Nashville hot chicken — the spice of life

Nashville day-trip visitors looking to choose a hot chicken restaurant might find themselves in a bit of a pickle–selecting just one spot. So what’s the solution? Make more stops and share with a friend!

There are solid standbys like the trendy Hattie B’s and the original Nashville institution, Prince’s. And there are at least 10 other restaurants that specialize in hot chicken, with the firey entrée popping up on even more menus more every day.

This weekend, my husband and I decided to have hot chicken from Helen’s and Big Shake’s delivered to our Music City hotel room.

My husband, a fan of spicy foods, jumped at the chance to order Helen’s Hella Hot. While eating the first couple of bites, he seemed to be enjoying the flavor. However, a few moments later, I couldn’t help but notice him gulping down his Splenda-sweetened tea and reaching into our mini fridge for some Halo Top ice cream. After I teased him a little, he admitted the chicken had earned its name. Knowing he has a high tolerance level, I was afraid, but, when in Nashville, eat the hot chicken. Indeed, the Hella Hot bit back. I joined him in extinguishing the flames with ice cream.

After our tongues stopped smoldering, we dove into a piece of Big Shake’s next-to-hottest flavor, Rambo, and the medium spice-level Stop-Drop-and-Roll. Rambo did not leave either of us breathing smoke but did have a very good flavor, and Stop-Drop-and-Roll’s heat was even tamer. We shared the opinion that Big Shake’s breading and amount of crispiness were perfect. Also, we were impressed by the extra cheesy macaroni and cheese and the Belgian waffle we used for sopping up the extra sauce. Big Shake’s also boasted what my husband referred to as probably the best beans he’s enjoyed in his life — no small praise!

While not an inferno ala Helen’s, Big Shake’s was delicious. We look forward to visiting both restaurants in-person and continuing our mission to try as many Nashville Hot Chicken restaurants as possible. 

If you find yourself in the greater Nashville area, there are several Helen’s Hot Chicken and Big Shake’s Hot Chicken locations dotting the map. Check their sites for business hours, current pricing and a list of affiliated delivery services.