Even if Bakesale Betty in Oakland, California, didn't have such an amazing fried chicken sandwich, the place would still be insanely likable. The ironing boards in lieu of tables outside, the free cookies that somehow end up in your bag, the simple menu scribed onto white butcher paper, the scary long line that moves so fast, the owner Alison Barakat (who most customers just call Betty) and her color-rotating wig, oftentimes blue.
But then they have to serve a delicious, football-sized fried chicken sandwich, and move from likable to obsessively lovable. Almost as satisfying as the actual eating of this sandwich is watching the rushed yet scientifically precise assembly line of fried chicken sandwich-makers behind the glass.
One staffer is on fried chicken-slicing duty, cutting the crispy hunk of white breast meat at the belly. Beside that, there's a huge silver mixing bowl full of diced green cabbage, radish flecks, and jalapeños, ready for a vinaigrette shower and on the other side, a cookie sheet stacked with fresh rolls. Assembly happens quickly, and tightly, since there's not much counter space. They've got to keep up with orders especially since on weekends, the fried chicken sandwich typically sells out by noon.
What's so magical about bird between bread? Maybe it's the lack of predictable lettuce and tomato toppings, or the vinegar substitute for normal coleslaw glue. Maybe it's the wigs. Or the fact that Bakesale Betty also has lovingly-baked pies, molasses cookies and brownies, once the fried chicken sandwich ends in a sad, final bite.
5098 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland CA 94609 (map)