Nashville has been on my list of places to go for a while. Between the food scene and the music scene, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. So when my friend and I found some cheap plane tickets, we convinced our other halves to make a weekend of it, and what a weekend it was! I had begun planning months ago. My version of planning is probably a little unconventional. I think most people, if I’m not mistaken, start with where they’ll stay, whereas I start with where I want to eat and look for a place to stay that’s central to my dining bucket list and eat my way through a new city. Eating is definitely one of the best ways to soak in the culture of a new destination. One thing stuck out for me about the food scene in Nashville – the Hot Chicken.
I love spicy food. The hotter the better. I’ve made the poor choice to try hot sauces in New Orleans that required a waiver to be signed, and induced involuntary coughing and crying. I’ve tried the Gambler Roll at Sunda, here in Chicago (which coincidentally, just opened recently in Nashville). When I go places, I collect hot sauce instead of shot glasses (remember my blog from a few years ago?). So, naturally Nashville Hot Chicken was on the top of my dining bucket list for this trip, and good thing, because nearly every Uber driver will volunteer their vote for the best in the city. If it was up to me, I would’ve eaten it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but given that I was with others, I settled for tackling the big two in the hot chicken game – Hattie B’s and Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack (and a surprise in between).
I went to Hattie B’s, luggage in hand after getting off the plane. All that traveling makes a girl hungry, and I figured 11am was the best time to avoid a line. Not the case. There was a line, but it was certainly worth it. I got the Damn Hot which was the second hottest they offered (I still wanted my tastebuds to work after this first experiment). The chicken was even more delicious that I could have expected. The pimento mac and cheese was pretty unforgettable too – definitely helps cool down the spice too!
Between Hattie B’s and Prince's, I had breakfast at Biscuit Love. I had heard good things but not specifically about the Hot Chicken. They have plenty of amazing combinations on the menu, however, I, without hesitation went with the hot chicken biscuit. The biscuits are light and fluffy, pair perfectly with the spicy, crispy chicken, and the tangy pickles.
Prince’s is one of the originals. Started in 1945, the legend has it that the idea of Hot Chicken came about because Thorton Prince made his girlfriend angry and she opted to get revenge through chicken by making it as spicy as she could. The plan backfired though, and he ate it, loved it, and asked for more. Prince’s is definitely the more casual, no frills, of the two spots. You come here for the chicken, and you leave as soon as you’re done, because there are at least 5 people waiting for your table. The sides aren’t all that exciting, because they don’t have to be. The chicken speaks for itself. I was thankful that our Uber driver gave us the tip that the chicken is hotter as the day goes on because it has more time to marinate. I didn’t ask for this to be verified, but it makes sense, and trust me, at 2pm, the chicken was hot and perfectly crispy. It’s one of those dining experiences you don’t forget. Roll up your sleeves and go. Prince’s wins if we’re strictly comparing chicken – something about the spices and dredge on the chicken. You’ll have to experience it yourself to understand!
And just like that my weekend in Nashville was over and it had ended the same way it had started, with Hot Chicken. If you’re looking to heat things up, try the coating they use at Hattie B’s after you fry up some chicken:
Nashville Hot Chicken Baste
½ cup lard, melted and heated (no one said this was healthy!)
3 Tablespoons cayenne
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
If you’re looking to make fried chicken and need that perfect pan, cast iron is 20% off this month! I’m also really excited about our upcoming new class Coqs and Corks – a fried chicken and wine pairing class being offered on Saturday, October 20 at the Mart. Better hurry though, we only have 9 seats left!