OB Gets Its First Fried Chicken on Newport Since Zeke’s

by on February 26, 2021 · 18 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Savvy Sammy

I love fried chicken and when I heard OB was going to get a fried chicken place right on Newport, my jaw dropped and my mouth watered at the same time. Oh my god!

OB hasn’t had good fried chicken on the avenue since Zeke’s closed – and that was a long time ago (where Bravos is now at the corner of Newport and Bacon). Zeke’s had a take-out window right there on Bacon.

My mother used to serve us homemade fried chicken every Sunday as we watched TV. She had one of those large frying pots. So, I came to love the crispy, juicy morsels on the bone.

But dang, it’s really tough to get good fried chicken in San Diego. Why is that? Isn’t San Diego supposed to be part of the South? I have relatives in Atlanta and every time I go visit, I immediately go into a food store and grab freshly-made pieces right off the counter – pieces that are better than most places here. Coops in Lemon Grove not withstanding.

Maybe it’s about to change.

Martin Robles and Bruno Elias are opening – or already have opened – ChickenHeadz – a fried chicken place right where Livingston’s used to be, 5026 Newport. Both used to work at Hodad’s (Elias for 17 years, Robles 10), so they know Newport, OB and restaurants well. Robles told the Beacon:

“It’s counter service with items on the menu that are geared toward beach eats, like fried chicken on a stick. We’ve got a parfait cup so you can walk and eat at the same time. Everything is catered to keep people moving toward the beach. You want to be able to walk around with your goodies and enjoy everything while you’re around here.”

ChickenHeadz offers the following:

  •  the classic bone-in chicken four- and eight-piece family meals,
  • chicken strips and
  • two signature sandwiches: the yardbird, a classic fried-chicken sandwich, and a po’boy, the eatery’s take on the classic po’boy sandwich on a French roll with house-made tequila lime Cole slaw.
  • chicken wings with buffalo ranch sauce
  • combo fried chicken meals with cornbread, chicken & waffles, and
  • an array of sides and extras like mac n’ cheese, mashed potatoes with gravy, popcorn chicken, fried pickles and green beans and the restaurant’s trademark fried mushrooms.

Elias told The Beacon:

“We all started out in the kitchen back in the day prepping, frying, and slowly moving our way up. We’d been thinking about doing something on the side. Once the pandemic hit, it just motivated us to start looking into the ideas that we had. Fried chicken was definitely one of them.”

Robles added:

“We all started out in the back learning all aspects of the business. It’s not life or death. “It’s lunch and dinner.”

That was a favorite phrase of Mike Hardin.

Elias said:

“We’re learning as we go. But this is where the whole Bossman-Hodad’s alumni thing comes in. We took a lot of things that we learned from there and it made the journey so much easier.”


“During the pandemic down time it was a cool time to come in here as we rebuilt the inside of this old classic Mexican restaurant. We were just looking forward to opening up to the public and giving a different visual perception as well.”

Here’s their facebook.



{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie February 26, 2021 at 12:18 pm

I added a photo of Zeke’s to Savvy Sammy’s post.


Alicia February 26, 2021 at 11:12 pm

Great food, great local guys. Lots of heart put into bringing some good eats to the neighborhood. As for the name, the beacon sums it up. Read it, but what I read was There are a lot of different heads. Gear heads, dead heads and those who love chicken, chicken headz.


Chris February 28, 2021 at 10:47 am
gsweeney March 1, 2021 at 10:22 am

The service window on Bacon St. was the only place a “long hair” received service unless you put the hair under a hat,
remember? You could shop the attached antique store and he didn’t mind the hair.


Frank Gormlie March 1, 2021 at 11:25 am

Zeke’s chicken wasn’t cheap, either. I recall not being able to afford it – way back in the early 70s.


Peter from South O March 1, 2021 at 11:48 am

As a single guy living with nobody fried chicken from scratch is impractical. In my culinary outings I have come to the conclusion that once you find a place that knows how to do it right, stick with ’em.
If any of you get up to my neck of the woods I highly recommend Mary’s. Family restaurant that kicks out some SUPERB fried bird.
Across 101 from the Oceanside City Hall complex.


Chris March 1, 2021 at 6:34 pm

I’ve had the fried chicken at the Crack Shack in Little Italy, Streetcar Merchants in North Park, I’ve been to Mary’s in O-side but only for breakfast. So far my favorite fried chicken is from the Deli at Ralph’s in Hillcrest, tho you have to get it right when it comes out of the fryer.


Frank Gormlie March 2, 2021 at 7:02 am

Yes, and the Ralphs in downtown also. Thanks Chris – maybe we should all get together after covid and do a fried chicken run.


Peter from South O March 2, 2021 at 9:04 am

I get my second jab of Moderna on the 11th . . . then fourteen days to have it fully take effect and THIS guy is on the Coaster with OB as a destination.
It’s been more than a year since the Gubbiner told we old feeble folks to stay home, and I did.
Fried chicken will be a fine bonus!


Frank Gormlie March 2, 2021 at 9:31 am

Peter – I’m just one day ahead of you for my second. They say the affects of the 2nd with Moderna are worse than the first. I guess we’ll find out.


Peter from South O March 2, 2021 at 9:46 am

My arm didn’t even get sore on the first jab. DID have a bit of excitement while I sat in the 15min holding pen, though. All of a sudden someone in back yelled “EMT” and this Amazon goes barrelling past with a medical kit in her hand.
I am pretty sure at this point in my life that I am not allergic to ANYTHING.


Chris March 2, 2021 at 11:12 am

We were told we would be getting the shots @ my work. Possible next week (we’ll see). Yes I am down for a fried chicken get together with a good hazy IPA to wash it down with.


Peter from South O March 2, 2021 at 3:07 pm

Noon to 7PM they are conducting a soft opening.


Kevin Harris March 6, 2021 at 1:50 pm

I give it a week before they get broken in too, too many homeless hanging around newport, i’d sleep on a cot in the joint for at least the first 10 days. a lot of camera’s and keep the lights on at night.


Peter from South O March 6, 2021 at 4:49 pm

Read the article. The owners worked RIGHT NEXT DOOR before they started up this new biz. I think they are familiar with the territory.


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