The Wes Burger fried chicken sandwich. Photo by Lydia Chávez

One word, Mark: divine. It’s as though God deep-fried their tongue and gave me a cosmic swirl of a French kiss. After this post, I might just shave my head and take vows of silence and celibacy.

Coleslaw slightly sweet and tangy, its mayo a blessing on the natural crunch and sweetness of the cabbage. Bun toasted, almost — almost — sinfully charred on top. At first bite notes of chai, cinnamon and clove. The crush reverberated through my core like an O.G. Revelation. The juices of the chicken (mostly white meat) sang with the batter like a chorus of angels! Sour pickles mingled unimposingly with the slaw, giving it a flavor spectrum akin to the palate of Michelangelo. If you ever wondered how the ceiling of Sistine chapel tasted, this might be the closest you’ll get.

The sandwich was accompanied by a pile of pickled onions and cauliflower — less impressive than the sandwich, with its twilight-orange glow and flavor that bent toward kimchi — but God works in mysterious ways. One (perhaps unholy) suggestion: the sandwich best be had with a light pilsner to facilitate a small, and absolutely necessary, flavored belch.

Bring your fire and brimstone, friend. My faith in this sandwich is ready to be tested.

Note to Reader:

Full disclosure, transparent journalism, etc. etc. Monk’s Kettle is a Mission Local member, which meets with whole-hearted appreciation from the fried chicken desk.

Obviously, in itself this cannot explain Julian’s ravings.

It is also my opinion that the Kettle generally serves up the best food on the block. Especially if you are into beer, says my friend, noted beerista Fernanda (Freddie) P.

Note to Julian:

Get a grip, man. It’s fried chicken.

Freddie P. was moved by your review. She believes Dante’s Divine Comedy came from some kind of hallucinogenic (mushroom?) trip.

“And Julian writes his divine comedy,” she said, “after ingesting a fried chicken sandwich.”

I have to tell you Freddie P. is no authority on Dante, hallucinogens or fried chicken. She’s from the Andes, so she does know something about getting high.

Like the oarsmen in Canto 26, we flew to the Kettle.


Excellent. Everything you said about the Kettle’s sandwich (none of which I can remember), your enthusiasm, your sense of wonder and awe! Yes. Right on. Freddie P. smiled faintly (high praise in her country).

It begins with the super crisp, light, delicate batter. Wow. And the meat — from the start, a juicy combo of both white and dark.

Hate to go all fact-check on you Julian, but the slaw is apple, sweeter and considerably drier than usual cabbage; combined with honey mustard (applied with care) to create a multiverse of harmonized tastes.

Halfway through, we agreed that the Monk’s Kettle fried chicken sandwich, if not quite divine, was also no joke.

We picked at the side of decent-but-unremarkable fries and swore we would devote our lives, like St. Julian, to spreading the gospel of the Kettle’s holy sandwich.

Then Freddie P. took another bite. She looked up quizzically and took another bite, chewed thoughtfully. Swallowed.

Silence. Had “something” kicked in? Like St. Julian, was she having a quasi-spiritual encounter?

“Soggy.” She said.

I bit into my own sandwich. I looked down at it. What had been a crunchy vision with a hint of apple honey and mustard, had turned suddenly, without warning, without explanation, into a soggy mess. Like the glop that assaults the gluttons in Dante’s third circle of Hell.

(Watch out, Donald!)

How had this happened? In the interval, when we had taken a break from our sandwiches to indulge in fries and conversation, our dreams of the divine fried chicken sandwich had been washed away. Rather than an enduring foundation, the sandwich was built on an ephemeral balance of tastes and textures.

“Carajo!” exclaimed Freddie P. She had discovered a new “ingredient” to the fried chicken sandwich previously unseen:


Not just at Monk’s Kettle. Time, in all its ineffability, is as present in any fried chicken sandwich as the chicken itself.

So if you don’t want to degrade the experience,  if you want to prolong the pleasure of the first bite, paradoxically, you can’t dawdle, can’t stop to savor. You don’t have to rush through it, but save the debates, discussions — and the fries — for after you’ve polished off the main course.

Given the quality, Monk’s Kettle may be as good as it gets, Time-wise.

But Julian, how can we be sure? Faith? As Freddie P., or S. Kierkegaard, once put it, faith is a crapshoot. We’ve only just begun to explore the Mission’s fried-chicken Paradise. Why stop now?

Next Up: Rhea’s Delicatessen.

Earlier sandwiches:

The fried chicken showdown begins at the Salumeria

The friend chicken showdown takes a detour to Wes Burger

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

Mark Rabine has lived in the Mission for over 40 years. "What a long strange trip it's been." He has maintained our Covid tracker through most of the pandemic, taking some breaks with his search for the Mission's best fried-chicken sandwich and now its best noodles. When the Warriors make the playoffs, he writes up his take on the games.