Restaurant of the Week: Clyde’s Hot Chicken

Clyde’s Hot Chicken, 8790 Central Ave. (at Richton), Montclair; open daily 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Clyde’s opened in a former Fatburger just above the Metrolink tracks in Montclair in October 2019 and almost immediately was doing more business in a day than Fatburger was likely to have done in a month. (I like Fatburger but it just has not been able to get its act together in the 909.) This is the second Clyde’s; the first is in Fullerton.

My first visit was at 3 p.m. on a Sunday, when there were a surprising number of customers for the middle of an afternoon. Several groups entered after me. Employees shouted “Welcome!” at each of us.

The menu has chicken sandwiches, fried or grilled, chicken strips and hot wings, all in the Nashville hot chicken style. Heat levels are Naked (no spice), Original (hot and sweet), Hot as Cluck (hot) and 1930 (ghost pepper and cayenne).

I got the Clyde’s Original combo ($9) with the Original heat level, which is very mildly spiced. The chicken comes on a brioche bun with slaw and pickles, just how I like it, and the combo has crinkle-cut fries, nice and crisp, and a soda. Darned good. There’s a cup of completely unnecessary sauce, although I do dip my fries in it.

On two subsequent visits, I got the Skinny Chick combo (same price), with the chicken grilled, not fried. Also tasty, and better for you, but without the satisfying crunch. I also tried the mac salad as my side once, and that was fine too. Other sides are waffles and slaw, and they make a breakfast sandwich, the Early Bird. I should try the Hot as Cluck spice level, just to try it, but I’m no spice fiend.

(Subsequent to writing this post, I ordered a Skinny Chick and asked for the Hot spice level, but that sandwich is only available as Naked or Original.)

Being on the border of Montclair and Upland, but definitely within Montclair, there’s decor for each city using historic photos. Montclair is, alas, relegated to the back, by the restrooms and kitchen entrance. Vintage photos include two drive-ins, the interior of Montclair Plaza and an ad urging then-Monte Vista residents to vote for the name change to Montclair. Spoiler alert: It did.

Upland images are in the dining room and include the depot, the trolley and the old Upland College. Clyde’s also has a patio and a drive-thru.

Clyde’s is a nice addition to Montclair and I’m pleased they were able to clean the stink of failure from that building. Maybe they had it ritually cleansed with sage. Or cayenne.

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