Fast Foodie: A new Popeyes on Howard Street

City Paper

Incredibly, being a Fast Foodie here in Baltimore can be difficult, especially because we don’t have a car. There’s a McDonald’s on North Avenue, one on Falls Road in Hampden, and a few downtown. A couple of joints, including another McDonald’s and a KFC, are clustered on Greenmount Avenue around the Abell neighborhood. Oh, and there’s a Burger King in Remington just before the on-ramp to the JFX. Otherwise, locating the more exotic franchises, such as a Wendy’s or an Arby’s, requires going further afield, out toward the county. And one must leave the confines of the city to find Sonic, the real Shangri-la of the all-American meal: hot dogs and burgers.

Sure, you’ll say, it’s better to have dining options that include things such as tables with tablecloths, fries cooked in duck fat, and mayonnaise that isn’t squirted out of a mayonnaise gun. But whither the soda fountain with its bountiful refills? Where are the three different sizes of french fries to choose from? What of the combo box that runs for $6? While the establishments listed above can satiate our needs, we crave more options. It’s what the U.S. is all about! Drive up York Road, from Towson to Hunt Valley, and you’ll be greeted with so many neon-lit beacons of the freedom of choice.

A few weeks ago, our prayers were answered when a new Popeyes, like a bright orange and red phoenix rising from the ashes, opened for business on North Howard Street, just above North Avenue. Chicken tenders and cajun fries! Biscuits! Po’boys! Jambalaya! Red beans and rice!

My God, those biscuits.

And they teased us—oh, how they teased us. Soon after a sign announced the pending reconstruction of a decrepit old building on Howard, Popeyes also put a countdown to the store’s opening for eager motorists and pedestrians to follow. The accuracy of the tally—there were several times it was stuck on one number—was suspect. But no matter, it’s finally here! Combos for all!

We decided to stop in for our inaugural visit—and rest assured, there will be more—while walking back from the City Paper offices the other week. Everything was in its right place, just as it’s drawn up at Popeyes HQ. The new staff was welcoming and prompt in preparing our three-piece chicken-tender combo with fries, a biscuit, and a drink ($7.41 after taxes). And it’s clear the cooks working behind the register are already aces at preparing food the Popeyes way.

Since our domicile is a half a mile or so up Howard, we’re especially lucky because we can easily walk to get the Louisiana-inspired fare, fast (not to mention, uh, work off some of the calories that come from injecting more Popeyes into our diet). Plenty of people in Remington will be buzzing about Clavel, the new Mexican restaurant opened by Lane Harlan. But based on the big crowd we saw, people are just excited about having an easily accessible place for some good fried chicken.

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