No. 51: Nashville Hot Chicken at Lou's Food Bar 1851 West 38th Avenue 303-458-0336
On a recent trip to Nashville, Tennessee to scout potential locations for a new incarnation of his East Coast-style deli, Salt & Grinder, Frank Bonanno sampled his way through some of the city's hot chicken, a distinct, extra-spicy style of deep-fried bird that originated at Prince's Hot Chicken but spread to several other joints, becoming one of the Music City's iconic dishes. Bonanno was so enamored of the fiery, crunchy chicken that he came up with his own recipe and put it on the menu at Lou's.
Lou's kitchen, headed by chef Ryan Higgins, preps the dish by cutting up whole chickens and marinating the parts in buttermilk. After a dredge in a seasoned flour mixture, the pieces are deep-fried to a shattering, golden crisp. You can order the fried chicken naked, medium or hot, but if you want the Nashville experience, hot is the way to go. With either the medium or hot, the crunchy coating gets a dose of bright red chili oil, which penetrates the crust down to the moist meat inside without making it soggy.
Sure, it's messy -- but that's why the chicken is served on squares of plain white bread. By the time you're done, the bread will have taken on an orange hue, along with you're lips, fingers and anything else the chicken touches. You can get a half-chicken with a single side; fries or a salad will do, but the black-eyed peas seem the most appropriate -- as does a cold beer to cool your tongue.
In advance of the Best of Denver 2015, we're loading our plates with contenders for the best dishes in the city. And over the next few months, we'll be sharing many of them with you, counting down (in no particular order) one hundred of our favorite dishes before the the Best of Denver 2015 hits the streets on March 26. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2014 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Chile Relleno at La Fiesta No. 99: Gurage Kitfo at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant No. 98: Cochinita Pibil at Work & Class No. 97: The Greggers Tongue Sandwich at Olive & Finch No 96: Baum Cakes at Glaze by Sasa No. 95: Goat hot pot from Viet's No 94: Head cheese from Beast + Bottle No. 93: Kettle Chips from Amerigo Delicatus No. 92: Pork Belly Confit at Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar No. 91: Tacos Campechanos from La Calle Taqueria No. 90: Biscuits from Denver Biscuit Co. No. 89: Clams and Chorizo at Gozo No. 88: Aburi Sushi at Sushi Den and Izakaya Den No. 87: Kimchi and Sausage Torta at City, O' City No. 86: Mar y Tierra Molcajete at Paxia No. 85: Crispy Pork Spare Ribs at Table Top No. 84: Chips and Dip at Euclid Hall No. 83: Chile Relleno Burrito at El Taco de Mexico No. 82: Scallop Crudo at Stoic & Genuine No. 81: Ceylon Curry Dosa at Khazana No. 80: The Lambada Torta at La Torteria No. 79: Pork Bulgogi at Dae Gee No. 78: the Pulled Pork Pig Pen Sandwich at Boney's No. 77: IPA Mac & Cheese at Hops & Pie No. 76: Chiles en Nogada at Chili Verde No. 75: Udon Noodle Bowl at Bones No. 74: Cinnamon Rolls at the Duffeyroll Cafe No. 73: Smoked Turkey Croque-Madame at Acorn No. 72: Pickled Lake Michigan Perch at Trillium No. 71: Oysters at Jax Fish House Glendale No. 70: Venezuelan Tostadas at Empanada Express Grill No. 69: Tahini Cauliflower from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs No. 68: The Ham and Cheese Tartita from Maria Empanada No. 67: Ronnie's Favorite from Rosenberg's Bagels and Deli No. 66: Shoo-fly Pie from the Long i Pie Shop No. 65: Czech Potato Pancakes at Sobo 151 No. 64: Fried Chicken at the Post Brewing Co. No. 63: Braised Brisket Sandwich at Masterpiece Delicatessen No. 62: The Scotch Egg from Argyll Whisky Beer No. 61: Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's No. 60: Sesame Balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery No. 59: Curry Puffs at Suvipa Thai Food No. 58: Diavola Pizza at Pizzeria Locale No. 57: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe No. 56: The Rare Beast Sandwich at Salt & Grinder No. 55: 48-Hour Short Ribs at Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery No. 54: Marrow Bone Brulee at Mercantile Dining & Provision No. 53: Prawns and Pork Belly at Blackbelly Market No 52: Belgian Waffles from Waffle Up