Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Nashville TN

We arrived in Nashville a little more than half an hour behind schedule. Then we pulled into Hattie B’s and realized we’d be even further behind. Sometimes, I think I prefer it when we just get there when we get there.

Hattie B’s, which opened in the summer of 2012, is located on 19th between Broadway and West End, just a short walk from the sadly missed original location of The Great Escape. Vandy and Belmont students pack this place, as do many of the twentysomethings in the area. Parking is at a premium, and the weekend lunch rush never slows down.

Back home, our daughter had watched a documentary about the chicken industry. It unsettled her, and she is declining to eat any chicken at this time. This came in useful as the toddler fell asleep as we got into Davidson County. The girlchild volunteered to stay in the car with him and read her novel while Marie and I got in line. It’s just as well; this place is so small and so busy that it was by some distance the least child-friendly restaurant we’ve visited in ages. Since the chicken is prepared to order, everything works out for guests willing to stand around and wait for a table to clear while they prep your food.

After we ordered, Marie walked next door to the original location of Gigi’s Cupcakes to take the girlchild a treat for being so helpful. We were able to get a seat within about fifteen minutes of placing our order. “I just missed Gigi,” Marie said when she returned, for she learned from the girl at the counter that the owner had just walked out the door with a large order for somebody while we were in line for chicken. Marie remains baffled why her very first visit to that store, back in 2008 or so, left her underwhelmed by the cupcakes, which she’s since found herself enjoying.

As for the food at Hattie B’s, it was very good, yet I was honestly disappointed by the spice level. I’m far, far from an expert in hot chicken, and perhaps I have elevated Nashville’s iconic Prince’s in my memory, but Prince’s “hot” was enough to make me give up shortly before I felt I should have finished my order. I hoped for a similar, gloriously painful experience, but the “hot” here felt barely spicy at all. I thought about being downright cheeky and titling this chapter “Hattie B’s Mildly Lukewarm Chicken.”

That’s not to say that the chicken was in any way bad; don’t get me wrong. I ordered a two-piece hot meal with three sides, and the chicken was very flavorful, juicy and cooked perfectly. It is good chicken; it just was not very hot chicken. Marie, not the world’s biggest fan of spicy food, just wanted to keep me company and share the sides, but she ended up eating a fair amount of the chicken, and Prince’s “medium” liked to have killed her a few years ago. Hattie B’s offers two hotter varieties: “damn hot” and “shut the cluck up.” If ever there is a next time at this restaurant, I would go with one of those.

The good chicken is matched by some completely terrific sides. Marie had most of the potato salad, which I typically don’t have on account of the calorie level, but we split the others. The pimento mac and cheese and the black-eyed pea salad were both simply wonderful.

The next time that we’ll be in Nashville, it will be for a wedding (You guys! Brooke is getting married! She bought her dress already and everything!), and perhaps not the best occasion to drive all around the city eating hot chicken and the Music City’s other, related, specialty, spicy fish, as is served at Bolton’s and at Hot Stuff. But perhaps the time after that, we can do a hot chicken odyssey or something and get a better “taste” of how many of these restaurants compare with each other. (Eat it, Tennessee, linked below, did just that and ranked Hattie B’s second in town, ahead of Prince’s. Hmmmm.)

Hattie B's Hot Chicken on Urbanspoon

Other blog posts about Hattie B’s:

Bella Vivere (Mar. 4 2013)
A Simple Home Cook (May 17 2013)
Eat it, Tennessee (July 1 2013)
The Reedy Review (Aug. 29 2013)
Ken’s Food Find (Dec. 5 2013)
Parenting While Intoxicated (Jan. 15 2014)


If you’re only reading these chapters, then you are missing part of the story! We have a fantastic Facebook page, where you can get additional information about our favorite places, including PR announcements, links when our friends-in-blogging visit them, and other follow-up news about the places we’ve been when we can find it. Give us a like, then hover over that LIKED button and check “Get Notifications” and please share and tell your friends to come see us!

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