Pepperfire makes what might be the most beautiful hot chicken in the city: cinnabar-red, glistening moist and oozing juice at the slightest poke. While I’ve never done a side-by-side comparison of all the great hot chickens in Nashville, there is no doubt in my mind that this is in competition for the #1 spot. It is a brilliant balance of heat, salt, fat, and meat. Like Prince’s, it has a way of nearly killing taste buds but at the same time tripping the switch that will cause intense craving for a lifetime.
In addition to the traditional breast quarters and leg quarters bedded on white bread with pickle chips, you can buy whole or half hot chickens as well as jumbo hot wings and boneless tenders – all available in degrees of heat from Mild to XX Hot. (Word to the wise if you are in a hurry: order tenders, which take less time to cook than traditional chicken parts.) If you are allergic to chicken, the menu offers a sandwich made with Pepper Jack cheese. The sandwich is fried, then sopped with hot oil. It is available also as a Tender Royale, topped with hot chicken tenders. Side dishes are inconsequential, except as palate-salve: crinkle-cut fries, potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, green beans.