I love Ranch 1. I wrote about it a few weeks ago, and while I know not everyone is on board- I stand behind what I originally said. If you are looking for a grilled chicken sandwich, that tastes like real chicken, and french fries that taste like they are made from real potatoes (plus you don’t mind a chicken breast that has been pounded thin before being grilled) then Ranch 1 is your place. It’s one of the few fast food places my wife actually likes (loves is a more appropriate word)- and any place she’s into, where I can “get fries with that”, is alright with me! (Click here to read the original Ranch 1 post)
So, you can imagine my confusion when I started seeing these new Chicken Bar’s popping up. The first one, I saw on 8th Ave. and 45th St…. and then another on 52nd and Lexington. Same colors… similar logo… it’s chicken. Very strange. I couldn’t believe that this new chain was clearly ripping off Ranch 1. Did they really think that their chicken sandwich was going to be that much better to support 2 chicken chains like this in the city??? I decided a visit was in order, and last week I headed to this “Chicken Bar” with every intention of pitting it against Ranch1 in a “one on one” fast food chicken battle of death. (I would have liked to have made it a 3 man battle royale, but sadly there is no Chick Fil-A in Midtown…)
Arriving at the Chicken Bar on Lexington & 52nd, I was reminded again of how similar the logos are to each other. Both have got the yellow, red and white thing going… but the Chicken Bar sign is clearly newer- and a bit nicer. I like the abstract, “hidden” chicken head in the Ranch1 logo, over the obvious big chicken in the Chicken Bar logo, but a vinyl awning can’t touch the class of a 3-D neon style sign. Chicken Bar 1, Ranch1 Zero.
Both places have “employees” giving out $1 off coupons around the corner from their respective restaurants. I think it’s pretty obvious who wins this one. No offense to the lady on the right… I’m sure she cleans up real nice- but she is clearly not a gigantic yellow chicken. Ranch 1 ties it up… One to One.
The truth is, who cares about the coupons, and the signs and the big yellow chicken (well, actually- I care about the chicken so that’s a bad example). The food is the most important. What I ordered, and conclusion of the fierce battle that will literally cause your brain to explode in disbelief…. after the jump.
Walking into Chicken Bar, it became clear that something was going on here. Not only was the menu practically identical to Ranch1, but they even had a sign with the exact same slogan… “Best Grilled Chicken on Earth”. Total craziness. I ordered the “Bar Original” which was the same price ($6.25) as the “Ranch 1 Classic” and came topped with a bed of greens, AND toasted almonds!!! How could they steal the toasted almonds???? It’s the Ranch 1 chicken sandwich signature move. It would be like Andre the Giant beating Hulk Hogan with the… signature move that Hulk Hogan used to do. (What was the Hulkster’s signature move? I remember he just shook his head “No”, like in a “You’re not going to beat me” kind of way… and then just body slammed the guy. Was that his signature move?)
And then it dawned on me… and the cashier confirmed it. Ranch 1. And Chicken Bar. Are the same place. That’s right.
Oh, I’m sorry… did I just blow your mind???
I’m not sure exactly why… but Ranch 1 has opened four locations, re-branded as Chicken Bar. So, it turns out the epic battle, is actually a draw… but there are a few differences that might make one better then the other for some people:
- The Chicken Bar locations are newer and nicer. The one on 52nd btw. Lex & 3rd has a nice, large seating area, unlike the Ranch 1 on 46th St. that shares space with a deli.
- Even though the Bar Original Combo and the Ranch 1 Classic Combo are the same price ($6.25), a lot of the other combos on the Chicken Bar menu are slightly more expensive (by about 25 cents) then Ranch 1. Strangely, the Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowl Combo from Ranch 1, has been re-branded Dragon Chicken Teriyaki at Chicken Bar, and costs 20 cents less! Very strange.
- The Chicken and Cheese Combo at Ranch 1 is called the All-American Classic at Chicken Bar. I guess they don’t want to remind people that they are eating cheese?
- And the strangest change… the Chicken Philly Combo at Ranch 1, is now the Vivo Italiano at Chicken Bar. Both come with Mozzarella, sauteed peppers and sauteed onions. I guess people like Italy better then Philadelphia.
- There’s no Popcorn Chicken at Chicken Bar, but they have Buffalo Wings (Ranch 1 doesn’t).
- The French fries at Chicken Bar are a little thinner than Ranch 1 (like regular shoestrings) but they still taste like they come from real potatoes (and are sprinkled with a salty form of crack).
- And for some reason, they don’t have a big yellow chicken handing out their coupons. (Big mistake)
So there you have it… Ranch 1 and Chicken Bar are the same place. If you knew all along, then I apologize… I’m just not that bright. To read more about Ranch 1 (and by default, the Chicken Bar) check out the original Ranch 1 post.
Chicken Bar, Multiple Locations in Midtown
- 599 Lexingon Ave. (52nd btw. Lexington & 3rd), 212-230-1100
- 717 8th Ave. (btw. 45th & 46th), 212-245-5111
There are also 2 non-midtown locations
- 1273 1st Ave (at 69th St.) 212-734-0077
- 40-42 West 8th St. (at 6th Ave.) 212-358-1111