Frank’s Burger Place

In our search for the best fried chicken sandwich, we hit upon an unexpected gem: a burger joint version devised by a former high-end restaurant chef. Pedro Matamoros, whose resume includes stints at the Tabard Inn in Washington, D.C., the defunct 8407 Kitchen Bar in Silver Spring, Bethesda’s Barrel & Crow, and most recently The Bluebird Cocktail Room in Baltimore, opened Frank’s Burger Place in Wheaton in June. A bare-bones spot off the beaten track, it belies the finesse of the food. Unlike the other fried chicken sandwiches we tried—made with breast meat that invariably dries out in the fryer—Matamoros ensures a moist interior by using skinless, boneless chicken thighs brined overnight in buttermilk and spices. The thighs aren’t breaded ahead of time, but dredged to order and fried to a crispy, crackly finish. Served on a buttered and grilled brioche bun, the chicken shares space with homemade cilantro-flecked slaw, pickles, and a swipe of Matamoros’ take on Comeback sauce, here prepared with mayonnaise and ketchup made from scratch. With careful thought to each ingredient, it all adds up to a terrific combination of crunch and creaminess, cut with a hint of heat and vinegar. There are a handful of tables at the restaurant, and while the sandwich held up decently via delivery, there’s also carryout. For maximum fried freshness, we recommend polishing it off in the car.

Frank’s Burger Place, 11265 Triangle Lane, Wheaton, 301-686-3091,