If you want to eat Nashville hot chicken at its best, 400 Degrees should be on the short list of essential destinations. The name refers to its hottest chicken, which is taken from the fry basket and painted with a dark pepper impasto. 200 degrees is brighter red, less hot, but still sinus-clearing – somewhere between Prince’s hot and medium.
Proprietor Aqui Simpson, who reminded me that regular customers call ahead so their chicken is ready when they arrive (hot chicken demands a 20 minute wait), said that she has a local police chief who comes in five times a week for 400 degree breasts and legs. “He came in the other day with a cut on his lip and ordered 200. But I was so used to giving him 400, that is what I did. He ate it, and he liked it, but I felt so sorry for his lip.”