SAN DIEGO – Attention lovers of fried chicken! Internet personality Sam the Cooking Guy’s new joint for finger-lickin’ goodness has just arrived at the Little Italy Food Hall.
Called CooCoo’s Nest, the new spot, in partnership with the Grain & Grit Collective, is dedicated entirely to fried chicken sandwiches – from the signature southern-style to unique takes on the classic flavor.
Sam Zien’s 70s-inspired sandwich spot is the fourth to join the lineup of other spots in the Little Italy piazza and Food Hall by the Emmy-winning cook, including Not Not Tacos, Graze and Samburgers.
“We liked the idea of expanding our presence there a little bit,” Zien told FOX5SanDiego.com of the decision to open the new stand in the Food Hall. “When we started to get a sense that one of the places might go out, our thinking kicked into high gear.”
A few weeks ago, the Cooking Guy was able to move into the new spot, opening to the public earlier this week.
For this new spot, Zien turned to fried chicken sandwiches as the perfect comfort food to compliment his growing collection of “middle of the room,” “every guy” offerings – or food choices that appeal to a wide array of people.
To figure that out, he largely looked to what cooking videos were popular on his YouTube channel, adapting those recipes to an easily-reproducible menu with culinary director Gavin Mills.
One of the first ones they worked on – now, a signature dish – was Zien’s Korean Fried Chicken, or KFC, sandwich, a spicy-yet-sweet combination of flavors using a gochujang honey glaze, ambal aioli, kimchi slaw and pickles on a brioche bun.
Other creations that the two settled on include crispy chicken sandwiches using mac & cheese, fried eggs and Calabrian chili. Chicken tenders, biscuits and salads round out the CooCoo’s Nest menu.
“The idea that we get to spread out a little bit more and now have three concepts in the food hall… It’s exciting and fun,” Zien said of what CooCoo’s Nest is bringing to the table.
The Cooking Guy has been a staple in the food community for decades, after moving to the city about 35 years ago. Since he opened Not Not Tacos in 2018, Little Italy has been his home base for new eateries.
“It became home really quickly… I feel like I’m really part of the food community here,” Zien said. “We love where we are in Little Italy. We think (it’s) the restaurant hub – for the most part – in San Diego… We like being a part of the diversity.”
So for anyone headed downtown for some good eats, be sure to check out Sam the Cooking Guy’s latest hub for grub. More information on the menu or to order online visit the Little Italy Food Hall website.
CooCoo’s Nest is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., located in the Little Italy Food Hall on 550 West Date Street.