Since leaving her home town of San Diego just over two years ago, Lydie Lovett has gotten used to selling her Chicken Rebel fried-chicken sandwiches in someone else's joint. She's set up at breweries, on Finn's Manor's food truck patio, and inside Avanti Food & Beverage. But Chicken Rebel finally has a permanent home; Lovett is opening the doors to her new restaurant at 3618 Tejon Street at 5 p.m this Saturday, November 23.
While Chicken Rebel has only been on the Denver scene for a little over two years, Lovett was on the forefront of a chicken sandwich wave that has hit the city since then. "People have elevated the burger for a while now, but not many people were doing it with chicken," she explains, adding that she still gets messages from fans in San Diego asking when Chicken Rebel will return.
"And it's been cool to see people in Denver who knew us from San Diego," adds Chicken Rebel general manager Kat Westmark.
The Chicken Rebel counter at Avanti was a great way to prepare for running a restaurant, Lovett continues, because of the high volume of customers and the fast pace. And now that she has her own kitchen for the first time in seven years of doing business (including several years in San Diego), she's expanding the Chicken Rebel menu. In addition to the Rancher (fried chicken, bacon, avocado and buttermilk ranch) and the Fancy Tots (topped with lemon, parsley, parmesan and garlic mayo) — Chicken Rebel's two biggest sellers since day one — a few new items have been added. There's a breakfast chicken sandwich topped with bacon, a fried egg and honey butter, the completely vegan Freebird, and the Hometown Rebel, loaded with guacamole, bacon and Rebel sauce, a nod to In-N-Out Burger's special sauce.
All told, the new menu offers seven sandwiches, five versions of loaded tots, a salad, two kinds of tacos, and a few other shareables and entree-sized plates. So once you work your way through the chicken sandwich list, you can switch to chicken and waffles or mac and cheese made with Gouda, white cheddar and pale ale, with sides of fried pickles and deviled eggs thrown in for fun.
Brunch will arrive next month, with fried-chicken Benedict, Cali-quiles, Cap'n Crunch stuffed French toast and bananas Foster pancakes to go along with favorites from the regular menu.
The new restaurant boasts an enormous chicken mural painted by Denver artist Sal Tino, a Star Wars pinball machine, a tabletop arcade game with more than 400 classic video games, and an order counter made from skateboard decks. A full-service bar will serve several Southern California beers, including Ballast Point, Port Brewing and Modern Times, as well as a special Chicken Rebel Moscow Mule on tap and a short list of house cocktails. Lovett notes that the bar menu won't be too fancy, since Mythology Distillery is right next door serving higher-end drinks, but she does plan to stock a few of Mythology's labels.
After opening day, Chicken Rebel will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Once added, brunch will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.
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