For chef Phil Lee, Southern comfort food is an experience that goes beyond the meal itself: “There’s just something so amazing about it, it’s very humble yet very delicious.” Indeed, Honeybird, the latest addition to USC Village, looks like a cozy mom-and-pop eatery, with simple wooden decor, a handwritten chalkboard menu and a mouthwatering pie display.
Since opening, Honeybird has served students and the community with delicious fried chicken, fresh sides and delectable pies. The menu offers fried chicken à la carte, combos and sandwiches. You can’t go wrong with any of the options, but the Honeybird sandwich and the spicier Firebird sandwich are the most popular items on the menu.
Honeybird did not disappoint. The fried chicken was absolutely delicious, and the waffle fries were so addictive that you might just go for seconds. Other go-to sides you have to try include the chipotle macaroni salad, Honeybird house salad and biscuits.
The rainbow kale and quinoa salad and roasted veggie salad use fresh market vegetables for variety. Lee says the menu stands out because of the additional healthy side options that most Southern comfort food restaurants don’t offer.
“We do have the traditional sides like biscuits, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, but at the same time we also have healthy options like seasonal salads,” Lee said.
For those with a sweet tooth, Honeybird offers handmade pies such as banana cream pie, salted honey pie, pecan pie and bread pudding.
“That’s something we like to offer that still fits within the breadth of Southern comfort food,” Lee said.
After graduating from UC Santa Barbara, Lee enrolled in culinary classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. He then found his way back to his hometown, opening the original Honeybird at La Cañada Flintridge in April 2016. The larger restaurant maintains a more family-oriented experience in the quiet town.
All orders are conveniently packed in recyclable boxes and cups, suited to the rush of student life, a practice inspired by Lee’s college days.
“In college, I remember grabbing food and going back to my dorm or my apartment, watching TV and eating or studying and eating, so we tweaked that here because we understood the climate of students that are always on the run, always on the go,” Lee said.
There is limited seating inside the restaurant, but in the future, Honeybird will open up patio seating for students who aren’t in a rush.
Of the USC location, Lee said, “To be part of the rebirth of the Village was really amazing.” Lee stressed that he wanted to share Honeybird with the surrounding South L.A. community.
Honeybird’s service, hospitality and scrumptious fried chicken will surely appeal to the masses, and its homemade pie certainly doesn’t hurt.
Honeybird at USC Village is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Patrons can order over the phone or at the counter.