Cowboy Chicken, the popular Dallas-based chain known for its shredded chicken enchiladas and cornucopia of side dishes, has finally made its way westward, opening a branch in southwest Fort Worth near Hulen Mall.
The fast-casual restaurant subscribes to that old adage: “Do one thing, and do it well.”
From simple grilled chicken sandwiches to half-chicken plates to tacos, salads and soups, the star ingredient is usually minimally garnished and nearly always juicy. Matched with a substantial side, it makes for a satisfying no-frills meal.
The moment you exit your car in the Cowboy Chicken parking lot, you’re hit with the sweet aroma of hickory smoke. Inside, you can’t help but feast your eyes on a glassed-in wall of rotisserie chickens rotating on the barbie.
We went straight for the simple half chicken — $7.99 ($8.99 for all white meat) with two sides — and we were glad we did. The chicken’s slightly sweet and crispy skin proved a good foil to the creamier accompaniments: twice-baked potatoes and mac and cheese. We were a little disappointed to find the potatoes were simply the insides of the potato (and all its fixin’s) mashed together — no skin here. The mac and cheese was rich and gooey but similarly lacked the crispy home-style breadcrumb topping the dish can sometimes boast.
The “famous” chicken enchiladas were your standard-bearing chicken-stuffed tortillas (two enchiladas with one side, $6.39; three enchiladas with a side, $8.39). The velvety tomatillo-sour cream sauce combined with the shredded chicken made for a solid pairing. We were more enthused about the nicely seasoned side of black beans and the decadent rendition of creamed spinach.
The Cowboy taco ($6.99) offered a creative twist to the otherwise straightforward menu — a sort of flatbread sandwich of rotisserie chicken topped with barbecue sauce, black beans, corn, chopped grilled veggies and pico. The fluffy flatbread absorbed the extra sauce and the flavors came together nicely — extra props for the inclusion of zucchini.
Given the bounty of other choices here, a grilled chicken sandwich ($6.99) hardly qualifies as an unorthodox pick. But it struck the right, healthful note with its multigrain bun and lettuce and tomato toppings. The fries, however, were thick-cut, slightly undercooked and unremarkable.
The restaurant’s down-home motif extends to the friendly counter service. While our eyes glazed over at the list of more than 15 sides as we placed our order, the staff was happy to offer recommendations. The dining room decor carries an industrial vibe with exposed ductwork, and it gives way to Western-themed posters on the walls and country music on the sound system. A spacious patio in the back seems like a good choice when the weather’s nice.
Cowboy Chicken may be new to Fort Worth, but the restaurant, which has expanded to eight locations, has been serving wood-fire rotisserie-style chicken since 1981. In other words, this isn’t its first rodeo. And judging by the quality of the chicken, it won’t be the last, either.