Get ready, Denver: The Budlong, the popular fried-chicken purveyor from Chicago, is ready to start dishing out hot chicken sandwiches starting this afternoon. It's going to be hot, both literally and figuratively.
The Budlong specializes in traditional Nashville hot chicken, both in sandwich form and whole pieces; "naked" fried chicken served the same way; sides such as biscuits, collard greens, macaroni and cheese and red potato salad; Texas toast and tons of homemade pickles. All you have to do is roll into Ratio Beerworks (2920 Larimer Street) in RiNo between 4:30 and 10 p.m. to get your fill from the Budlong food truck parked out front. Grab some hot chicken and a pint of the brewery's crisp Antidote IPA, and see why Nashville-style hot chicken is such a winning dish.
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Chef/owner Jared Leonard's hot chicken could be the closest to the real deal you'll find in town. His version is based on years of research and sampling in Tennessee and working on perfecting a recipe. He brought his vision to Chicago in 2016 and over time has spread his tasty bird all across that city. Leonard's restaurant group, Stone Soup Collective (which also runs another Chicago-based mini-chain called BBQ Supply Co. and Denver's Au Feu in Zeppelin Station), has opened five Budlong Hot Chicken shops, with this food truck being his first in Colorado.
So far the Denver schedule beyond today hasn't been set, but fans will be able to find the food truck from 5 to 9 p.m. every other Wednesday between May 30 and August 22 at the Evergreen Lake House (29612 Upper Bear Creek Road, Evergreen) during the town's free summer concert series. Otherwise, expect to see the red and white truck at metro breweries on other days of the week.
If the bird takes off as quickly as it did in Chicago, Leonard could be eyeing expansion into a brick-and-mortar location soon. Until then, follow that truck!