Pepperfire Hot Chicken

Pepperfire Hot Chicken
1000 Gallatin Avenue Suite C
Nashville, TN 37206

Phone: 615.582.4824
Web: www.pepperfirehotchicken.com

Hours: 
Mon – Wed: 11A – 9P
Thu – Sat: 11A – 10P
Sun – Closed

Today, I had my first Nashville-Style-Hot-Chicken experience. In fact, it would be more precise to say I am STILL having my first Nashville-Style-Hot-Chicken experience. I had lunch at Pepperfire Hot Chicken in East Nashville, and I can still – nine hours later – feel a warm “glow” in my stomach.

During the drive to East Nashville from my office, my good friend Pat Reilly explained to me the basics of Nashville-Style-Hot-Chicken, at least as far as Pepperfire is concerned. While they serve everything from Southernfied (no heat) to XX Hot (“it will jump on you and won’t let go”), we decided the Hot version was the best option for my first visit.

I ordered – as did Pat – the three-tender basket with two sides. I got potato salad and baked beans, while Pat ordered potato salad and french fries. Each order was served on top of a piece of white bread (don’t judge!) and came with a side of ranch dressing, which came in VERY handy.

First, let me speak to the quality of the chicken tenders. They were very lightly breaded, and each one was plump and juicy. These might have been the biggest chicken tenders I’ve ever eaten. Now…the heat. As I took my first bite, Pat said, “the heat starts slow and builds from there.” Man, was he ever right. As I chewed that first bite, I thought, “this isn’t too bad.” Boy, was I ever wrong! The heat did build, and it continued to build, for the first several bites. After that, Pat said, “it’s gotten as bad as it’s going to get, so if you’re okay, you’re okay.” Once again, he was right. I finished the entire meal – dipping each bite into the ranch dressing, and I loved every minute of it. Although, one could argue I paid for it the rest of the afternoon.

I’m not really sure how to explain the heat, other than to say it’s not hot for the sake of being hot. The heat definitely has a pepper flavor to it, and it doesn’t taste anything like the hot chicken wings you get at the national “fern bars” or wing restaurants. The spice at Pepperfire is the creation of owner and founder Isaac Beard, who worked for years to fine tune his spice blend. And Isaac is doing something right. Pepperfire has been featured on Travel Channel’s Chowdown Countdown, and it’s been named one of Nashville’s six authentic hot chicken restaurants by the Hot Chicken Coalition. I’m not sure who they are, but they must be pretty important in the world of hot chicken, right? At any rate, they have good taste in hot chicken.

Now, back to the heat. Unless you like walking around all day with a warm “glow” in your stomach, you might want to tap the brakes and go with Medium or Mild. If you want just a little heat, try the Light Mild. Or if you’re a total sissy, go with the Southernfied, which has no heat, but excellent chicken. If tenders aren’t your thing, you can order wings, or leg quarters, or breast quarters. You can even get a whole chicken. For a look at the entire menu, which features something called the Tender Royale (tenders atop a grilled cheese – yes, please!), click here.

I absolutely recommend a visit to Pepperfire Hot Chicken. If you’ve never had Nashville-Style-Hot-Chicken (couldn’t we have come up with a shorter name for it?), it’s a great place to start. If you’ve had NSHC (see what I did there?), it’s a wonderful place to continue your hot chicken journey.

Pepperfire Hot Chicken Tenders

Pepperfire Hot Chicken Tenders

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