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Bite of the Week: Chicken Filet Sandwich at Columbia's Rush's

Rush's Chicken Sandwich

$3.90. Multiple locations. rushs.com.

As a citizen of the Midlands, I can’t generate much interest in the surprisingly long-lived debate over which national chain has the best chicken sandwich.

It’s not that the sandwiches themselves are bad. If you can stomach the politics, Chick-fil-A’s fried filet on buttered bun with pickles is definitely tasty, and the challenger introduced by Popeyes is no slouch (especially if you like it hot and go with the bountifully flavorful spicy version).

I just have no need to seek out these and other new competitors — such as the one recently introduced by Zaxby’s — because this is Columbia, and we’re covered up with great chicken sandwiches from local restaurants.

From the wonderfully excessive filet-with-tender-to-level-it-out approach at Drake’s Duck-In to the pimento-cheese-covered behemoth down Main Street at The Whig, Soda Citizens need not limit themselves to the sandwiches that everyone else can eat.

And even if you’re not interested in heading downtown, and would prefer to grab your lunch from a drive-through, you’ve still got a sterling option in Rush’s Chicken Filet.

There are Deluxe and Club versions that add lettuce, tomato, mayo, cheese and bacon (the latter an admittedly strong allure as Rush’s does not mess around with its substantial applewood-smoked strips), but this is a chicken sandwich that’s best enjoyed straight-up.

The chicken is tender and not overly stringy, the meat well-flavored by the local chain’s pressure-cooking process. The advertised “13 secret herbs and spices” in the thin but effectively crispy fry coating are subtle, but they add dimension that opens up more with each successive bite. The simple buttered bun accents the filet without taking attention away from it, and the pickles pop just enough to lend an occasional zing.

It is, in other words, a textbook example of the Southern chicken sandwich, and it’s pretty great.

And it’s available at nine locally owned locations throughout the Midlands.

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