Each time I end up at T22 Chicken Joint, I leave promising myself that next time I’ll practice portion control. But I’m only human. In my humble opinion, this is the best fried chicken in Austin.
Going Brick and Mortar
The first thing you notice when you walk into T22 Chicken Joint is the ambiance. “Distressed, old New Orleans” is how general manager Daniel Sweeten describes it. The wooden floors are faded; the walls look like they were painted decades ago; and the art suggests simpler times. The design is intentional. Everything here is.
Before T22 Chicken Joint opened on Burnet Road, there was the Tumble 22 food trailer. Located in the back of Star Bar on West Sixth Street, Tumble 22 has been my go-to fried chicken sandwich spot since it opened in summer 2017. The trailer was the brainchild of Harold Marmulstein, a chef of 30 years and the man responsible for the delicious food at Salty Sow.
Inspired by Nashville’s hot chicken, Marmulstein began testing his own fried chicken recipes at Salty Sow. The honey-dipped fried chicken happy hour special took off, and Marmulstein knew he had something special on his hands.
With the recipe just right (more on that later), the Tumble 22 trailer wasn’t far behind. And, as the story often goes here in Austin, the trailer’s success led to a brick and mortar restaurant. T22 Chicken Joint opened in March 2018 and I opened my heart to it soon after.
T22 Chicken Joint Invites You to Eat
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The T22 menu consists of bone-in and boneless chicken. You can get chicken legs, thighs, breasts, wings, sandwiches, and tenders. There are five levels of heat:
- Mo’ Hot
- Dang Hot!
- Fire in the Hole!!
There’s also a “no heat” option for those who aren’t spice-inclined.
Recipe for Perfection
T22’s chicken is tumbled 22 times in seasoned flour, hence the name. “We’ve found that this specific number gives it the best crust and flavoring. It’s juicy on the inside, crunchy on the outside,” General Manager Daniel Sweeten told me.
The chicken is then dipped in a hot oil that has the lowest spice level in it, and dry dusted with additional spices to arrive at the requested heat level.
“We do a lot of local sourcing here. Our chicken is all-natural. Everything is made in house,” Sweeten explained. Fresh, delicious, and intentional. “With Chef Harold, nothing ever gets sent out less than 100 percent,” he continued.
Popular Items to Try
T22 Chicken Joint’s biggest seller is the 1/4 dark order (leg and a thigh). But if you want to eat until you can barely move, then get what I ordered recently: an entire sandwich, three large chicken fingers, and a couple of sides.
Speaking of sides, there’s mac-n-cheese (don’t miss this), BBQ beans, collard greens (using the famed recipe from Salty Sow), potato salad, and others. And don’t forget about the deviled eggs as a starter! They are delicious. Treat yo self.
Marmulstein, Sweeten, and company have created something truly special. I’ll happily (and frequently) leave the east side to get my fill.
Maybe the good people of Nashville should start coming to Austin for fried chicken inspiration…
Drinks and Dessert
T22 Chicken Joint is a full service restaurant, meaning it also features a working bar. Do you want to wash down your spicy chicken sandwich with one of six local draft beers? How about one of eight cocktails, or “Signature Sips,” as they’re called?
I couldn’t decide, so I went with the 60/40: 2/3 draft beer topped with frozen margarita. When I finished, the spice was almost gone, and the buzz was almost there. Not a bad place to be.
Are you still hungry? T22 Chicken Joint has a dedicated pie maker on staff. Out of the five pie options, I went with a slice of mile-high lemon meringue. Fluffy, delicate, sweet, and tart. I highly recommend.
➡️ Keep reading: 5 Great Spots to Get Fried Chicken in Austin
With Service to Match
This place has the ambiance. It definitely has the food. There’s also the service. Great service is important when you’re eating anything, but when you’re eating food that could set your mouth on fire, it’s crucial. Trust me, you won’t be the first one to ask a server to describe the difference between Dang Hot! and Fire in the Hole!!.
The servers here are trained to guide guests through the experience, and to do it with a patient smile. “Everyone’s happy to be here,” Sweeten told me. They have a great attitude; they’re quick; and they’re efficient.” This type of service is fitting for the neighborhood location T22 Chicken Joint has already become.
Burnet Road has a new destination eatery and the creators of T22 Chicken Joint have their latest success. Trust me when I say you should make it your intention to visit soon.
7211 Burnet Road — Website
@theAustinot wants to know:
Have you been to T22 Chicken Joint yet?