A cult favorite fried-chicken restaurant in Dallas has very-quietly opened a second location: Mike's Chicken, which has been serving raved-over fried chicken from a laundromat on Maple Avenue for more than six years, opened a second location in North Dallas, spreading its wings and things to areas north, east, and west.
The new location is at 7752 Forest Ln., in a little strip center at US-75, across from Medical City, in the former Taco Y Mas space.
According to Han Dao, whose parents Son Dao and Tram Dao founded Mike's, they're doing a very soft opening, with hours from 10:30 am-3 pm.
It's a charming story in which Son and Tram immigrated from Vietnam to the U.S. after being transferred by Son's employer. They first settled in Minnesota, then moved to Texas, whereupon they opened the original Mike's inside a laundromat they owned — a location that has surely contributed to its hidden-find mystique.
Fried chicken has become a major trend in recent years but Mike's stands out from the rest in that it's not a fast-food concept. They make everything from scratch, hand-cut the chicken daily, and only start the process of cooking — right down to battering the chicken — after they receive your order.
A minimum 20-minute wait is typical, and at the new location, where they're still getting their bearings, waits on the first day ran 30 minutes or more.
The chicken has a distinctive spice blend that includes sage, turmeric, lemon, and ghost peppers. Everything is cooked in 100 percent refined peanut oil.
They offer tenders as well as a half chicken, plus combos such as white meat with breast & wing, or dark meat with leg & thigh. You can get them by the piece or in a plate with a side and choice of biscuit or Texas toast.
Sides include coleslaw, creamy corn, mashed potatoes, French fries, green beans, baked beans, or fruit salad.
You can also get a fried chicken sandwich, wings, or tenders, all served as a meal with French fries; and a crispy chicken salad, with spring mix, cherry tomato, and onion, topped with chicken tenders.
The biscuits are serious: tall cylinders, fluffy yet dense, brushed with a honey glaze. Desserts include churros with vanilla filling.
A graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, Han says that expansion was inevitable, due to the growing following they've developed and the space limitations of their original location — an expansion that persuaded her to leave her previous career in retail and help her parents grow the business.
"The original Mike's is very small," she says. "The new location is at least four times bigger."
"Another plus with the location on Forest Lane is that it's centrally located," she says. "We've had so many customers coming from Plano and Richardson, and this new location is convenient to both US-75 and 635, with the Tollway only five minutes away."
They've tweaked a few recipes including the mashed potatoes and mac & cheese, and they're also more focused on being eco-friendly, Han says, ditching the styrofoam they've traditionally used at the Maple location.
"We also changed our approach slightly from doing two smaller-size sides with the chicken, to just one side that's bigger, in order to make it more manageable — we're expecting larger crowds," she says.
Prices are still cheap, hovering at around $11 for a plate with chicken, side, and biscuit.
"My mom create all the recipes, and my dad joined in a year later when she first opened — they've created something special," Han says.
There's only one thing missing: the laundromat. Or as one regular quipped, "Will there be a laundromat next door? It will be weird to not smell clean clothes and fried chicken while I wait for my order."