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Prince's Hot Chicken Shack

123 Ewing Dr., Nashville, TN - (615) 226-9442
Posted By Michael Stern on 4/8/2012 9:54:00 AM
I cannot absolutely say that Prince's Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville serves the best fried chicken on earth, given that this planet is also home to Keaton's, Stroud's, the Blue Willow Inn, Chicken on the Way, Brenda's Diner, and the Bon Ton Mini Mart; but if I did declare it #1, I would sleep well at night. It is spectacular.

First, a word of warning: It is not for all aficionados of fried chicken which, generally speaking, is a gentle-tempered dish. This bird is h-o-t. Of the four degrees of Scoville scale pain Prince's offers, even mild packs a punch; hot made my eyes water and lips tingle; frankly, I chickened out on trying extra-hot. Unlike typical hot wings, these quarters and halves are not bathed in sticky hot sauce; they are relatively dry and ferociously seasoned down to the bone; and their crust, which strips off in luxurious patches that are equal measures crunch and chew, is radiant with red-orange spice. It's salty but not throat-parching; and the miracle of it is that the flavor of plush chicken imbued with plenty of natural schmaltz (chicken fat) bursts right through the heat.

Meals come from the kitchen in brown paper bags and indoor seating can be scarce at mealtime. You will always wait for your food because there are no heat lamps here; every order is made as it is called back to the kitchen.

A few years back, when 55 of us from the Roadfood Nashville eating marathon tour arrived, I first thought we might have made a mistake to consider this little place a good choice for so many people. The staff seemed to be overwhelmed. It took over 30 minutes for those at the back of the line to get their chicken, and some got breast quarters when they wanted leg-thigh quarters. But really, such inconveniences are utterly trivial in the presence of fried chicken greatness.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Fried Chicken
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

A breast quarter photo shows just how important the blah bread below is. How else will you catch and gather all the succulent juices that the chicken sheds?
"A breast quarter photo shows just how important the blah bread below is. How else will you catch and gather all the succulent juices that the chicken sheds?"
Michael Stern





Leg Quarter, extra hot. This is fried chicken to dream about, and good reason to consider relocating to Nashville. (Bruce Bilmes photo)
"Leg Quarter, extra hot. This is fried chicken to dream about, and good reason to consider relocating to Nashville. (Bruce Bilmes photo)"
Michael Stern


Maximum umami: a piece of hot, fat, chewy, meltingly luscious skin stripped away from a Prince's breast.
"Maximum umami: a piece of hot, fat, chewy, meltingly luscious skin stripped away from a Prince's breast."
Michael Stern


The strip mall location does nothing to advertise what is one of America's great chicken eating experiences.
"The strip mall location does nothing to advertise what is one of America's great chicken eating experiences."
Michael Stern


Prince's menu in its entirety
"Prince's menu in its entirety"
Michael Stern


Prince's has no table service. Step up to the counter and place your order. Beverages are fetched from the Coke machine.
"Prince's has no table service. Step up to the counter and place your order. Beverages are fetched from the Coke machine."
Michael Stern


Irony in Prince's dining room: eating ferocious chicken from this benign tablecloth.
"Irony in Prince's dining room: eating ferocious chicken from this benign tablecloth."
Michael Stern


Contrary to what some may think, the white bread does have a purpose. After eating the chicken, try some of the bread and notice how the juices seep all the way through.
"Contrary to what some may think, the white bread does have a purpose. After eating the chicken, try some of the bread and notice how the juices seep all the way through."
Ben Weiner


A rare sight: Prince's without a crowd. I took this picture 30 seconds after the front door opened for lunch. By the time I left, there was no place left to sit.
"A rare sight: Prince's without a crowd. I took this picture 30 seconds after the front door opened for lunch. By the time I left, there was no place left to sit."
Michael Stern


Forget princehood. Here is the King of Chicken!
"Forget princehood. Here is the King of Chicken!"
Michael Stern



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Ben Weiner



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