Still shaken from my disastrous encounter with Lola Gaspar a couple of days ago, I enjoyed lunch with my colleagues one door down at Memphis at the Santora. You can find me here at least once a week in the evening, usually the Drinking Liberally OC event, making an ass out of myself. Those days, I try to mitigate the Maker's with a soul burger, one of the great ones in la naranja. The few times I visit Memphis for lunch, I tend to stick with the popcorn shrimp tacos, crunchy snacks of joy. But when the waitress today mentioned that one of the specials was a fried-chicken sandwich, I asked for it immediately.
Fried chicken and I have a tough history. Too much fried anything get me sick after a lifetime of bad chicharrones experiences, and Memphis' regular fried chicken--whether as a bar appetizer or a meal--is too rich, too fatty for me, which is to say it's a perfect rendition. The fried-chicken sandwhich that came to my table, however, was beyond perfect--it's something I can eat every day. The hen was breaded, fried a bit but not so much that it melts into lard inside your mouth. I can't remember a juicer cutlet that this one, and it snuggled inside an egg bun alongside some type of dressing and a long, solitary pickle (bacon strips and tomatoes also accompany the sammich, but I declined the two since I've recently suffered a pork overload--more in next week's installment of This Hole-in-the-Wall Life!). I felt crunch, savoriness, tartness, tenderness, freshness with every bite: truly, an Orange County landmark on par with the Wedge. Just one caveat--Memphis' fried-chicken sandwich is a special, so you can't get it every day. Ask for it, demand it, and bring joy to all eaters this Christmas by making it a menu regular.
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Memphis Cafe, 201 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 564-1064; www.memphiscafe.com.