I live in Pittsburgh, and I’m obsessed with fried chicken.

Can you relate?

Grab a seat, friend. Let’s chat about Troy Beck and the ridiculous work he’s doing with Given to Fly.

First, though, let’s back up. We need to set some expectations.

This chicken is not served via drive-thru. There’s no physical restaurant. If I didn’t shake his hand, I wouldn’t be positive Troy Beck actually exists.

His name first popped up on my Twitter feed, with a mutual friend raving about his fried chicken sandwiches. This mutual friend tends to nail his food takes, so this caught my attention.

Obviously, I had to try it. But how?

You literally send Troy a DM. There, you place an order with Given to Fly and arrange a time/place to pick up. That’s it.

It’s a drug deal –– with chicken.

It’s goofy and I love it. That experience honestly makes the chicken even better to me. It’s so preposterous. It’s so unnecessary. It’s so … extra.

And it works.

God bless America, and God bless Given to Fly’s chicken.

Now, Troy announced Given to Fly will move into an actual, physical location around April. That will be a game-changer for the business, no doubt. For now, though, it’s one of the most unique food experiences you can get in Pittsburgh.

None of it would click if the chicken wasn’t good, though.

I’ve ordered from Given to Fly twice now, trying:

  • Nashville hot tenders
  • Buffalo tenders
  • Nashville hot sandwich
  • Korean BBQ sandwich
  • Nobu sandwich (sesame/eel sauce/jalapenos/spicy mayo … flavor profile reminds me of sushi)
  • Truffalo chicken sandwich (black-truffle-infused buffalo)
  • Hot Honey chicken biscuits
  • Cherry pepper mac salad
  • Yinzer as hell picnic Spaghetti salad

 

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The full menu is right here. Yes, I’ve basically tried the entire menu in just two orders.

That pretty much says it all, eh?

It’s no stretch for me to say my least favorite Given to Fly offering (the Truffalo chicken sandwich) would still be my favorite chicken sandwich of all time if I couldn’t include other items from them.

These are so far ahead of your fast-food KFC, Popeye’s, GetGo, Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-A, etc. sandwiches that it’s not even a fair fight.

Get into the more “high-end” and celebrated chicken sandwiches in the city –– Coop de Ville, Bird on the Run, Chikn, Cinderlands –– and it’s still a runaway.

Have I tried every chicken sandwich in Pittsburgh? No. Obviously not.

But I’ve tried each I just named, and the verdict is clear: Given To Fly reigns supreme.

So, what’s so damn good about it?

The chicken itself is everything you want: tender and juicy, with nearly perfect breading (more on this in a second).

Then, the spices and sauces take things to a new level.

These combinations crafted by Troy and executive chef Katie Peric are downright absurd. My favorites thus far are tied at the top: Nashville hot and Korean BBQ.

I’ve tried 400 Degrees and Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Nashville, and Given to Fly’s stands strong. Without trying them side by side, it’s impossible to declare a clear winner. But I would not be surprised if I picked Given to Fly’s out of a lineup. It is the ideal blend of sweet and spicy, and it’s addictive. The heat announces itself boldly, but once you get a nip, you can’t stop until the plate’s clean, fire be damned.

The Korean BBQ? I mean, have you tried Korean BBQ? It’s perfect, and Given to Fly nails what you expect from that style in every way.

These are just my personal favorites. There’s a strong chance you’ll fall in love with the hot honey biscuits or the Nobu or something else instead. But I can guarantee: You will fall in love with something.

troy-beck-given-to-fly-chicken-sandwich-cross-section-pittsburgh

Now, the part nobody likes…

The bad

I definitely consider Troy a badass dude and a friend, but that won’t stop me from offering a few critiques.

A trinity of negatives exists when discussing Given to Fly:

  1. The breading gets a little soggy and loses maximum crunch due to the delivery/transport/etc. involved.
  2. The cost is reasonable for what it is, but three sandwiches and an order of tenders will run you around $60 after a tip. It’s more than you’re likely used to paying for chicken.
  3. The pickup isn’t bad, but you can’t always meet at a perfect, central location. I’ve picked up ~45 minutes from my house both times, resulting in a 1.5-hour round trip for the chicken. This circles back and exacerbates Point No. 1.

For me, though, No. 1 up there is by far the most serious critique. Fried chicken’s gotta have that crunch, and it’s just hard to get it when the ordering situation is set up like this.

That said, there’s good news:

  1. The chicken reheats well in an air fryer, restoring some crunch.
  2. I already said it, but an actual storefront is coming soon. Getting this chicken fresh will elevate it to a new level, no doubt. I don’t even know what that level could be, but I’m excited to experience it.

The verdict

Does Given to Fly produce the best fried chicken in Pittsburgh?

Probably, man. Probably.

Calling anything “the best” always induces a shitstorm of controversy and counterpoints, so I’ll just say: It is easily the best fried chicken I’ve tasted in Pittsburgh. In fact, it’s the best chicken I’ve tasted anywhere.

Again, good Nashville Hot from the source in Tennessee competes in terms of taste, but the chicken itself from Given to Fly sits a notch above. That gives them the edge.

So, yeah, I drove 1.5 hours –– twice –– and spent $60 –– twice –– for fried chicken out of a dude’s trunk.

And I’ll do it again.