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Howlin’ Ray’s

727 N. Broadway Ave., #128
Chinatown, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Critics' Pick
Best Of
Howlin’ Ray’s +

Anne Fishbein


  • Tue.-Fri., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Lunch

Part of the allure of Howlin' Ray's is undoubtedly the dare that lies at the end of its infamous, hours-long wait in line: How hot can you handle? There are six levels of heat, and anything above the third level, called "medium," is hot enough that it comes with a warning. "Do not touch your face after eating the chicken," the guy at the cash register warns if you order anything "hot" or higher: "You will burn your skin." Yet there's something about the sting of cayenne (as well as a ton of other kinds of peppers, including ghost peppers) that creates a similar endorphin rush to jumping into a freezing river or being initiated into Fight Club. Even if you order the "country"-style chicken — that is, level one, no heat at all — you'll find that this is incredible chicken, with or without the heat: The way the skin shatters and gives way, the utterly perfect spicing of the batter, the way it's indistinguishable from the skin of the bird, the juicy flesh underneath, all goes to show that there are far worse things you could do than spend half a day with your fellow weirdos, waiting in line for chicken so good it's made us all lose our collective minds. (And if you're looking for a lot of food, considering placing a pre-order online, to avoid the wait.) —Besha Rodell

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