Fresh and Frisky
By Bill Gerdes
Feisty Chicken is raising a feathery fist at fast food
Feisty Chicken and Grill—the name suggests a plucky (or plucked) fowl bravely fighting for its life at the abattoir—is the latest in a number of upscale fast food restaurants opening up in the IE lately, from Rounds in Claremont to Canyon Crust in Riverside, we’re getting a wave of new, fast casual dining options. And to this I say Huzzah. When stuck with fast food I’d rather choose between Panera and Chipotle than Arby’s and Burger King. Unless of course I’m wickedly hung-over—then it’s off to Arby’s to punish myself, Middle Ages, penitent, self-flagellation style with the modern day cat-of-nine-tails—Arby’s cheddar melt.
But on to Feisty Chicken. I went to the one in Ontario—there’s also one in Rancho Cucamonga and Glendora—near the Ontario Mills Mall, a mall that both sucks and has an enormous squadron of satellite restaurants of all shapes, sizes and quality circling around it, catering to the hungry and the tired, the starving and the shopped-out. Feisty Chicken is one of these.
And, hey, you could do much worse than Feisty around these parts. This is a clean, well-lit, place that uses fresh ingredients and serves up some fairly tasty fast food along with service that is frankly too good for a place where you get your own soda. It doesn’t exactly stand out from the outside—aspiring restaurant moguls: a limp banner hanging bravely is no substitute for um . . . actual design elements. My first impression was that Feisty was a dump.
That went away though when my kids and I walked in and saw an extremely clean, almost sparklingly new interior and was greeted by a warm, friendly staff. I relaxed and we ordered. There are a slew of casual dining classics here, like wraps and chopped bowls, to chicken menus featuring rice and salads, but we kicked it a little trashier and went for the combo meals.
I had the Shredded BBQ-Y Sandwich, which is quite tasty actually. Marred only by a mediocre sauce, the chicken itself is juicy and, somewhat unusually for fast food chicken, still retains a nominal connection to the bird itself. I also love the buns here, toasted with poppy seeds, fresh and able to snugly hold its contents with spare sandwich bits flying everywhere. My son had the Classic Burger. The name might say it all, but I’ll add on enough to say he loved it, and a quick bite of mine own confirmed his diagnosis. The meat patty is fine but again it’s the bun and the fresh lettuce and beefsteak tomato that make it worthy of the name. My daughter had Chicken Fingers; for chicken fingers they were edible. My toddler had a banana.
Feisty Chicken and Grill might not be a destination restaurant; it may not spread across the state like Rubio’s. But it may serve your needs quite nicely if you’re looking for healthier quality fast food that also comes with more dippy sauces than you can shake a stick at. Plus they’ve got frozen yogurt, and all of this close to Ontario Mills, which is a large mall. Some people like large malls. I’m just saying.
Feisty Chicken & Grill, 4295 Concours St., Ontario, (909) 484-5415; www.feistychickenandgrill.com.