Nashville’s Flaming Staple: How to Survive a Hot Chicken Experience in Music City
Drenched in a spicy concoction, hot chicken is a dish unique to Nashville. Restaurants across Music City specialize in serving up hot chicken, a dish that no palate, nor stomach for that matter, should take lightly. Before you blindly order this gut-wrenching, mouth-flaming course, you will want to know a little bit more about the heat this dish serves. As the history behind the famous meal notes, this is a not-to-be-missed Nashville experience.
What Is Hot Chicken?
In order to survive a hot chicken experience in Music City, you must know what you are getting yourself into by ordering the signature dish. Hot chicken is characterized as fried chicken cooked up in an iron skillet. It is drenched in spices, most notably cayenne. However, every establishment tends to have their own way of making the spicy rub. Hot chicken is generally served resting on white bread and garnished with a pickle. In most of Nashville’s hot chicken eateries, you can order hot chicken by the spice level. Be aware that hot chicken is not for the stubborn. Even if you think you can handle spicy food, hot chicken tends to create a lasting fire in the stomach. It is best to work your way up to the hottest of chickens rather than to try the hottest variety on your first taste.
How Did Hot Chicken Come About in Nashville?
In the U.S. South, you would expect barbecue and Southern cuisine but maybe not the spiciest of chicken. Hot chicken and Nashville have had a relationship since the 1930s. As legend goes, the girlfriend of Thorton Prince wanted to get back at her boyfriend for being out all night. She laced his fried chicken with a fiery, spicy rub. While intended as an act of revenge, Prince ended up loving her creation. Eventually he would open up Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville to serve his sweetie’s fiery revenge to the masses. After Prince’s opening, other hot chicken restaurants caught on in town.
Where Can I Sample Hot Chicken?
Nashville is home to both specialized hot chicken establishments and restaurants serving the dish. If you want to experience Nashville’s signature dish in its truest form, you have to frequent some of the key players. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is the oldest and original in town. They will also dissuade first timers from ordering the “hot” flavor. Even the medium chicken is fiery and eye-watering. Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish is another popular hot chicken shack in town. The owner worked at Prince’s before branching out on his own to create Bolton’s. Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, 400 Degrees and Pepperfire Hot Chicken are also popular hot chicken eateries to try in Music City.
When Can I Have More?
If you can survive a few hot chicken samplings in Nashville and actually crave more, you might want to come back to town for the Music City Hot Chicken Festival. Held every year appropriately on the 4th of July, fireworks take place in visitors’ mouths for the spicy event. Nashville’s hot chicken players are all present for the festival. In addition to sampling the city’s best hot chicken in one spot, you can also witness the amateur cooking competition and plenty of musical performances.
With a mouth on fire and a stomach also feeling the burn, you can seek refuge in your Extended Stay America suite. And for those who survive and fall for hot chicken, you can heat up those hot chicken leftovers in your own personal kitchen.
Explore Chicago with the Road Warrior
Back in 2008, Chicago burst onto the national stage because of the election of President Barack Obama, who formed his political character in that great Midwestern city. The city, which has for a long time been known as “the second city” (a name that inspired the Chicago-based improv and sketch comedy group known as The Second City), has a character that is first-rate in a number of ways. It has long been a no-nonsense town with no time to waste on putting on airs. This does not mean that there is no great art and culture in Chicago. In fact, there is much world-class art and culture there. It just means that Chicago is secure enough in its accomplishments to not be snooty about them.
The Chicago History Museum is currently celebrating one of Chicago’s favorite daughters—publishing powerhouse Eunice W. Johnson. Along with her husband John H. Johnson, she started Ebony and Jet—arguably the two most powerful African American publications during the second half of the twentieth century. Johnson also started the Ebony Fashion Fair. The fair began in 1958 as a fundraiser for a hospital and continued as a vehicle of African American empowerment and a promotional tool for Ebony and Jet until a year before Johnson’s death in 2010. Before the Ebony Fashion Fair, it was extremely rare to see an African American model on the runway. The Chicago History Museum’s exhibition Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair tells the whole story of Johnson’s achievement—from her difficult childhood in segregated Selma, Alabama, to her assumption of the role of fashion show director and producer in 1963. Additionally, there are sixty works of fashion art on display—pieces of clothing that were actually worn on the Ebony Fashion Fair runway.
The Second City
The Second City comedy troupe is responsible for a number of the past fifty years’ funniest comedians. The list of funny folks with household names who were in the company just goes on and on: Tina Fey, Martin Short, Gilda Radner, Stephen Colbert, John Candy, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Steve Carell, and many others. A show that the theater is currently running, The Best of the Second City, gives you a chance to see the greatest sketches ever performed by the best Second City troupes. See the sketches performed by the greats that got the most laughs. You can’t be there to see comedy greats like Murray, Fey, and Colbert as they were getting their starts. But seeing this show is getting pretty close.
The Court Theatre presents works that have achieved the status of classics, but in entirely fresh ways. August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, which won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play in 1996, is running from January 9th to February 9th. Part murder mystery, part meditative story of the bluesy lives of a group of African Americans in Pittsburg during the mid-twentieth century, the play is both thrilling and touching.
After a day exploring Chicago’s fabulous array of arts and culture, you’ll be ready to explore your hotel suite and get comfy. Extended Stay America provides the perfect place to discuss your day with friends and family.