The corner of Melrose and Western has become a destination for the best-fried chicken in California, according to Yelp and just about everyone who tries it. The lines for their fried chicken sandwich started at Craig and Kristen Walker’s backdoor during COVID when they began feeding their neighbors from their home kitchen. Today, the lines continue at their brick-and-mortar restaurant on the corner of Western and Melrose, between Koreatown and East Hollywood, known as Melrose Hill. Serving more than 200 sandwiches daily, Le Coupé is one of a few recent restaurants that have put Melrose Hill on the map as a culinary hotspot — New Jersey deli Ggiata, the Filipino spot Kuya Lord, Italian restaurant Etra and coffee spot Café Telegrama and several new art galleries are all part of the recent wave of energy to this area.
The French name Le Coupé means “the cut”— it’s also a nod to being cooped up during COVID. Chef Craig has deep Southern roots, and his native home state of Louisana inspires the menu. “I’m from the other LA, so it’s like this bridge between Los Angeles and Louisiana. It’s bringing it from the south coast to the west coast,” Chef Craig said.
Born and raised in Southen Louisana, a big part of his family bond was food, bringing everyone together. Now, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef with experience at fine dining establishments nationwide, he seeks that in his kitchen daily.
Le Coupé is not your usual fried chicken joint – it is extra. The menu features every fan favorite–fried sandwich, potato salad, and cornbread–each with an elevated twist. The cornbread is blue and served with duck fat brown butter, the corn is served as tossed “ribs,” and the fried chicken is coated in chili honey that holds a perfect crisp.
The atmosphere at Le Coupé matches its menu – familiar but elevated. While you may order at a counter like at other fast-casual restaurants, that is where the similarities end. “We put a lot of effort into giving our guests the full experience — customer service, hospitality, good food,” said Kristen.
With Le Coupé, Craig and Kristen hope to break down any barrier between concept and customer, with the duo involved with nearly every step of your dining experience. Their mission of bringing people together over food is the foundation for their restaurant. They believe that good food is the bridge to all humanity. Focusing on community and feeding people has been central to Chef Craig’s role as a chef. “That’s my way to bring people together, to share my experiences and put it on a plate — you can taste the journey,” he said.
The food, the atmosphere, and the community are all part of an intentional vision to create a high-quality food experience with accessible menu items. Le Coupé seeks to do a little bit extra. This notion comes from the Cajun-French saying lagniappe, which means a little extra. This husband-wife team has nailed the concept of giving extra, and their cult following recognizes it.
Sitting in the restaurant packed with happy customers and good music, you can feel the passion and the philosophy that Chef Craig and Kristen convey in their food. Whether it be the dynamic flavors of the corn ribs, the perfect balance of crisp chicken and slaw in the sandwich, or the delicious melt-in-your-mouth brown butter chocolate cookies, the thought, care, and technique come through.
Written by: Alicia Ethan