South City Fried Chicken: Love Letters to the South
“Here’s the thing – I grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I grew up with fried chicken. Like, we would f**king sneak off campus in high school to get good fried chicken for lunch. I just – I love fried chicken.”
Chef Sam is a dope guy. And he knows how to enjoy himself. Executive chef and co-owner of Preux & Proper alongside entrepreneur and restaurateur Joshua Kopel - Sammy Monsour (officially) just opened South City Fried Chicken - a fast-casual eatery located inside the Corporation Food Hall in DTLA.
One step inside the food hall, it’s hard to miss the bustling kitchen bumping hip-hop and churning out the most incredible, jaw-dropping creations. Converse hang above the counter stamped with the words “Fried Chicken” and vintage pop sodas chill in an ice bath.
Chef Sam offers eight completely different styles of fried chicken sandwiches that each represent a different city in the South. New Orleans, Austin, Nashville, Louisville, Greenville, Birmingham, Miami, and of course, Chapel Hill. Forget your assumptions - each of these offer an unconventional combination of ingredients you’d never expect. Yet, somehow the flavors strike some sort of memory and a deep, satisfying comfort.
In fact, these flavors are memories. These sandwiches are an homage to each city. These are the team’s love letters, telling the story of why they love Nashville, what New Orleans means to them, or the inspiration they took away from Miami. Take the New Orlean’s, for example - a mixture of classic New Orleans ingredients like cajun spice, a homemade hot sauce, Thai basil, and a fried egg. “So it has like this structure of New Orleans, but then I f**k with it,” he explains.
Then take his personal favorite, the Austin. “It’s just the most different than anything I think I’ve ever had…Like, when have you ever had burrata with red bean hummus? Heirloom corn tortilla crumble? Some cilantro and heirloom tomato?”
Keep in mind, all this is coming out of a tiny corner kitchen with a team working off a single six-foot stainless steel table.
South City is much more than an eatery or a business venture. Quite simply, it’s the heart of who chef Sam is. It’s his childhood. It’s a manifestation of the memories he created and cherished with his friends, his family, and his team of chefs. The Pop’s Slaw? That’s his pop’s slaw. The pimento cheese? Made by his sister Jenny in Chapel Hill. The hot sauce? That’s his sous chef’s aunt’s hot sauce. The red bean hummus? Inspired by his grandmother’s weekly Sunday suppers.
“Our whole thing here is heirloom family recipes. I’ve asked my family to share their recipes. And I’ve asked my chefs to bring in their family recipes.”
The fried chicken sandwich has definitely attained a level of glory in recent years with pop-ups, trucks and fast-casual joints popping up left and right - and each has something unique of its own to offer. But few, so few, if any, are bringing a multitude of flavors, inspirations, and genuine family recipes all together in one small, but powerful kitchen.
Written by SRP | Photography by Rebekah Lemire