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Kelly Hays
Created byKelly Hays

This Bird Is on Fire: Nashville Hot Chicken

Featured Guide
Local legend has it that hot chicken was invented when an angry girlfriend served fried chicken laced with mouth-searing spices as a punishment to her womanizing man. The veracity of the legend may be in doubt, but the ferocity of the chicken is not. Hot chicken has become a popular food trend in recent years, but you don't need to cheat on your girlfriend to enjoy this sweet burn, just your diet. Here's a round up of Nashville hot chicken (and pork) (and fish) joints, guaranteed to set your tastebuds on fire. 
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THE CATBIRD SEAT

If you've heard of The Catbird Seat, then you probably know it's Nashville's hottest haute cusine restaurant. And if you know that, then you're probably wondering why I'd include it in my hot chicken guide. Well, there's two reasons: First, it's an amazing restaurant, and any foodie worth her salt...

Hattie B's Hot Chicken

Probably my favorite of the "new" hot chicken places, Hattie B's offers one thing in particular that all the other joints lack: beer on draught. If you've never had the pleasure of cooling a hot chicken burn with cold craft beer, you haven't lived. Hattie B's chicken isn't as spicy as Bolton's or...

Prince's Hot Chicken Shack

The grandaddy and forebear of all Nashville hot chicken, Prince's is the original, and to most, still the best. They set the benchmark for spiciness and are probably the spiciest of all the hot chicken joints. Recognized by the James Beard Foundation as an American Classic in 2013, this place is fast...

Pasgetti's

A tiny little family restaurant located in a trailer in the parking lot of a Bellvue strip mall, Pasgetti's doesn't look like much. But there's a reason why they've been around for decades. A weird little joint with a gigantic menu, Pasgetti's serves a combination of Italian and Southern dishes,...

Bolton's Spicy Chicken & Fish

Bolton's is the second oldest (and probably second most popular) hot chicken joint in Nashville. Prince's may get more attention, but Bolton's has something they don't have: fish. If you're not big on fried chicken, Bolton's spicy fish is the perfect way for you to experience the kickin, searing...

400 Degrees

400 degrees has been around long enough to pass the "flash in the pan" test-- it's been serving a "trendy" food for few years and hasn't gone under. They offer their sandwiches in varying levels of heat that range from 100-400 degrees. I've never tried the 400 because the 200 is enough to make my eyes...

Music City Hot Chicken Festival

This yearly festival gathers all the hot chicken in town (and everything hot chicken-related) in one place. It takes place every year on July 4th, so it's a great way to spend the day, igniting some fireworks in your mouth before heading out to watch fireworks at night. Voted the best local food even in...

Pepperfire Hot Chicken

Let's get something straight: Pepperfire's "hot chicken sandwich" is not the same as Prince's or Bolton's. At those places, what they call a "sandwich" is bone-in fried chicken that's only tangentially a sandwich because it happens to sit atop a piece of white bread that soaks up all the spices and...

Hampton Inn & Suites Nashville Downtown

If you want a room with a balcony downtown, there is literally only one place you can go - The Hampton Inn & Suites. I'm not sure what the laws are that restrict balconies, but the Hampton Inn & Suites is the only one that has them. Like all Hampton Inns they've also got an amazing hot breakfast with all the...

Two Boots Pizza

Part of a chain with only a few franchises in NY and select other cities, Two Boots serves pizza by the pie and by the slice with regional specialties and varieties. In Nashville, my favorite is the Kitty Wells-- a pizza version of our famous hot chicken, with jalapenos and blue cheese sauce. They've...