The summer heat has finally taken up its seasonal residence. Stiflingly hot days sap the energy of even the most frenetic beings. The many hours of sunlight invite the days to linger. Summer gives the neighborhood kids the sacred space to go slightly feral and allows their schedules to be unregimented by school so that bedtime, bath time, and mealtime are only governed by necessity—necessity, and summer’s two ground rules: “Go outside and play” and “Be home when the streetlights come on.” 

In my childhood, we only took intermission during lunch, not even pausing play long enough to go inside for a cup of water—the hose was faster and tasted just fine. Lunch was often homemade chicken salad we would slap on two pieces of bread so we could run back outside even before chewing the first bite. 

The house specialty at the newly opened Chicken Salad Chick in Amarillo reminds me of those much-loved sandwiches—simple, refreshing and satisfying.

The namesake chicken salad recipe was first developed and distributed in 2008. The literally homemade dish gained such a following that creator Stacy Brown and her future husband had to open a takeout restaurant to remain compliant with local health department regulations. Developed in Auburn, Alabama, Chicken Salad Chick now has more than 200 stores across 17 states, and judging by the line of people who waited for the Amarillo location to officially open its doors a few weeks ago, Amarillo diners are also excited to dig in. 

The proprietors admit that everyone has their own idea of what chicken salad should be, they offer varieties to accommodate many preferences. The Classic Carol is the restaurant’s foundational recipe, made with simply seasoned shredded chicken tenderloin, mayonnaise, and what the restaurant says is a secret mix of seasonings and spices. The Classic Carol is a no-frills take on the two main ingredients most chicken salad connoisseurs agree must be included in any recipe: chicken and mayo.

Diners looking for more diverse textures can try Olivia’s Old South, which adds sweet pickles and hard-boiled egg to the Classic Carol recipe. If the classic risks being slightly too demure on its seasonings, the small diced sweet pickles in Olivia’s Old South add a pleasant twang, and the egg lends a slightly firmer texture to the soft salad.

A limited-time offering, the Dill-icious Diva adds chopped crispy cucumbers and a dramatic amount of fresh dill to brighten up the Classic Carol recipe. The crispness of the cucumbers and the tangy herbaceousness of the dill elevate the taste and texture.  

Scoops of the many varieties of chicken salad, pimiento cheese, or egg salad can be served on a bed of lettuce or made into a sandwich using toasted or untoasted soft and fluffy Wheat Berry or White Bread. The sandwiches come with or without lettuce and sliced Roma tomatoes—the lettuce leaf adds crispness, and the tomato slices give a bite of acidity that complements the richness of the chicken, egg or pimento salad.

Egg salad fans will find Chicken Salad Chick’s recipe satisfyingly simple, as well. Minced hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, and proprietary seasonings blend into an equally nostalgic and delicious salad. 

Chicken Salad Chick offers sides including pasta salad—made with tri-colored spiral pasta, black olives, artichoke hearts, feta and parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning—served chilled. Another standout is the broccoli salad, made with crisp-tender broccoli florets, cheeses, a vinegar-based dressing, and topped with bacon.

The local version of this chain offers nostalgic and tasty sandwiches, salads and sides, which are perfect for picnics, or poolside sustenance. Salads and sides can also be purchased by the container from their refrigerated case to serve a crowd, or to keep on hand—you never know when you, or the neighborhood kids, might need a quick lunch at the ready in between summertime fun.

Chicken Salad Chick
2620 Wolflin Ave.

Open 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday through Saturday