Last Updated on January 31, 2023 by Jim Edwards
What a name for a business, right?! Kind of makes you wonder what kind of food they serve. Well I am here to tell you all about Howlin’ Rays, their menu items, and their secret menu.
Unlike any of the other “secret menu” pieces I have done, for other companies, Howlin’ Rays is in Los Angeles, California only. There is no franchise, no one who has taken over, this is a one location establishment. Howlin’ Rays is owned by a husband and wife who wanted to bring something Nashville style spicy hot chicken to Los Angeles.
This place is unique and worth a visit if you live in LA or are visiting! The co-owner and head chef, Johnny Ray Zone, is a native of Los Angeles. He started out as an apprentice, working under top chefs; Gordon Ramsey, Thomas Keller, and Nobu Matsuhisa. Seriously, just pause and LOOK at this delicious spicy fried chicken!
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The History of Howlin’ Rays Hot Chicken
The concept for Howlin’ Rays came about after a trip that Johnny took to Nashville. Johnny tried Nashville Hot Chicken, and it changed everything, literally. It took his culinary desires and dreams to a whole new level. He and his wife, Amanda Chapman, took a tour of Nashville and hot chicken. Visiting every establishment that they could. They made some grand friends, learned a lot about hot chicken, and had some great times.
When they returned to Los Angeles, they opened a food truck. It didn’t take long before they had major crowds at each location that they parked the truck. In 2016 Johnny and Amanda opened the first Howlin’ Rays restaurant.
This menu comprises; Wings, Skinny Jimmy (boneless chicken breast), Mario-style Fries, Luis-style Sando, and The Sando (originally combined by Amanda). The Sando is a boneless chicken breast, slaw, trademark comeback sauce, and pickles all on a butter bun. They also have some side order items available. Monitor the website for their return opening. I am sure the great patrons of Los Angeles can not wait to have a meal in the establishment.
Some of these items on the delivery-only menu, are also on their “secret-menu” (and the regular menu).
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Howlin’ Rays Secret Menu
This is a take on a patty melt. Luis took elements from the patty melt and Amanda’s Sando and created his own version, the Luis-style Sando. This is a spicy chicken breast smothered in cheddar cheese, topped with slaw and their famous comeback sauce. This is all placed between two thick, grilled, and buttered slices of Texas toast.
Jojo came up with another unique twist to the original Sando. This one takes elements from the Skinny Jimmy and chicken ‘n’ waffles to the next level. The Jojo-style Sando is a boneless chicken breast topped with cheese, and placed between two waffles. If you want to add an extra explosion of flavor to this already amazing Sando, you can add maple syrup and powdered sugar. This takes any chicken ‘n’ waffles and makes it the best darned thing in the world.
This item is one that is listed on the delivery-only menu right now, but is definitely available in house, when they are open. Mario-style Fries are a must if you are a huge cheese fries kind of fan. This takes normal cheese fries about 10 steps up! Mario uses the ‘shake fries’ to create this amazing dish. Mario-style Fries are french fries that are covered in cheddar cheese, pickles, vinegar slaw, and the Howlin’ Ray’s comeback sauce. To make this dish an over-the-top experience, they mix in pieces of hot chicken (your choice of spice level).
Another amazing creation by a crew member at Howlin’ Ray’s. With Matt’s version, you take the shake fries and cover them with cut up bacon, comeback sauce, braised tomatoes, and collard greens. Top off Matt-style Fries with a ton of melted cheese and a side of potlikker sauce (braising juice from the collard greens). You can dip your fries in it, or drizzle it over the top before devouring this delectable dish.
This is our last secret-menu French fry item. Juicy-style Fries are more of an appetizer than a meal. It is a smaller portion of the shake fries with some goodies added to make it out-of-this-world. This is for those of you that like an abundance of flavor and a lot of spice. They take the shake fries with just a hint of extra-hot seasoning, Crystal’s classic hot sauce, Trappy’s pepper vinegar, comeback sauce, and Howlin’ Ray’s slaw. Not tell me that doesn’t sound absolutely amazing!
The Howlin’ Plus
If you like spicy and the hottest thing on the menu is not enough for you, this is the even spicier option that is on their secret menu.
We cannot describe in words how hot it is. Seriously!
People joke about how it’s so hot they “died” and similar comments.
Even with water, ice cream, or milk, they still say it’s basically the hottest fried chicken sandwich they have ever had.
So if you love spicy, be sure to try this but be careful!
Summary of Howlin’ Rays Secret Menu
Howlin’ Rays is one of the busiest establishments in Chinatown in Los Angeles. The wait time to get in the order and order can range anywhere from 45-minutes to five hours. Their hot chicken dishes are some of the best in California! Howlin’ Rays offers six different spice levels for your food (and taste buds); Country (no heat), Mild (brush of heat), Medium (feel the burn), Hot (burn baby), and Howlin’ (10++ can’t touch this). So whatever your taste buds can handle, Howlin’ Rays can accommodate.
Chef Johnny has been part of the opening of Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant The London and he joined a talented team to help open Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Beverly Hills. He has also been on the Food Network shows; Beat Bobby Flay, Cutthroat Kitchen, and The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
As a side note; off-menu (secret menu) items are stressful on the crew because they are already so busy. So, please remember that not everything that you see on social media (Twitter and Instagram) is going to be made if you dine at Howlin’ Rays. They have a huge, unique following and there are tons of posts of the delicious food and great times that are had at Howlin’ Rays, but they cannot prepare something that you see a picture of. Grab your family and friends and go make some noble friends and eat some spectacular food at the one and only Howlin’ Rays in Los Angeles.
You can learn more about their food on their website – www.howlinrays.com.
See our other secret menus from other restaurants focused on chicken: KFC Secret Menu, Popeyes Secret Menu and of course Chick Fil-a Secret Menu.
Video: Howlin’ Ray’s Hot Chicken
Howlin’ Ray’s in Los Angeles is known for its incredibly hot fried chicken and that is what people LOVE about it. And…it has an even spicier offering that is on their secret menu – the Howlin’ Plus!
It’s so hot, it might blow your head off! LOL, just kidding.
But seriously, it’s insanely hot. Watch this video to learn more.
BEST SECRET MENU ITEM?
— HOWLIN’ RAY’S (@howlinrays) July 29, 2018
Image Credit: “Hot Chicken and Waffles @ Howlin’ Ray’s” by Mike Saechang is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
I’m Jim Edwards and I started this website to share my love of Junk Food. We cover new junk food, desserts, snack foods, fast food secret menus, candy (of course!) and other related news. We love trying “secret menus” at restaurants. And we love trying new products too. So, we are trying to have some fun with our hobby and share some useful information with you, our community. Please feel to send us your suggestions and feedback through the contact form. And if you have products you would like us to try, let us know…!