Story and Photos by Cat Flores
Fusion restaurants have taken on the challenge of putting original spins on beloved classics — often combining two foods for an unexpected match. At The Crack Shack, chicken dishes are transformed into the lighthearted and sunny spirit of innovative cuisine. The Crack Shack delivers a homey, yet modern feeling to its guests, in contrast to many of the restaurants in Old Town, which are mainly upscale and expensive.
The outside of The Crack Shack displays a neon sign of an egg; this feeling of cheerfulness continues inside the restaurant, where customers are immediately greeted by a larger-than-life plastic chicken. The interior resembles a barn, complete with picnic tables, a multitude of jumbo screens along the wall, and an open bar sitting across from a playpen for kids. While the restaurant is charming inside and out, the food fails to deliver the same unique qualities.
The chicken is prepared in several ways — whether it be barbequed, fried, or simply marinated and shredded — and primarily comes in the forms of sandwiches and salads. While the chicken is excellently prepared, the piling of unnecessary sauces and add-ons overpower the star ingredient. These additions drown the natural taste of a number of dishes, and prevent The Crack Shack from creating a balanced dish.
The sandwich Cali Dip ($12), a take on the classic French dip, is an innovative idea with a California twist. But stuffed with pollo asado, fries, guacamole, red onion, jalapenos, mayo, bolillo, and pozole, the Cali Dip ends as a saucey avocado mess. The Baja Chop salad ($9) continued the restaurant’s unfortunate habit of over-complicating dishes. Composed of guacamole, various greens, radish, cotija, charred poblano vinegar, and a flurry of sophisticated, clashing flavors, the salad was overpowered by the taste of too much guac and vinegar. Although there is a limited menu, The Crack Shack offers dishes that incorporate a multitude of flavors and techniques from deviled eggs to fried chicken plates. This range of flavors showcases The Crack Shack’s originality and inventiveness, although the execution might be lacking.
Located in Old Town near Green Street and Fair Oaks Avenue, The Crack Shack is positioned in a popular and busy area where parking is limited. However, the restaurant is easily accessible by public transport. Although the line to enter is long, a self-ordering counter proves to be efficient, as there shouldn’t be a wait of more than 10 minutes between ordering and receiving food.
The portions were adequate and filling, yet the meal was not satisfying. With the modern design of The Crack Shack, its inflated prices, and its strategic location in a popular area to dine, the quality of the food should be better. The delivery of the chicken in every dish was exceptional, but The Crack Shack failed to compliment the star ingredient.