Why Nashville Hot Chicken Is on Fire!

Originally conceived at Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville, hot chicken was created in the 1950’s. The traditional recipe is essentially dry-brined chicken that’s deep-fried and tossed in a sweet-spicy sauce made from cayenne and brown sugar. It’s become iconic in the city of its birth, spawning numerous like-minded peppery descendants. Now, like everything else in the Southern culinary canon, the dish is blowing up all over the United States at places like LA’s Howlin’s Ray’s truck and Carla Hall’s upcoming Brooklyn joint. Even the fast-food franchise is getting in on the action: Yum! Brands debuted an upscale fast-casual chicken joint, Super Chix, in 2014, which also offers Nashville hot. Even KFC has added it to the menu to offset sluggish sales. Here are 11 chef-driven and down-home versions to try all across the U.S.

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Joella’s Hot Chicken in Louisville, KY

Opened in Louisville, Kentucky, in September 2015, this ode to spicy bird is on a massive quest for expansion. In January it debuted in Lexington, Kentucky, and it already has plans for stores in Indiana, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Washington DC. It’s been so popular that when the Lexington location opened, people camped out overnight in the snow, to line up for 100 passes offering free chicken for a year. The reason: high-quality, Southern fried chicken offered in six levels of spice paired with from-scratch sides like mac ‘n’ cheese, sweet-vinegar slaw and black-eyed pea salad.

Source: ZAGAT