ELV loves Popeye’s. He’s always loved it. He really loves the crunchy/spicy fried chicken and the buttery biscuits. The red beans and rice aren’t bad either — even if the smokey pork flavor is artificially-imbued….as we suspect it is.
ELV loves the fact that the chicken is always exceedingly moist, the skin plenty crispy, and the texture always reminiscent of deep-fried, reddish/orange cornflakes. He even forgives them for dialing back the pepper over the years, and still marvels at how they keep it so juicy and (relatively) un-greasy.
In a recent New York Times editorial, Frank Bruni properly chastises elitists who decry fast food (or Paula Deen’s fried chicken) whilst slavishing over a David Chang’s (or Thomas Keller’s) creation of the same thing. ELV cares not to enter that foodie fray, other than to footnote that Popeye’s frequented fried fowl fabulousness never fluctuates.
Popeye’s (at least the one we go to on North Rancho/West Bonanza) is exciting for other reasons as well. It shares a parking lot with a gas station/car wash (very convenient for multi-tasking), and Larry’s Villa is right next door, ready to entertain you with “some of the most experienced girls(?) in the business” – should you need other things tasked as well. ELV hasn’t actually been inside Larry’s since 1994, but he takes comfort in knowing some of the same gals are probably there to delight you with their charms.
The other thing ELV loves about his Popeye’s is he’s always the only white guy in the place. Over twenty years, (and numerous visits) the routine has always been the same: The door swings open, he steps in, pauses, and surveys the scene. As he bounces up to the counter, he suddenly realizes the whole joint has come to a stop — like one of those westerns where a gringo walks into a seedy Mexican bar, the mariachis stop playing, and the look on everyone’s face says: “What are you doing in here, muchacho?” (Best spoken in a bad Gold Hat/Eli Wallach Mexican accent.) He then orders and gets his chicken from an always smiling person who seems genuinely surprised that a well-fed white guy in a business suit is so eager to dive into a big order.
But that’s just the way ELV likes it: crispy chicken, cross-culturally consumed, along with succulence as well-seasoned as his strippers.
Our 8-piece dinner with an extra side and a large drink came to $18…and ELV was in yard-bird heaven for two days.
POPEYE’S CHICKEN & BISCUITS
2421 West Bonanza Road
Las Vegas, NV 89107