Nashville Hot Chicken
Photo Credit: Phillip Fryman

9 Must-Try Hot Chicken Joints in Nashville

It's a Nashville tradition, hot chicken. And here's where to get it.

Nashville hot chicken has become such a global phenomenon, but you can only get the best hot chicken in Nashville. Legendary staple Prince's Hot Chicken Shack is the grandfather of hot chicken with many others following in its footsteps like hot chicken from Hattie B's, Bolton's Spicy Chicken & Fish and so many more. And, you can take a bite out of a variety of hot chicken restaurants at the annual and free Music City Hot Chicken Festival July 4.

Prince's Hot Chicken Shack

Make your culinary pilgrimage to Prince's Hot Chicken, the establishment that started the Nashville hot chicken movement. Started by Thornton Prince after taking a plate of devilishly hot chicken made by his jilted lover, Prince's Hot Chicken was started almost 100 years ago and still serves some of the hottest chicken you'll ever have. Flavors range from plain and lite mild to XXX Hot and come as wings, tenders, leg and breast quarters. Pair your hot chicken with delicious sides like baked beans, Cole slaw, potato salad and mac and cheese.

Hattie B's

With five locations in Nashville, including the Nashville International Airport - you can get a taste of Hattie B's hot chicken as soon as your plane touches down - Hattie B's serves Southern fried chicken ranging in heat levels from mild up to "Shut the Cluck Up". Get your chicken on the bone or off as a sandwich or tenders. You can even add a Belgian waffle with honey butter and syrup. Order sides like pimento mac and chesse, Southern greens, red skin potato salad and black-eyed pea salad. Cool off with a root beer float or ice cream and banana pudding.

Pepperfire Hot Chicken

Pepperfire Hot Chicken is frying on all cylinders with their take of the Nashville staple. Head to the little shack in East Nashville where Pepperfire was the first to serve hot chicken as a tender and on a sandwich. Choose your temperature from Trainin' Wheels (a little heat) to No Refunds, a level 6 that has all the heat they have and try one of their specialties, like the Tender Royale, a Peppercheese (deep-fried pepper jack grilled cheese) with three hot chicken tenders, or the Apple Jack - a Tender Royale topped with baked apples. You can also order fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, banana pudding, fried okra and sweet cinnamon apples.

Bolton's Famous Hot Chicken & Fish

Photo Credit: @draskojankovic_

You'll see why Bolton's is famous when you take a bite of their hot chicken or hot fish. Order tenders, chicken on a stick, leg quarter or wings that are fried up fresh and made with whichever spice level you'd like to try - from lite mild to extra hot. Order catfish or whiting with Bolton's signature spices as well. Complete your meal with corn on the cob, potato salad, string beans, baked beans or fries and don't forget a glass of milk, not water, if you're ordering extra hot hot chicken. 

Party Fowl

Photo Credit: @partyfowlnash

Head to the original Party Fowl location in downtown Nashville in The Gulch neighborhood at the corner of 8th and Division Street. The 4,000-square-foot facility has plenty of room for locals and visitors alike as well as an extended bar area, 13 large-screen TVs and convertible open-air dining with garage doors on all sides. Order your hot chicken on the bone as a half bird or as a sandwich, alongside beighnets, in a quesadilla, po'boy, Cuban sandwich or double-breaded hot chicken. They also have other offerings like burgers, salads and shepherd's pie with smoked chicken. 

Helen's Hot Chicken

You'll love the explosive flavor of Helen's Hot Chicken. Starting as a small trailer operation, Helen's has grown to a brick-and-mortar on Jefferson Street in downtown Nashville. Choose your heat from plain, mild, hot and Hella on chicken, catfish, wings, shrimp and whiting fish, alongside waffles, fried okra, Cole slaw or baked beans. One bite will make you want to come back for more.

400 Degrees Hot Chicken

Photo Credit: @400degreeshotchicken

Pose in front of the hot chicken wing mural at 400 Degrees Hot Chicken before stepping inside to try the crunchy and deliciously hot chicken served up Tuesdays - Saturdays. You can get 400 Degrees at Nashville International Airport in Terminal C or on Clarksville Pike. Get classic hot chicken tenders, wings or a breast quarter as well as hot pork chops, shrimp and catfish. Enjoy sides like spicy fries that pack a punch, baked beans or potato salad. 

Lilly's Hot Chicken

Lilly's Hot Chicken serves you juicy and crispy chicken with their secret blend of spices just the way you want. Entrees include leg quarters, a Cornish hen fried whole, fish sandwich, chicken tenders and specialties like Jazzy Fries with mild tenders and drizzled with homemade ranch and sprinkled with lemon pepper and sweet heat and the Mac Attack which features chicken tender bites served on mac and cheese and drizzled with ranch. Order fries, collard greens or mac and cheese as your side, but save room for dessert. The peach cobbler is a must.

Red's Hot Chicken

The family-owned Red's Hot Chicken serves tasty hot chicken in a variety of unique ways. For instance, you have to try the hot chicken mac and cheese crunchwrap which features hot chicken, pimento mac and cheese, bacon, pickles and drizzled in comeback sauce that's all wrapped in a toasted tortilla. Or, how about the hot chicken mac and cheese bowl that is classic comfort food? Grab the snack box and dig into the two buttermilk fried chicken tenders or one boneless thigh made to your spice level (Southern to Nashville Fire) topped with pickles and served with a side like mustard potato salad, Cole slaw or pimento mac and cheese.

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