Words by Kaylee Dugan
Photos by Nicholas Karlin
There is no shortage of good, fast casual spots in D.C. If anything, it could be argued that we’re reinventing the game. People can roll their eyes and say whatever they want about how that reflects on our boring work obsessed culture, but when it comes to grabbing lunch in this city, the options are truly staggering. The guys behind Farmbird know this.
Dan Koslow and Andrew Harris moved down from New York, a city that definitely isn’t lacking in fast casual fare, to try their hand at the industry. After spending some time at Union Kitchen and working on the build out for a year, Farmbird opens their doors to the masses today. Their missive is simple. So simple, that at first it seems pointless. They want to make healthy chicken that doesn’t suck.
I can feel your eyes rolling from the other side of the screen and I want you to know that I was skeptical too. Chicken is so ubiquitous (especially in the fast casual scene) that it’s essentially a filler protein. Most people (myself included) eating without thinking. Unless I’m going to The Coupe for a fried chicken sandwich, I’m almost never actively excited about chicken. It’s always fine. It’s almost never great.
And you know what? Farmbird really is great. Even without the accoutrements like pickled onion and crispy shallots, the chicken is moist and flavorful as hell. Of course, those editions certainly don’t hurt. Both the Barbecue Ranch bowl and Spicy Roasted Fresno bowl were winners in our eyes. The first features bbq sauce, buttermilk ranch, crispy shallots and tarragon while the other pairs their chicken with fresno pepper sauce, pickled red onions, crispy shallots and cilantro. If you’re looking for a mixture of sweet and savory, the Barbecue Ranch is probably your best bet. Our photographer Nicholas Karlin loved it, but if you like your food with spice, the Spicy Roasted Fresno is definitely the way to go. Unlike most fast casual meals, it had a serious kick to it. Regardless the chicken is great. I seriously cannot stop thinking about the chicken.
If you’re more of a sandwich person than a bowl person, don’t skip this spot. While their sandwich list is much smaller, the Spicy Adobo really shines. It’s a lot less spicy than their Fresno bowl, but it still has a little kick, and more importantly, it packs a lot of flavor. Expect sliced chicken breast paired with aji verde, pickled onions, tomatoes, braised onions and cilantro topped with a chipotle sauce all on a think hardy bread. It’s dense enough you could easily share it with another person or make two meals.
Of course, you don’t want to skip out on the sides. While it isn’t the healthiest option, I cannot recommend their mac & cheese enough. It’s cheesy as hell and topped with toasted bread crumbs which allows for the occasional satisfying crunch. The roasted Brussels sprouts are a good option if you want to feel like a person who makes good decisions, but don’t skip out on the corn and tomatillo salad. It’s bright and refreshing and is a great counter point to the spicier options on the menu.
Farmbird might not beat your favorite fried chicken sandwich, or replace your favorite Peruvian spot, but if you’re looking for an incredibly solid lunch (or dinner) that wont make you feel like you hate yourself, I really can’t think of a better spot. God damn that chicken was good.