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Kowbird, a “soul-infused, family-owned fried chicken joint” from Chef Matt Horn, is now open in Oakland, according to a press release. The restaurant’s first day was Friday, January 14, 2022.
The second concept under the Horn Hospitality Group umbrella, following his first brick-and-mortar restaurant Horn Barbecue, Kowbird pays homage to the Southern comfort food Horn enjoyed with his family as a child.
“For me, fried chicken represents soul and love,” Horn said in the release. “Growing up, it was a dish that would bring my family together. Whether after church or in the backyard with friends, it was always centered around love. To open a fried chicken concept in my home of Oakland is personal to me, it bridges family, love, soul, and good food.”
Situated in the former Pretty Lady diner space, at 1733 Peralta St., the design of Kowbird pays tribute to both the foodways of the South and the storied history of space. Horn maintained original elements throughout, from the classic U-shaped counter from the 1940s to the funky green tiles in the kitchen, while adding murals and images of Black farmers in the South — an homage to Horn’s family roots.
With a nod to the classic diner, guests are encouraged to order at the register and enjoy their meal indoors around the counter, take their meal to go or enjoy in Kowbird’s outdoor seating space.
Horn keeps the menu at Kowbird straightforward, bringing his renowned commitment to excellence to fried chicken, and putting his touch on featured dishes from his childhood.
The menu features Matt Horn’s signature buttermilk fried chicken in various versions, all served on a potato bun and accompanied by house-made pickles. Variations include the traditional Southern Bird, the Honey Bird, finished in a pickled mustard seed-honey sauce, the Early Bird, featuring chicken thighs, Southern-style gravy, and a fried egg, and finally, the Hot Bird, finished and dusted with dried, fermented chilis, which Horn describes as “hot, but not unbearable.”
Non-meat-eaters need not fear the chicken; Horn has created an Oyster Mushroom Vegan Sandwich, made with crispy fried oyster mushrooms with special seasonings, a plant-based “aioli” and carrot slaw.
Beyond the bun, the Kowbird menu will include a Chicken & Buckwheat Waffle offering, featuring original or hot chicken served with a puffed buckwheat waffle and topped with honey butter, a Wings & Fries plate, and, on Sundays, a specialty Fried Catfish Sandwich, original or Nashville Hot.
Side dishes bring together classic comforts and Southern indulgences, including Fried Cabbage with Country Bacon, a fresh Chicory Slaw with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette & Citrus (v), a creamy white Mac & Cheese made with Havarti, Provolone and Gouda, dusted with crispy dehydrated chicken skins, Fried Gizzards, and Steak Fries.
For dessert, bite into a Candy Apple or Salted Caramel Apple w/ Peanuts, or opt for a classic slice of Pecan Pie. The menu is rounded out with house-made lemonade and sweet tea, with beer, root beer, and cream soda all on tap.
Taking his commitment to quality and flavor one step further, Horn is also working on setting up his own apiary at the restaurant, bringing in Bay Area bees to source the restaurant’s own honey.