Pioneer chicken is a childhood favorite of mine going all the way back to when my brother and I were barely tall enough to peer over at the fries being prepared across the counter! The franchise was a frequent must-have up until our early teens, when it was forced to close both of its locations in our neighborhood not long after we finished eighth grade. At Sunset blvd and Fountain ave, the Pioneer chicken was replaced by Del Taco, while in Echo Park, at Echo Park Avenue and Sunset blvd, the franchise was supplanted by a Little Caesar’s.
Since then, I missed its greasy combinations every time I passed by these old grounds, but the other day, when a friend and I were driving through Boyle Heights I just so happened to spot its old sign: the one and only Pioneer chef, a large and friendly figure! As soon as I got home later that afternoon, I shared the news with mom, and it was then quickly settled: We were going the next day.
The following morning, mom and I hopped on the bus to the Pioneer at Whittier blvd and Soto street and got our chicken legs, thighs, some mashed potatoes, and of course, the hot and spicy Pioneer rice; and it was great to sit at the old spot’s booth again, knowing that even after all this time, we’re all still here: alive, kickin’ and enjoying the savory roots of our city together.