Lannae's Food and Travel

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August 4, 2007

The King of Hot Chicken


I have been wanting to get hot chicken ever since the 4th of July Hot Chicken Festival. It took me a month to finally get some hot chicken from the famous Prince's Hot Chicken in North Nashville. The chicken is skillet fried with a flour batter. I think this is how the colonel wanted his chicken, with a nice thick and crunch crust made from a traditional southern fried chicken method, not that dried out stuff that is now at KFC. Prince's has been around a long time, and holds a special place amongst food in Nashville. Roadfood, the Sterns, has written about, talked about, and broadcasted about Prince's. All the local newpaper food columns have written about Prince's. I am blogging about Prince's. It seems that Prince's Hot Chicken is synonymous with the words hot chicken.

I like how it is served. The chicken is served on a slice of white bread, then a couple of pickles are toothpicked to the top. The guy packing up the chicken then puts a piece of waxed paper on top, and secures it with toothpicks to the bottom waxed paper, so it makes a little baggy that breathes, so the chicken does not become soggy when it travels to home or work to be eaten. I think the bread is about soaking up the grease and doesn't mess up y0our car or table with dripping grease. We got sides of fries and baked beans. The fries were generic krinkle cut fries, but Prince's sprinkled some of the spicy dry rub on the fries to make them tasty. The baked beans was an after though because at about 25 min into waiting I was really getting hungry. I was hoping to just have to cashier ladle out a serving of the beans (1 cup for $1.75) right there and then, and I could eat them 1st. Nope, no deal. She just added on to the order, and I continued to wait. Honestly, the beans were watery, and reminded me of a cheap generic brand of baked beans made from thinned corn syrup, and serves 6 for $0.49. It was not worth it. But then again, I was at a place with "Hot Chicken" in its name, and not baked beans.

This trip, we got 1/2 of a mild-hot chicken. It wasn't that hot, and we will go medium next time. The crust was this thick crust you can only get with skillet fried chicken. The crust had a great flavor all the way through. Hot Chicken is nothing like Buffalo wings, hot wings, or other any other bar food wings or chicken with a "hot" label. Hot Chicken is its own thing, and I believe Hot Chicken is unique to Nashville. Hot chicken almost defies explanation because it is unique, and those who have not had it, there is nothing similar to it.

The chicken is cooked to order, so expect a wait. It takes about 45 min to get a meal. We had plenty of time to sit there, and we were lucky enough to get a seat at one of the booths. We were also lucky enough to go on a day when the AC was working in August. The previous visit, the AC was out, and it was hot like the Hot Chicken. During the wait, we observed the tablecloth for 45 min, and I decided it was appropriate to take a photo of the tablecloth. We were really lucky to get a seat because there were about 25 orders ahead of us, and many of those people were either standing, sitting in their cars, or standing outside talking on their cell phones. Before going to Prince's, I considered bringing a book or magazine because of the wait. I did not, so I ended up looking at the tablecloth during my wait. I did bring my own bottle of water and a travel mug of ice. Prince's sells sodas out of a coin-only soda machine for $1.25. I did look behind the counter and I think it is possible that Prince's may be selling Mountain Dew from behind the counter. But, for the most part, you are on your own for drinks.

What spurred the month long obsession with Prince's Hot Chicken was the 4th of July Hot Chicken Festival. The 1st 400 people got free tastes of Hot Chicken from the 3 leading Hot Chicken vendors, Prince's, 400 Degrees, and Bolton's. We got a taste of each chicken, and Prince's won hands down, and 400 Degrees came in as a second. Sorry Bolton's. Bolton's is actually the closest to my house, but I just don't dig their chicken. Bolton's is more about hot fish. They have hot whiting. What is whiting fish?

A week after the Hot Chicken festival, we drove up to Prince's for dinner. We found it closed for vacation for a week. Dissed I say. Then we drove to 400 Degrees, located on the other end of Trinity Lane. It was after 9 pm at this point, and 400 was closed, and they close at 7 pm! Sigh. Then I just wanted some form of fried chicken that I could toss some hot sauce on to make a weak version of hot chicken, and we drove back to the local KFC (gross I know), and it was closed before we got there. I was lucky because I do not like KFC now that it isn't really the colonel's recipe anymore, and I was spared.

Happily, a month later, I was able to get a taste of the Prince's Hot Chicken. Prince's is the winner of the Hot Chicken taste test that I personally conducted at the Hot Chicken Festival.

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3 Comments:

At 8/6/07, 8:16 AM, Blogger Eric and Katie said...

Prince's definitely still is the best in town, although the others are quite good. It's cool you had a chance to sample the Prince's experience...that wait just seems like part of the gig. I've never tried the beans, but I guess I won't be trying them anytime soon. Next time consider the slaw, it's actually pretty good and goes well with the chicken. I go back and forth between mild and medium. The mild doesn't have much heat, but the flavor is awesome. The medium has a really good kick to it. I feel so bad about having a hot chicken entry on my blog, and not having Prince's reviewed yet that I'll be adding them next week. You can't talk about hot chicken without talking about Prince's first!

 
At 8/6/07, 8:31 AM, Blogger Lannae said...

Hey E&K, totally post your Prince's experience. BTW, the beans are canned, there a tiny little pieces of pork in the beans that look exactly like canned beans pork. So veggie eater, don't eat the beans. I also think that they watered down the canned beans.

 
At 9/26/07, 8:54 AM, Anonymous mr. pink said...

Great blog! Prince's actually does sell drinks from a refrigerated case behind the counter: go for the lemonade with hot chicken, as carbonation just makes it mad. Also, if you go late at night, mild is pretty much medium by that point because the grease is saturated with spice.

 

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