Y’all didn’t tell me about Nashville spicy fried chicken. I’ve always heard about it, but no one told me what Nashville spicy really meant. Hattie B’s has been serving up the real deal spicy fried chicken for a while now, but it’s a world away from your typical fried chicken with some spice thrown in. No. This is a whole new type of chicken, and I’m sad I just now found out about it’s glorious flavor. Now that I’ve had legit Nashville chicken, there’s no going back.
So we got into Nashville pretty early. As a matter of fact, “Honky Tonk Highway” hadn’t even opened it’s doors for the day when we arrived. We had been told about Hattie B’s, so we knew it was a go-to stop. But man were we surprised! They’re menu, at face value, is pretty typical for a chicken joint. They have fried chicken, chicken tenders, variations of fries, typical southern sides like grits and potatoes, and sweet tea. I went into the place thinking I was going to get some crispy, breaded fried chicken like you see in so many other restaurants the world over. I was wrong.
Like I said, we got there early. Like, before-noon-lunch early, and there was already a 20 minute line. Hattie B’s has locations across Nashville, but this one at the prominent 5th & Broadway shopping plaza is in the middle of the party. We made it inside and placed our order for “Hot” breasts and wings, the “Dirty Bird Fries,” red-skin potato salad, pimento mac and cheese, chicken and waffles, and cheese grits. Less than ten minutes later, our food was in front of us.
I figured I would start small and take a bite of the cheese grits, and they set the standard for everything else on the table. Even they were spicy. Then I dove right into the actual Nashville Spicy fried chicken, and I fell in love. If you’ve never had it before, don’t go in expecting KFC crunchy breaded chicken. This chicken is almost like the super-spiced Cajun food I’ve had. It’s seasoned incredibly heavy with all kinds of flavor that compliments the chicken instead of overpowering it, and though it’s got some heat, it’s SO GOOD. If it gets too hot, there is always the Nashville Comeback Sauce that they give you. The Comeback Sauce works like ranch dressing does for hot wings: it brings you back so you can keep eating. It’s good and it does it’s job; I won’t claim it’s the most flavorful sauce I’ve ever had, but it isn’t trying to be that. It just does it’s job of cooling your mouth off so you can keep stuffing the hot chicken down.
I entered this place thinking I’d get some rehashed version of every fried chicken recipe I’ve ever had, and I was happily mistaken. I love spicy food, and this was a totally new flavor. Plus, if you’re not a big fan of breaded fried chicken, you’ll love Hattie B’s. Their birds are less Popeye’s and more backyard party fried chicken with some dude’s secret spice added.
The boys loved the chicken and waffles, but the other standout was the Dirty Bird Fries. They’re crinkle-cut fries with Hattie B’s pimento mac and cheese, spicy chicken, pickles, and other toppings piled onto a plate. They could make a meal on their own, and they were a wonderful, Nashville take on the typical loaded fries recipe. Between those and the actual hot chicken, I was panting. This food was amazing. Y’all have to go.
The whole vibe was really neat. This particular location was hoppin’ from the moment they opened, and it fit right in with Nashville’s party scene on Broadway a.k.a. Honky Tonk Highway. That being said, if you want to take the kids here or to Broadway in general, just go early. It’s busy all the time, but before 4 P.M. it’s not too crazy for a family atmosphere. Hattie B’s had good music blasting, super tasty fried chicken, and a ton of distinguished sides that make for a true Nashville experience. If you find yourself anywhere near Music City, hit up one of the Hattie B’s. You and your taste buds will be glad you did!