Saturday, November 9, 2013

Road Trip Highlight: 400 Degrees Spicy Chicken

"Nashville. Hot. Chicken." Sally said to me. Dressed like a bottle of sriracha at my Halloween themed goodbye party, she was clearly the authority on spice. Not to mention, Sally happens to be my cook book agent and foodie friend. I had recently developed a rabid love for homemade fried chicken--either takeout from a local grocery store who made them on-site or my gluten-free version with chipotle honey mustard--plus I had a long love affair with spice, so this was a no-brainer. I knew that regardless of where our road trip decided to take us, we had to find Nashville Hot Chicken during our stopover in the city.

My road trip from Massachusetts to Texas was pretty awesome in sights and experiences, but in regards to foodie-ness, my road trip was kind of blah. Most of the time we ended up stopping at chain restaurants just off the highway to save time and money. Brunch was at an Ihop or similar, dinner at a cheesy chain. It was convenient, and the food was tasty, but it wasn't much to write home about.

Thank goodness we took Sally's advice and sought out Hot Chicken once we got to Nashville. While Cory drove, I googled the best spots for hot chicken in the area on my iphone. Though Prince's seemed to reign supreme, another chicken joint caught my eye.

400 Degrees Spicy Chicken's reviews likened it to Prince's, but suggested that their product was an homage and an upgrade all at once. Thicker, crispier skin made possible by deep frying rather than pan frying and a unique spice blend put it in its own category. The story also appealed to me: the owner of the restaurant was a young woman who grew up frequenting Prince's, until she learned how to make her own spicy chicken. I imagined owning my own restaurant, and how much of an accomplishment it would be. I decided this would be our Hot Chicken spot, and I am so impressed with the results.

When we arrived, the food court was nearly empty. "Welcome! Do you like spicy or hot?" said the cheerful woman behind the counter (the owner?). I hesitated, but said spicy. She gave me a quick glance up and down and said, "okay. You should get the 100 degree then." The chicken here is divided into mild, medium, and hot based on degrees (100, 200, and 400 respectively) with 0 degrees for no spice. The chicken is made to order, so despite the food court setting, be prepared to wait. The wait is more than worth it, as you are soon presented with perfectly crispy, glistening hot chicken. I also suggest getting the sides: the beans are highly recommended, and the fries even have a dusting of spice on them. The coleslaw was like what KFC wishes their coleslaw could be--fresh, creamy, and a great palate cleanser between bites of hot chicken. It all was perfect. I chowed down and it was gone in minutes.

The amount of spice on the 100 degree was perfect for me. A light, yet complex spice that disappears with a swig of water. I could have handled the 200 degree for sure, but after a day of running around I wanted to be kind to my digestive system. I would suggest ordering ahead if you are coming here during a lunch or dinner rush though, I can imagine the 20 minute wait can get worse with a line.

This is why I assume the woman who served us was the owner--we told her we were in town on a road trip and she offered us tickets to the Johnny Cash museum. Sadly, we were hitting the road that night and the museum was already closed. However, this was an excellent example of customer service! Everything about this experience was amazing.

If you're in Nashville, take the time to seek out 400 Degrees Spicy Chicken. Located in the food court on the corner of 4th and Peabody, a bit of a walk from the downtown area, it's a great little hidden gem. If I ever find myself in Nashville again, you can bet I'll be here.

Side Note: Settling into Texas life, but job hunting, book proposal re-vamping, and unpacking has the blog low on the priority list. However, if you'd like to see a pretty big life announcement, you should check out my Instagram account and go follow me there. Plus, I've been pretty good at updating my Facebook Page, so while I'm running around like a madwoman, feel free to reach out there! And, if any of my readers is from the Austin area and knows of any PR, Marketing, or Publishing job openings, please let me know :)


  1. It looks from that last picture like you have some pretty big news -- congrats! Also, they developed a recipe for Nashville hot fried chicken at work, so you could always try making your own!

  2. Nashville is one place I've always wanted to visit! Now I must get that chicken! Glad you're settling in :)


  3. i'll have to go here asap! this looks awesome, and i know right where it is. we moved to nashville about a month ago and love it!!

  4. Congrats! I bet there is a big smile on the other end of that photo. :-) Also I want to go to Nashville now just for hot chicken.