How to Eat Hot Chicken
Any Nashville cook worth his cayenne has a top-secret recipe for the grease-soaked local specialty that starts with chicken brined in a cayenne rub, dipped in flour, and deep-fried to crispy, mouth-numbing perfection. Kathleen Cotter, owner of Nashville’s Bloomy Rind cheese counter and a fervent firebird fan, shares three tips for the uninitiated.
1. Know Where to Go
The two to beat, by Cotter’s estimate, are Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack (123 Ewing Dr.; 615-226-9442), which was featured in an episode of Man v. Food Nation, and the two-year-old Pepperfire Hot Chicken (2821 Gallatin Pike; 615-582-4824), a walk-up window servicing a cluster of picnic tables.
2. Watch the Heat
“I’m not wimpy, but I won’t eat until my eyeballs bleed,” says Cotter, who orders the mild at Prince’s and medium at Pepperfire. “Still, I try not to get it around the outside of my mouth.” Yup, that’s how much it stings.
3. Chase It With Ice Cream
Midwestern mini-chain Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (1892 Eastland Ave.; 615-262-8611) is Cotter’s go-to after a hot-chicken run. Her favorite flavor is Brambleberry Crisp, made with vanilla ice cream, blackberries, raspberries, black currants, and “crack,” a.k.a. oven-toasted oat streusel.
Three Mighty Tasty Hangover Cures
Where Nashvillian Darek Bell, co-founder of Corsair Distillery and author of the book Alt Whiskeys, goes to ease the morning-after pain.
The Loveless Cafe
8400 Hwy. 100; 615-646-9700
“The bacon here is the quarterback of its detox-breakfast team, while the eggs alleviate brain fog, and the grits and biscuits help soak up anything left in your stomach from the night before.”
407 Gallatin Ave.; 615-650-7344
“Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat. I order it here with the 308 sliders.”
1235 Sixth Ave. N.; 615-248-4747
“They bring their cornbread to the table with hot gravy and peach preserves. It tastes just like Grandma’s: spongy like a hush puppy but with a creamed-corn sweetness.”