Baba’s Hot Chicken Expands To New Location On University Avenue In Hillcrest

New restaurant Baba’s Hot Chicken has opened at 406 University Avenue in Hillcrest, adding an already-popular fast casual concept to San Diego’s growing hot chicken scene and giving locals a new way to experience one of this year’s biggest culinary trends. This is the first San Diego outpost for Baba’s Hot Chicken, an independent brand that began as a small yet sought-after pop-up concept and has today grown to three locations in the Southern California region.

On the menu

On the menu, the signature Baba’s Hot Sandwich and Mini Baba are layered with fried chicken tenders, slaw, pickles and house sauce with more add-ons available. For something different,

Baba’s Loaded Fries are topped with chopped chicken, cheese, house sauce, ranch and slaw – or guests can opt for classic Baba’s Hot Tenders on white bread. Southern-influenced sides include Mac & Cheese and Fried Pickles, and off-menu specials give guests the option to replace sandwich buns with grilled cheeses or add a hefty serving of mac & cheese onto a hot chicken sandwich. Throughout its menu, Baba’s Hot Chicken uses halal, hormone-free chicken and a few imported, proprietary spices for a distinct flavor profile.

How the special menu came to be

“We researched in depth how Nashville makes its hot chicken, not just the seasoning but the entire process. Then, we added a little twist with spices you won’t experience at other hot chicken places,” said founder Mahmoud “Mike” Hemood. “I love the loaded fries,
but if it’s your first time get the chicken sandwich.”

Hemood is a fried chicken enthusiast with a true rags-to-riches story. Born in Iraq in the 1990s, his family lived in Jordan as refugees and endured poverty for several years. As a child he dreamed of tasting fried chicken, but never did as it was too expensive; instead, family meals involved more affordable staples like eggs, rice and spaghetti. At age ten Hemood moved to California, living in several cities but always visiting San Diego a half-dozen times each year, in large part due to El Cajon’s well-known Iraqi cuisine.

“When we came to the United States we started eating nicer things; for example, I didn’t taste shrimp until I was twelve years old,” said Hemood. “I had always wanted to try fried chicken, but my parents never had the opportunity to take us to KFC because they
couldn’t afford it. But when we came to the states my dad took me to Popeye’s and I became hooked on fried chicken.”

Later, as a university student studying accounting, Hemood developed an at-home hot chicken recipe that he began making for friends; it was so well received that he bought an $80 fryer off Amazon and began a Baba’s Hot Chicken pop-up while still in school. Within nine months, he had opened the first permanent Baba’s Hot Chicken within the Riverside Food Lab, followed by a location in Costa Mesa and then Hillcrest, with plans for additional San Diego locations on the way. As Baba’s Hot Chicken expands, he remains committed to giving back to those in need.

“We’re huge on helping the less fortunate. That’s been our biggest thing since we started Baba’s,” said Hemood. “Even before we became brick and mortar we would donate a lot to orphanages, especially internationally as that money goes a long way.”

Baba’s Hot Chicken Expands To New Location On University Avenue In Hillcrest

Baba’s Hot Chicken is open daily from 11AM to 11PM and currently offers takeout through online ordering and via phone at (619) 600-0080. Learn more and order here and follow alongside Baba’s more than 51K Instagram fans.

See you there….and stay healthy, San Diego!

The Latest

San Diego Loyal 2022 Fan Appreciation Day Presented By Rocket League Set For Sunday, October 9

SD Loyal Soccer Club announced today its 2022 Fan Appreciation Day, presented by Rocket League, set for Sunday, October 9 at Torero Stadium when the club…

Batter Up! InterContinental San Diego Hosts Home Runs For Homelessness

The InterContinental Hotel San Diego, in partnership with The San Diego Harbor Police Foundation, is hosting Home Runs for Homelessness on Saturday, October 22 to…

City Tacos Sells Three Millionth Taco

City Tacos, a Mexican eatery founded by Gerry Torres in North Park in 2014, last week surpassed three million tacos sold in San Diego County. The…

Fun Goes All Day At Pacific Beachfest

Come see what all the excitement is about. Pacific Beachfest is San Diego’s premier beach festival located in the heart of beach town: Pacific Beach. View this post on…

Collaborative Outdoor Venue, The Gärten, To Open In Bay Park In October

San Diego’s growing demand for outdoor venues and adventurous drinking and dining options will soon be met with the opening of The Gärten, an expansive…