The descriptions of some roasted chicken preparations from the team behind Sexy Bird read like online dating profiles. Take “One Bite in Bangkok,” for example. The chicken sits in a bath of coconut milk and bird’s eye chilies for 36 hours before roasting, resulting in a meal so spicy it’s “euphoria and misery combined,” according to co-founder Kolby Stern.
“Who should choose her?” Sexy Bird asks on Instagram. “Anyone adventurous that likes to live on the wild side. She’s spicy and her heat and flavor permeate from the skin all the way to the bone. She hurts but she hurts so good. If you have a love for heat or just feel like you have something to prove, she’s the bird for you.”
Sexy Bird, from Stern and his partners, Zach Bondy and Aric Sandoval, officially launches on Nov. 3. The pick-up and delivery restaurant based out of Mess Hall in Edgewood will operate Wednesdays through Sundays from 4 p.m. to midnight. “We want to get some of the late-night night, possibly buzzed crowd,” Sandoval says. Find them on Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Grubhub. Washingtonians can also get a preview on Oct. 27 by ordering through Tock.
The stars of the menu are four whole roasted birds priced between $29 and $33. If you want something tamer than the One Bite in Bangkok, try the “Bread & Butter Betty” chicken that’s brined in bread and butter pickle juice and dressed with pickles, garlic chips, and crispy dill.
Sexy Bird aims to be a zero waste restaurant, so any whole birds they don’t sell wind up as pulled chicken sandwiches ($14–$18). There are also sides like sexy grits, truffle garlic mash, and gouda mac & cheese ($10–$12); salads ($10–$14); and four flavors of wings that can be ordered by the dozen ($24). See the full menu, subject to change, below.
“The wings are double-jointed,” Bondy explains. “They’re jumbo wings. No party wings here.” They come from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Bondy once worked for Chef Michael Gulotta at MoPho in New Orleans, which specializes in Viet-Cajun cooking. That’s where he learned to make the fish sauce that coats Sexy Bird’s “Viet-Cajun Caramel” wings. They’re an homage to that entry on Bondy’s resume. He has also worked for the restaurant group behind BLT Steakhouse.
Stern spent the past decade working in the hospitality industry in South Florida, where he helped open three-Michelin-star Chef Mauro Colagreco’s first American restaurant, Florie’s, in Palm Beach. He moved to D.C. in 2019. Sandoval recently returned to the D.C. area, where he grew up, after working in the hospitality industry in management roles and as a sommelier in cities across the country.
They met working at Little Beet Table in Chevy Chase earlier this year. You grow close when you open a restaurant together, close it, open it up again, and so forth in the midst of a global pandemic. There was plenty of time to brainstorm while business was slow. Eager to leave a corporate restaurant setting behind, they decided to strike out on their own with Sexy Bird. “We found ourselves laughing at work every day,” Sandoval says. “Comfort food seems to be what is moving right now,” Stern adds.
The Sexy Bird team hopes to spread its wings. They envision having a bevy of brick-and-mortar locations spread across the U.S. Bondy says they already have agreements in place with forthcoming food halls and he’s interested in opening a bar. “Beer and a bird—that’s a recipe for a good bar,” he says. “When one of these is in the airport, we don’t have to work anymore.”
Sexy Bird at Mess Hall, 703 Edgewood St. NE; therealsexybird.com