This post is Part IV of the larger mini-series titled “A California Christmas.” The posts in this series include: Part I: Ten Ren Tea Station, Part II: Din Tai Fung, Part III: Sushi Gen, Part IV: Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Restaurant, and Part V: Melisse.
Knotts Berry Farm is a theme park not far from Disneyland. Looking at it today, it looks like many other theme parks across America. The park is filled with characters from the Peanuts gang, wild roller coaster rides, and various other rides.
Guess what? This little fried chicken restaurant is what started this entire theme park.
I won’t go into a detailed history here, but here’s a super brief synopsis. The Knotts family were berry farmers, and Mr. Knotts had just started selling a new berry created by a man by the name of Rudolph Boysen. The Knotts family bought a plot of land in Southern California and created a berry farm. Mrs. Knotts set up a tea house there, and one day was frying up some chicken for dinner when a tea guest commented on how delicious it smelled and whether it was for sale.
The Knotts decided to temporarily sell fried chicken to make ends meet (it was the Depression, after all). However, the fried chicken became so popular people just kept coming back for more. Mrs. Knotts kept insisting she wasn’t in the restaurant business, but the people loved the chicken, and the lines grew and grew and grew. Eventually, Mr. Knotts started building some rides to entertain the people while they were waiting in line for the fried chicken. And that is how Knotts Berry Farm (the theme park) began.
Of course, with all that hype, I was really curious how the fried chicken would taste, since to this day the lines are still super long. This is why I have never gone before – I never wanted to wait so long in line.
Amazingly, this past Christmas Eve, our party of 14 was seated immediately. No line! Note to self: Knotts Berry Farm is a great place to come on Christmas Eve. None of the rides have a wait, and you can go into the Fried Chicken restaurant without a wait at 12:30PM for lunch!
The wait staff are dressed up in traditional gingham outfits, maybe as part of the thematic experience. We started out with some nice hot rolls, which were delicious! Reminiscent of monkey bread, they were very warm, soft, and tasted great with butter.
The fried chicken was good. I know fried chicken is all the craze right now, and every celebrity chef seems to want to offer his or her own version of fried chicken. This fried chicken is not fancy nor expensive. It’s just good, solid fried chicken. Crunchy on the outside, nicely flavored, and moist meat on the inside. I can definitely see why it was so popular decades ago when Mrs. Knotts first started making it. Definitely order fried chicken if you come here!
And if you go, you have to get the boysenberry pie – more for historical nostalgic reasons than pure taste. As I mentioned earlier, the Knotts’ family started out as berry farmers, and this was the berry that Mr. Knotts had invented. Definitely try the pie – it’s good.
Over all impressions?
The fried chicken is definitely good, though by far not the best I’ve ever had. At this point, I think the hype surrounding the restaurant is more historical and nostalgia than purely the quality of the food itself. The story itself is really cute, and it’s kind of fun to eat in this restaurant knowing that history. It’s worth visiting once, especially if you can avoid waiting in line. Having said all that, I don’t think I would be willing to wait in a long line just for the food. In this day and age, there’s plenty of delicious fried chicken to be had.
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