Can you take the heat? Nashville hot chicken has hit Charlotte

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Courtesy of The Waterman Fish Bar
Nashville hot chicken

Nashville hot chicken, one of the nation’s hottest culinary trends, has made its way to Charlotte restaurants. Hot chicken is made by adding cayenne pepper sauce to traditionally breaded fried chicken, creating a delicious afterburn in the southern food staple.

According to Andre Prince of Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville in an interview with NPR, the dish originated in Nashville in the 1930’s after her great-uncle Thornton Prince’s girlfriend attempted revenge on her lover’s womanizing ways. One night, after Prince returned home suspiciously late, she decided to sneak a large dose of hot cayenne pepper into his fried chicken. Although she thought it would be a painfully spicy surprise, Prince loved the recipe so much that he opened up his own restaurant specializing in the new dish. 

Hot chicken quickly gained a following in Nashville, and over the past few years it has become a national sensation.

“I think it’s popular for the same reason that hot wings are popular,” said Jeff Tonidandel, head chef at Haberdish. “The heat with the fried skin goes really well together, and [the flavors] play off each other really well.” 

Try the dish for yourself at one of the following Charlotte restaurants:

(1) Haberdish

3106 N. Davidson St. 

Courtesy of Haberdish

Haberdish puts a Charlottean spin on traditional Nashville hot chicken. The chicken is served on white bread with bread and butter pickles made in the Haberdish kitchen and covered in a special honey-thickened hot sauce for an extra kick ($12). Tonidandel recommends you round out your hot chicken meal with a side of collard greens ($7) or house-made tater tots ($4-8) and a refreshing mint julip ($10). 

(2) Killer B’s

2902 The Plaza 

Photo by Brian Twitty Photography

Killer B’s global fusion street food truck — with a permanent location outside Tip Top Daily Market — offers a unique take on hot chicken with their Nashville Katsu sandwich ($8), featuring a panko-fried hot chicken filet with pickled mayo wrapped in a biscuit. Vegetarians can try a version of this dish by substituting tofu for chicken for no extra cost. Pair your biscuit with the grilled elote salad, made of sweet corn, arugula, topped with cotija cheese and jalapeno ($6) or Japanese-seasoned bacon-topped Okonomiyaki fries ($5-9) for a complete meal. 

(3) NC Red

1205 Thomas Ave.

Courtesy of NC Red

NC Red’s head chef grew up in Nashville eating hot chicken and has developed his own safely-guarded secret recipe. A half Nashville Hot is $17, and for an additional $17, you can add two sides, such as Hoppin John topped with rice cake and smoky baked mac and cheese, plus four biscuits for a hearty meal. Be sure to save room for the local hand pie of the day for dessert ($7). 

(4) Reid’s Fine Foods

4331 Barclay Downs Dr.; 2823 Selwyn Ave.

Courtesy of Reid’s

Reid’s take on hot chicken is served sandwich-style on a bun with comeback sauce, a Mississippi-inspired version of remoulade sauce, with pickles and a side of house-made potato chips ($14). Finish up your meal with a piece of 12-layer caramel cake ($7) or stop by on Wednesday for a half-priced glass of wine. 

(5) The Waterman Fish Bar

2729 South Blvd., Suite D

Waterman’s serves up a hot chicken sandwich inspired by famous Nashville chain Hattie B’s version of the sandwich, consisting of a spicy chicken filet with lettuce, tomato, housemade pickles and mayo on a potato bun ($13). The sandwich is served with a choice of house made fries or slaw. Start with a few house oysters ($1 each) and sip a frozen Tequila Hummingbird, made of El Jimador Reposado Tequila, orange liqueur, Old Forester Hummingbird bitters, grapefruit, lemon and lime to cool off from the spicy sandwich ($10).

Where have you tried Nashville hot chicken in Charlotte, and what did you think? Let us know in the comments.

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