6.29. Biscuits are available for $2.49 each (wow!), $3.99 for six, or $6.99 for a dozen.
We opted for the 8 piece family meal, which includes eight pieces of fried chicken (or tenders), one large side, and four biscuits. We also added a regular size coleslaw, which was crispy and creamy, but otherwise unremarkable.
What you see here is the “mild” fried chicken. It’s a little disappointing that you can’t pick white or dark; you just end up with a random mishmash. The breading is very crunchy and a tad on the heavy side, full of flavor. Unlike the “smooth” coating you get at Church’s, Popeyes chicken has more of a “crumbly” exterior. Even though there is no non-spicy option, the mild isn’t spicy at all.
The breast does have the back attached, so you will need to deal with some tiny bones. The meat, even in the breast piece, is juicy and succulent. I didn’t get a photo of the inside since, as you might imagine, my fingers became a greasy mess pretty quickly.
From the outside, the spicy chicken really doesn’t look all that different from the mild. Usually the spicy variant at other fried chicken restaurants is a tad darker, but I didn’t really notice it here. The breading consistency is identical, as is the juiciness of the meat itself.
I only had a couple bites of the spicy and I didn’t find it all that hot. Thankfully, they’ve got packets of hot sauce for those you who want to dial up the heat; the Popeyes hot sauce is similar to Frank’s.
Maybe I’m just not much of a biscuit person in general. The biscuits at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen are decidedly uniform in appearance and consistency. I feel like I’d enjoy them more with lots of butter in the middle, but I didn’t see any at the condiment stand.
My daughter loves French fries (what kid doesn’t?), but Popeyes only has Cajun fries and she can’t handle the heat (yet). I thought the onion rings would be a safe bet, but they’ve got a tinge of heat to them too. While she held her own, she didn’t inhale them the same way she’d inhale McDonald’s fries.
And really, I don’t blame her. The large onion rings were very sloppy with breading falling off just about everywhere to reveal the onion within. Considering how much of a satisfying crunch we had with the chicken, I was disappointed by the level of crispness to the onion rings too.
I went in with the impression that Popeye’s fried chicken had the same kind of legendary status as Shake Shake burgers or a Costco poutine. The chicken itself is very good. Juicy, crunchy and flavorful. It’s right up there with some of the best fried chicken in town. But it’s still “fast food,” so don’t expect the world of it.
The total bill came to $32. That’s hardly cheap, but realistically, it’s not all that different from other fried chicken places in Metro Vancouver. We ended up packing one piece of chicken, three biscuits and about half of the onion rings for snacking the next day. We may have to go back to try some of the other sides. I’ve been told the mac and cheese isn’t half bad.
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is located at #110 – 2170 Hawkins Street in Port Coquitlam. That’s the same Fremont Village outdoor strip mall as Walmart and PetSmart, on the other side of Hawkins as Five Guys and Canadian Tire. You can’t miss it.