Eight Nashville Hot Chicken Dishes Spicing Up Denver

Steuben's hot chicken with a ton of dill pickles.EXPAND
Steuben's hot chicken with a ton of dill pickles.
Linnea Covington

Though it's been slow to come, Denver has been getting into the Nashville hot chicken trend as more and more places have started serving up this spicy Southern staple. Given the dish's natural heat, it's not surprising that Coloradans are taking to the dish. We do, after all, love a bit of spice in our food.

But what makes hot chicken different from a piece of fried bird slathered with hot sauce, or spicy Buffalo-style wings? To start with, the origins of the creation, which dates back to the 1930s and hails from Tennessee. Most food historians agree that Andre Prince Jeffries, owner of Prince's Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville, popularized the dish at her now-famous chicken joint in the 1980s, and today you can find hot chicken all over Tennessee and beyond. Traditionally the main heat comes from a generous dose of cayenne pepper that's made into a paste and slathered on the freshly fried wings, thighs, legs and breasts. It should have somewhat of a saucy quality, and enough heat that you will want the usual pairing of sour pickle slices and Texas toast to help dull the pain.

Although not every Denver rendition proves true to form, these eight places (listed in alphabetical order) are serving up spicy chicken dishes that pay homage to the Nashville great.

Hot chicken at Ester's.EXPAND
Hot chicken at Ester's.
Linnea Covington

Esters Neighborhood Pub
1950 South Holly Street
303-955-4143

Although this Virginia Village joint specializes in pizza, you can also find a super-spicy Nashville hot chicken during brunch. Each $14 plate comes with a couple of pieces of the crispy bird, slices of white bread, pickles and a side of braised collard greens. With a deep heat penetrating the sizzling skin, this option is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. You'll need those pickles to cool the spice. And since the dish is only offered during weekend brunch, make sure you get to this hopping neighborhood eatery early to snag a seat.

The Nashville hot chicken sandwich at Fire on the Mountain.EXPAND
The Nashville hot chicken sandwich at Fire on the Mountain.
Linnea Covington

Fire on the Mountain
3801 West 32nd Avenue
303-480-9464

If you want a little fire on your tongue, Micah's Nashville Hot Chicken will satisfy anyone looking for a spicy sandwich. This boneless version comes as a soft brioche bun stuffed with a house-breaded, country-style chicken breast with the restaurant's signature Nashville-style hot sauce coating each bite. Cool the heat with slightly sweet housemade pickles piled on top. The sandwich packs a flavor that would make any homesick Southerner craving a hot chicken fix happy. Take your bird to go, or plop down in this laid-back Highland hideaway and order a good craft beer to wash it all down.

Lou's Hot Naked
Downtown Denver, coming soon

Unfortunately this place isn't yet open, or really even built. But for fans of Lou's who miss the recently closed Sunnyside restaurant, you can get excited about Frank Bonanno's upcoming project, Lou's Hot Naked. "I want to focus on what we did at Lou's with the chicken," says Bonanno. " I think our recipe was pretty killer, and it was the most popular dish." The restaurateur says there will be an amazing chicken sandwich, fried chicken by the piece, whole and half chickens, and rotisserie chicken as well. Of course, given the name of the new joint, you can also expect hot chicken just like Lou's used to serve. Bonanno says guests can expect spicy things to come this November.

Chicken two ways: Regular fried on the left, the Nashville hot on the right.EXPAND
Chicken two ways: Regular fried on the left, the Nashville hot on the right.
Linnea Covington

The Post Chicken and Beer
2200 Broadway, 720-466-5699
1258 South Hover Road, Longmont, 720-588-2883

Of all the hot chicken Denver has to offer, chef Brett Smith's might be the truest to Nashville form. It's crispy, saucy, and hot enough to warrant an extra biscuit or two to help tame the heat. True, it's not as fiery as you might find in Tennessee, but that's okay — because the flavor rings true and you can actually taste both the juicy meat and the spices used to adorn the dish. Get it in half-chicken form, as a ten-piece platter of mixed parts, or the whole bird. You can also sample the hot chicken inside the Post's fried chicken banh mi, a fun Southern take on the Vietnamese sandwich. As a bonus, all the fried chicken is gluten-free.

Keep reading for more hot chicken options.



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