Street food, the informal cuisine of carts and stalls, is popular throughout the world, and different countries’ approaches to street food have become popular throughout the United States. When the street involved is a multi-lane arterial thoroughfare, though, the street part can sometimes get lost in translation. It’s therefore not uncommon to see street food adapted for service within an indoor retail space. That’s what has happened with Chick-A-Dee, a spot in Midtown that serves a Thai-Chinese approach to street food in a storefront restaurant location.

The Classic

Chick-A-Dee is situated on the south side of Thomas Road, just two blocks west of the Thomas/Central light rail station. A bike rack is found at the edge of the parking lot, which is shared with a nearby taco shop in the same plaza. The exterior doesn’t offer many clues as to the restaurant’s approach, other than the word “chick” in the restaurant’s kitschy name and a stylized image of a rooster over the entrance. Both the sign and the symbol are obvious references to chicken, the meat which is the essence of the restaurant’s signature dish.

On Diet

Chick-A-Dee’s speciality is khao man gai, a Thai adaptation of a southern Chinese dish otherwise known as Hainanese chicken rice. It’s common street fare throughout southeast Asia, and it’s a departure from most Thai food served in local restaurants. Instead of chicken simmered in a curry sauce or stir-fried in a wok with herbs, this dish involves poached poultry served with a mound of seasoned rice, a cup of chicken broth, and a few slices of cucumber and sprigs of cilantro. The flavors are then combined at the table rather than in the kitchen.

crispy chicken

Those flavors lean most heavily toward garlic and ginger with little of the chili heat often associated with Thai food. There are side sauces for use in dipping chicken or moistening rice. Of the four offered, three are quite sweet, but the Thai original is more balanced and a clear favorite for customers who want a savory dish. In terms of the chicken meat, there are several different configurations of different types of meat and rice served in tandem. A dish called “The Classic” is all dark meat, but there’s another option for all breast and a mixed option as well.

Clucket and purple rice

While white rice is the default, purple rice is another option and is part of a dish called “On Diet.” While the calories counts of the types of rice are not significantly different, purple rice has a higher fiber content and levels of antioxidants that may make it appealing to some dietary preferences. Health concerns aside, purple rice has a nuttiness that makes it satisfying, especially when paired with the muted taste of chicken. For those who wish to skip grains altogether, a variant called “No Carbs” forgoes rice entirely in favor of chicken over a salad.

pot stickers and garlic rice

All of the chicken-and-rice entrees are served wrapped in paper, even if eaten on site, in a nod to the dish’s street food origins. The covering retains the heat and moisture of the dish until it’s ready to be eaten. Besides poached light and dark meat, Chick-A-Dee also serves boneless, lightly breaded fried chicken, either sliced as part of a crispy chicken entree or in smaller “Clucket” nuggets, a play on the Thai beach destination of Phuket. Chicken also finds its way into the interior of pot stickers, and wings with a spicy, salty dry rub complete the choices.

chicken and rice soup

A recent menu addition is a chicken-and-rice soup, which combines everything the restaurant does well into a single bowl. The one non-chicken choice is a soy-based vegan meat analog. That option makes sense since Chick-A-Dee is under the same ownership of the Vegan House, a downtown restaurant that specializes in Thai food adapted with meat substitutes. The sole dessert is “FBI,” or fried banana with ice cream. Two bananas are encased in spring roll wrappers, deep fried, and then served with coconut ice cream studded with bits of ginger.


As sweet as this dessert is, its sugar content is probably exceeded by the iced tea and boba drinks sold here. Other choices included canned sodas and bottled water. There is no liquor license, and the emphasis is clearly on quick meals and takeout rather than leisurely dining. Still, this type of chicken with rice is a better choice in terms of taste and nutrition than most of the fast food options nearby. Even with a location that’s set back and insulated from the busy street in front of it, Chick-A-Dee serves street food in a way that makes sense in Midtown.

49 W. Thomas Rd., Phoenix AZ 85013