3704 Clarksville Pike
Nashville, TN 37218
Tue – Fri: 11A – 7P
Sat: 12P – 5P
Sun – Mon: Closed
I’m admittedly late to the Nashville Hot Chicken party. By the time I figured out Nashville Hot Chicken was a thing, it was already a big thing. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I didn’t know about Nashville Hot Chicken until a couple of years ago. Maybe I spent too much time in the suburbs. For lack of a better reason, we’ll chalk it up to that.
But now that I’ve arrived at the party, I’m having a blast. I think these Nashville Hot Chicken folks might be on to something. Not those KFC people, mind you, but the real hot chicken people. They are making Nashville proud.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Aqui Hines, owner of 400 Degrees and purveyor of some of Nashville’s most popular hot chicken. Aqui is a Nashville native and a graduate of Tennessee State University. After talking with her for less than 30 minutes, I knew I had to try her chicken. So I did. The very next day. The only reason I didn’t go immediately after meeting her is I met her on a Monday, and her restaurant is closed on Mondays.
Aqui Hines (formerly Aqui Simpson) started 400 Degrees about 12 years ago. She modeled her chicken after her favorite Nashville Hot Chicken, Prince’s. Aqui put her own twist on the recipe and operated primarily out of rented space on Peabody Street in Nashville. Along the way, she built quite a reputation for making some of Nashville’s best hot chicken.
Aqui was also one of the founders (with Prince’s and Bolton’s) of the Nashville Hot Chicken Festival. For this, she needed a food truck, so she bought a food truck. When she needed to move from her rented space on Peabody Street, she switched her operation entirely to her food truck.
These days, you can find the 400 Degrees food truck parked in front of a building Aqui and her husband purchased at 3704 Clarksville Highway in Nashville.
Since I was new to 400 Degrees, I asked Aqui for her recommendation. She suggested I get the three-piece tender meal, with two pieces of 100 degree chicken and one piece of 200 degree chicken. This was sound advice. I loved both, but I’m not sure I would want to eat two pieces of the 200 degree. For those of you who like it hot, and I mean hot, you can go for the 400 degree chicken. If you’re a complete pansy, you can have your chicken plain, which they call 0 degrees.
My chicken was served, as you would expect, on a piece of white bread. I must say, I’ve not had better Nashville Hot Chicken. I rank the chicken from 400 degrees right up there with the best I’ve had. Aqui’s chicken recipe results in a crust that is slightly crunchier than some others I’ve had, and I liked that. For my two sides, I got baked beans and potato salad. Both were excellent. The beans had a little kick to them, which I appreciated, and the potato salad was light on the mayonnaise, which is always a good thing.
If you don’t want tenders, she also offers breast quarters, leg quarters, and wings, as well as pork chops. You choose one or two sides – or none if you’re weird like that. Her sides are simple, but adequate. Besides the aforementioned baked beans and potato salad, she offers cole slaw and crinkle-cut fries. If you’re trying to eat healthy, you should probably go somewhere else. Seriously, she does have a chicken salad, but I cannot vouch for its impact to your waistline or cholesterol levels, as I’ve not tried it. To see the full menu, click here.
400 Degrees has been named one of Nashville best Hot Chicken restaurants, and they’ve been featured in local and national media. Click here to see them featured on The Travel Channel.
Aqui has plans to move her operation into the building she bought, and that should be happening soon. For now, though, you can still get her excellent Nashville Hot Chicken – five days a week – at her food truck parked out front. I would suggest you call ahead to avoid the wait. Aqui makes each order, well, to order. On most days, you’re looking at a 15-20 minute wait. But it’s worth it. Go see for yourself. And tell her John said hello.