Out of the Frying Pan: Our Picks for Nashville's Best Fried Chicken
Few things shout Southern hospitality like a heaping plate of crisply fried chicken — and Nashville knows how to do hospitality. The fried chicken in Music City runs from the traditional, skillet-fried Sunday version to the now-iconic Nashville hot. Whichever you’re after, these 10 spots are sure to satisfy your craving — and even offer up a little bit of love on the side.
Check out the full gallery for more fried favorites.
You can’t talk about hot chicken without starting at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. Now legendary, the story goes back more than 70 years, when Thornton Prince supposedly returned home from a night of fooling around to find an unhappy other half. Though she tried to exact revenge by rolling his Sunday chicken in a fiery spice blend, Thornton loved the sweat-inducing flavor. The addictively iconic recipe has since been carried forth by Prince’s descendants; it’s now overseen by Andre Prince, who’s held the flame for more than 30 years. The well-worn North Nashville strip-mall joint has a counter at the back where heat seekers order breast or leg quarters, or half or whole chickens that are fried and rubbed in a still-secret incendiary blend that sizzles with herbs and crushed peppers. Running from mild to extra hot, every piece is served over two slices of Colonial white bread and speared with dill pickles.
One of the newest fried-chicken shacks to hit town, Party Fowl offers far more than good poultry: It’s the only place in town that features hot chicken and a full bar, which certainly amps up the fun factor. And while this place doesn’t take itself too seriously (they serve a Bloody Mary topped with enough food for two, including fried Cornish game hens), they don’t kid around when it comes to fried chicken. Their Nashville Hot arrives with crackling skin, juicy meat and thick slices of brioche-like bread. As for the heat, they’ve perfected their levels since opening, offering a wide range that runs from mild to their hottest version, Poultrygeist (beware the ghost peppers).
One of Nashville’s most-revered meat-and-threes, Arnold’s Country Kitchen also wins the prize for its crispiest fried chicken. The secret, says Kahlil Arnold (who now runs the show that was founded by his parents), is all in the breading. After a good, weekend-long brine (water, salt and a dash of hot sauce), the team breads the bird once, refrigerates it for a bit, and then breads it again before frying. The result is a crust that nearly shatters at first bite. A long, lingering kick of pepper runs through the meat, as does a hint of that hot sauce. Only served on Mondays, it’s the proper way to kick off any week in Nashville.
For more winged and fried glory, check out the full gallery of Nashville's top fried-chicken restaurants, then tell us: Where is your favorite fried chicken?