While the white building with the hanging sign reading “Ma Lou’s Fried Chicken” may be small and unassuming, the food is anything but that. Retro red and white themes accent the cozy restaurant with painted outdoor picnic tables and checkered paper in baskets holding steaming chicken wings and sandwiches. Ma Lou’s at 15 W Michigan Avenue, has been serving chicken dishes since opening in downtown Ypsilanti in 2017.
Walking past the red cushioned chairs and booths to a sticker-covered carry-out counter will give you a good look at the four-paneled chalkboard menu. As the name suggests, chicken is the only meat on the menu but you could dine in for a week and not get bored of the menu.
I was greeted by a knowledgeable front-of-house staff member who took my order and served me. In between Doordash, Grubhub and in-person customers placing orders, the staff member answered my questions enthusiastically and chatted about working toward their degree.
To save the cashier from asking two questions during your ordering process, think about spice level and type of chicken. Ma Lou’s offers three levels of spice (or none); southern, not spicy, medium, for those who casually eat hot chips and spicy af, no explanation necessary. You can choose between chicken breast, thigh or tofu for most meals.
I first ordered the most popular “shareable” item, fried brussel sprouts. Tossed in a sweet mustard vinaigrette and topped with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds, this crunchy and tangy appetizer almost spoiled my hunger for the rest of my meal because I could not pull my fork away.
Next up, I had to try the chicken and waffles. The waffles were coated in powdered sugar, super crispy and made for a great vehicle for the juicy chicken. I opted to dip my crispy waffles and crunchy chicken thigh into the syrup cup to make for better leftovers.
Smasher’s are Ma Lou’s version of a smashburger, with two chicken patties in between burger buns. The cashier’s favorite smasher is the Smoke House, so I ordered it and dug in next. It was topped with bacon, smoked gouda, onion petals, a sweet and smoky onion marmalade, and bbq sauce with an onion roll secured on top by a pick.
For a light dessert, I finished three beignets topped with confectioners sugar. This treat was piping hot and had an amazing crispy and airy texture.
Ma Lou’s has been serving chicken dishes since opening in downtown Ypsilanti in 2017. If you’ve never been there, you will likely be recommended The OG sandwich, a thick breast, thigh or tofu finished with cheddar and smoked gouda, onion rolls and slaw. The crispy pickles on top elevate the sandwich from tasty to jaw dropping. Chicken bites or tenders and fries are sure to please any picky eater.
Located on Michigan Ave near the corner of Huron Street, they have public parking behind the building off a narrow driveway alongside the restaurant. Next time I am hosting friends in town, I know a take-out stop that is sure to impress.