Chick-fil-A, the Atlanta-based purveyor of chicken-breast sandwiches, is the second largest chicken-centric fast-food operation in the country, and yet there is only one branch in New York — and it doesn’t even really count. Opened three years ago to little foodie fanfare, the local outpost is ensconced between Quizno’s and JW’s Grille in the food court of NYU’s Joe Weinstein Center (5-11 University Pl., nr. 8th St.), and as such it’s been a well-kept undergrad secret.
Even though many years have passed since the UG was on a meal plan, the lure of the fried-chicken sandwich was enough to convince him to don a knapsack and go back to school, if only for lunch. And despite concerns about sticking out in a crowd of coeds or being arrested, he breezed in the other day unaccosted by security guards and RA’s. At the Chick-fil-A Express counter, the sandwiches are wrapped and kept warm under a heat lamp, beside cardboard containers of waffle fries and chicken nuggets. In spite of its prefabrication, the signature sandwich, at $2.69, is deliriously good in a heavily seasoned monosodium-glutamate kind of way — the oversize chicken breast lightly breaded and spilling out of its soft bun. It’s served with two pickle slices; optional lettuce and tomato; and condiment packets of mayo, mustard, or honey. The UG gobbled it down with some waffle fries in the skylit cafeteria in about five minutes flat, which seemed to be the going rate among the hoodie-wearing, iPod-wired coeds. — Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld