The first time I ever went to Howlin Ray’s, I waited over 4 hours in line. That’s right. Just four hours.
As the founder of a fried chicken instagram and someone who despises lines, I get asked one question quite often: “Is Howlin Ray’s Worth the Wait?”
Then begins a series of questions by those who are both parts intrigued and skeptical of the Nashville hot chicken restaurant in the heart of LA’s Chinatown.
“WHY would you wait that long in line for fried chicken?”
“HOW GOOD could it be?”
“What do you DO in line for 3 hours?”
“Can’t you just place an order to-go?”
First, let’s talk about the food.
Howlin Ray’s is consistently outstanding. The all-natural chicken is perfectly marinated to the bone and full of flavor. Technique is key here.
The fry cooks have perfected their batter and frying technique so that the skin holds tightly onto the meat. At amateur establishments, there’s often an awkward gap in-between the skin and the chicken.
The result of Howlin Ray’s thought and care is hot chicken that is always juicy on the inside and very crispy but not overly crispy on the outside. As for the bun to chicken ratio on their “sando”, their signature chicken sandwich, it’s excellent.
And their chicken pieces are HUGE.
Now let’s talk about the experience.
A few months ago, I reached out to Howlin Ray’s and we emailed back and forth. They responded quickly each time.
The Howlin Crew’s energy is contagious and it’s evident that everyone who works there from the cooks to founders Johnny and Amanda really love what they do. You leave feeling pretty good and forget that you waited in that line!
How does the price compare?
It’s fair. The price is in line with competitors, if not cheaper than them due to the thick hearty pieces of chicken you get. Howlin Ray’s could easily raise the price knowing that hungry customers will line up anyway- but they don’t.
The Hype is REAL.
Howlin Ray’s has garnered 5,000+ reviews on yelp and an overall rating of 4.5 stars which has helped increase their hype.
The hype is so real that Chrissy Teigen regularly tweets about Howlin Ray’s.
As if that isn’t enough hype, an anonymous person even created a service through an Instagram account by the name of @thehowlinwaiter to let customers skip the line at Howlin Ray’s for a fee.
Nowadays, the Nashville hot chicken scene continues to thrive throughout Southern California and beyond with new hot chicken pop-ups launching left and right.
There are hot chicken restaurants around LA that have less than a 20 minute wait. And there are places that are merely a temporary fix that won’t satisfy your hot chicken cravings. While many hot chicken places exist in Southern California, an increasing number of entrepreneurs look to capitalize on the hype, which means more competition for Howlin Ray’s.
After waiting 4 hours my first time in line at Howlin Ray’s, I’ve been back a few times.
The times after that I’ve waited at most 2 hours which is due to strategically following their social media accounts to see how long the current wait time is. I’m downplaying the 2 hour wait as if it’s not that long, but it is, in the grand scheme of waiting in line for things and food, still absurd.
And yet- that age old question remains.
Is Howlin Ray’s Worth the 3 Hour Wait?
Well. You’re just gonna have to go and try it for yourself!