Hot Chicken Throwdown!

So, one of the “things” in Nashville is hot chicken. What? What is hot chicken??? Is it like buffalo wings you might ask? Nope, it’s different. Nashville hot chicken is made with a “dry” sauce, not a liquid sauce. It contains spices and cayenne pepper, so it’s spicy, but it’s not all about the heat. Good hot chicken has to have good flavor as well as heat. You usually get your choice of either a quarter or half chicken, wings, or tenders. It always comes with (or should come with) a couple pieces of white bread and some dill pickles. Side dishes will vary from one joint to another.

But where did hot chicken come from? Hard to say with 100% accuracy. From what I’ve read, it’s been around since the great depression, but has just realized main stream popularity in the last 10-15 years. I don’t really know for sure, but Nashville hot chicken is AWESOME and the Roambodies have got the lowdown for ya! We sampled two of the biggest names in hot chicken during our stay in the Music City and I’m gonna break it down for you right here.

Contestant number one: Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack – We went to Prince’s original location which is on the north side of town in kind of a run-down shopping strip. It’s a legitimate dive which is exactly what I like! Don’t expect great service when you go to Prince’s. They are here to sell chicken and that’s it. The menu features the aforementioned selection of chicken pieces and you get your choice of mild, medium, hot, or extra hot. I brazenly stepped up to the window and ordered a HOT three wing plate (wings to be sure to get the full flavor experience). It came out as advertised; bright red, in a paper serving dish, nestled on a couple pieces of white bread with some pickles impaled on top with a toothpick. I dug in and was immediately rewarded with the flavor of juicy, piping hot chicken that was spicy and delicious! Actually, not overly spicy… Yet. After knocking out the first piece I started on the next and noticed that I was starting to sniffle. Undaunted, I pressed on and happily ate while beginning to weep. I was loving every bite, but inevitably slowed down as the sniffling and crying were joined by perspiring. At this point I was a mess but I couldn’t stop eating. SO good, but the heat was kicking my ass!

 

 

Contestant number two: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken – This place was the polar opposite to Prince’s. It’s a shiny new little spot in the trendy Midtown area of Nashville. I really wanted to do this thing “apples to apples” so I ordered the same three wing plate in hot. Hattie B’s has the extra choices of extra hot and “Shut the Cluck Up!” Yikes! This experience was a little different from Prince’s. I felt the same euphoric joy when tasting the spicy, delectable chicken, but not the pain. This one was like the baby bear – just right! I was able to finish my entire meal without dripping from my nose, eyes, or pores!

 

 

Verdict? Honestly, I have to say that both Prince’s and Hattie B’s were just as good flavor-wise. I definitely found Prince’s to be spicier. But Hattie B’s had better side dishes. I gotta give Hattie B’s the edge in this contest by the narrowest of margins due to the better side dishes and the friendly service. But you can’t go wrong with either. Just be ready for the heat if you go to Prince’s!

Let us know about your favorite Nashville hot chicken!

 

Check out our full Nashville post here – Nashvegas Baby!