Restaurants with Nashville Chicken Sandwich

It should not be surprising that restaurants offering a Nashville Chicken Sandwich are on the rise. Offering unique regional food in restaurants is fairly normal. Restaurants offer Korean dishes, Italian favorites, Mediterranean staples, and even southern home-cooking. You name it, there is a restaurant that includes it on a menu. Therefore, with the increasing popularity of this Nashville specialty, more restaurants are adding this item to their menu.

Where Did the Nashville Chicken Sandwich Originate?

According to André Prince Jeffries, the current owner of Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, the origin of the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich is an amusing anecdote. BBQ Chicken Shack café was owned by Jefferies’ great uncle, Thornton Prince III. His restaurant began serving the famous sandwich in the mid-1930s.

The way the story is told (although there are no official records to verify the truthfulness), Thornton Prince III was quite the womanizer. His then-girlfriend, angry about a late night out, prepared a fried chicken breakfast for Jeffries’ great-uncle Thornton. As an bit of revenge for him staying out so late the previous night, she added extra pepper. A lot of extra pepper.

She should have paid heed to the old adage, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Great-uncle Thornton LOVED the spicy breakfast chicken! In fact, he liked it enough to partner with his brothers, create his own recipe, and open the BBQ Chicken Shack café. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Nashville Hot Chicken is a part of the Nashville night life. Restaurants with a Nashville Chicken Sandwich on the menu are frequently packed with customers until the wee hours of the morning. The popularity of this menu item is not limited to Nashville, or even to the south.

In Mahopac, New York, chef-owner Alex Asadoorian of the Chicken Coop has created his own version of this southern favorite. His semi-famous version of the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich offers a taste of the south in Putnam County. They even include an “extra spicy” option on the menu!

What Makes a Nashville Chicken Sandwich Unique?

Although Nashville Hot Chicken is most often a sandwich these days, it wasn’t always. The original Nashville Hot Chicken was pretty much any bits and pieces of the bird — thighs, legs, breasts, and wings. It is still served this way in Nashville restaurants. The key to its unique taste derives from the preparation.

The first step is to marinate the chicken in buttermilk. Breading is a key part of the process before frying the chicken. When it comes out of the deep fryer or pan is when the magic happens. There are no secret ingredients or specific measurements for the spices. Every restaurant prepares it slightly differently.

The magic involves applying a cayenne pepper-based paste to the outside of the cooked chicken. Each restaurant has its own blend of spices to make up the paste, or “dry” sauce. In fact, some restaurants offer varying degrees of heat from mild to five alarm (super hot).

Nashville Hot Chicken, when served as a sandwich, is a boneless breast. Although the original recipes rest the chicken on a thick slice of white bread, it is also great on a Brioche bun, sesame-seed bun, or a sub-type roll. One of the key items on the plate or bun is the addition of pickles. Some establishments rely on the dry sauce, while others add a sprinkling of extra cayenne pepper over the sauce.

Chef Asadoorian at the Chicken Coop serves his sandwich on a toasted brioche bun with pickle chips, coleslaw, and his specialty comeback sauce.

Where Can You Find This Specialty in Nashville?

We couldn’t find a specific number of restaurants in Nashville that offer hot chicken in one form or another. There are at least two dozen restaurants offering this signature dish, though. Among them, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack holds a place of honor. As the “founding” source of this spicy dish, all is as it should be.

Hattie B’s is probably the next most famous. They serve chicken — just chicken. With options ranging from Southern-style with no spice to the fieriest version named “Shut the Cluck Up” which includes “insane spice.” They currently have two locations in Nashville, but are looking at expansion opportunities.

Other Nashville restaurants offering the famous chicken dish:

Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish (two locations)
Arnold’s Country Kitchen (only served on Mondays)
Party Fowl (beware the ghost peppers in their hottest version — Poultrygeist)
Husk (only available at the Nashville location and only at lunchtime)
Sinema (topped with an egg in true breakfast fashion!)
Pinewood Social (a social spot with bowling lanes and family activities)

Although there are many more restaurants in Nashville that offer some form of this awesome dish, our list will get you on the way to a wonderfully tasty vacation.

Finding a Nashville Chicken Sandwich Outside of Nashville

Finding Nashville Hot Chicken outside of Nashville continues to get easier. Since 2012, the dish has gone from popularity within a small area of Nashville to being a nationwide favorite. The popularity increase may be the result of television food shows. It may have happened naturally as tourists travel and share experiences. One thing is for certain — Nashville Hot Chicken is here to stay.

From budding franchises such as Nashville Hot Chicken to chefs creating their own version like Chef Asadoorian in New York, this chicken dish is destined for great things.

Recipe to Make a Nashville Chicken Sandwich

There doesn’t appear a specific recipe for hot chicken. The key take-away seems to be spices — lots of hot spices. Some restaurants rely on old standards like cayenne peppers, while others have gone to haunting heights by using notoriously hot ghost peppers.

Whatever spices are in use for the hot, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is the texture. Nashville Hot Chicken should have a crunchy coating, aided by the buttermilk bath and choice of breading. Every chef seems to have their own personal secret for arriving at that crunch.

Whether you enjoy mild spices or the super-hot version, the differences mean that you can enjoy Nashville Hot Chicken every day and never have the same experience. As long as the heat doesn’t overwhelm the underlying flavor, there is no limit on the available variations.

Restaurants with Nashville Chicken Sandwich in New York

If you happen to be in Mahopac, New York, stop by the Chicken Coop. Taste the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich creation of Chef Asadoorian and let us know what you think!