Downtown Market’s Juju Bird dismays with deceivingly average food


The tantalizing online pictures that enticed me into trying Juju Bird paled in comparison to the treasure that awaited me in person when I popped open the takeout container.

Newly opened in the Downtown Market this past fall, Juju Bird proudly proclaims itself as the go-to fried chicken joint amidst the myriad of food options offered at Downtown Market. Though tacos and Thai fried rice usually call my name when I walk into the bustling hub, I was eager to try out something new.

And, the alluringly mouth-watering pictures a Google search afforded me certainly didn’t damage my excitement.

Thus, one can imagine my delight when I freed my Classic Sandwich of its cardboard cage to reveal a beautifully appetizing sight, smashing its digital image competition solely by the fact that it was steaming right before my eyes in three dimensions.

My accompanying friends, Nisha and Susannah, shared similar awed reactions, “oohs” emanating and eyes widening.

The colorfully seasoned fries captured our attention first. But greedy, grabbing fingers were quickly met with underwhelmed dismay. Our disappointed analysis easily concluded that the fries were simply too salty, lacking any other supplemental flavor.

Our healthy afterschool appetite, however, did not curb our standards, and we had no hesitation in polishing the small serving of fries off.

I tried not to let the first blunder impede my enjoyment of the real star: the hefty, overflowing sandwich. My greased-up fingers stumbled lifting up the robust sandwich filled to the brim with crispy chicken strips, mayo, pickles, lettuce, and tomato. 

It seems, however, that deceiving appearances were the trend of this meal.

Overall, the sandwich was decent— at best. My first complaint came with Juju’s choice to fill the sandwich with literal chicken tenders rather than a traditional patty. While I am certainly a fan of chicken tenders, the strips made the sandwich tricky to hold onto and unevenly distributed the meat.

Moreover, the chicken was frankly subpar. It was comparable to that of D&W or Forest Hills Foods, but even then, I’d argue that its supermarket competitors bring more flavor to the table with unbeatable prices to my $9 sandwich.

My next criticism came with the brioche bun. The mayo was a delectable addition to the mix, nicely complementing the dry ingredients. However, the bun soaked up the dripping mayo, creating a soggy mess unfit to handle the weight of the substantial sandwich.

As a whole, it was a fairly tasty sandwich. The combination of all the ingredients was actually pretty good, but my critiques are amateur missteps I wouldn’t expect from a decently priced meal. Moreover, it wasn’t quite stellar enough to fulfill my $9 investment.

Nevertheless, I would perhaps consider returning in the case of a craving for an alright chicken sandwich had it not been for Juju’s grave pitfall: its location.

Downtown Market is teeming with a dizzying number of options, all of them priced at around the same rate. And with some addicting tacos and heavenly fried rice nearby, Juju Bird, unfortunately, doesn’t stand a chance.