Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hattie B’s

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Hattie B’s
112 19th Avenue S.

Hot chicken has become the Nashville signature dish. The hot chicken options in town grow with the opening of Hattie B’s. The location couldn’t be better- Midtown, just off Division and across the street from Broadway Brewhouse. They’ve been packing folks in ever since they opened in the fall. The popularity says something about the demand for hot chicken in the neighborhood.

The popular warm weather location (and even on colder days) is the spacious covered deck. It gets a bit cramped inside, especially when the line starts to run out the door. Still, there’s something about the line and the bustle that seems to be part of the hot chicken tradition. Heat is of course the real hot chicken tradition and that has already proven to be a source of controversy among the hot chicken addicts out there. It seems to me that there was some adjustment of heat levels in the early weeks of the restaurant. They offer a spice level of no heat, mild, hot and damn hot. It seems that the hot is a little less spicy than the Prince’s medium. I would say damn hot would be a good place to start if you enjoy hot food. Folks in search of scorching heat will probably have to go elsewhere. Normally we don’t like to compare restaurants in a review, but with hot chicken everything comes back to Prince’s, the Nashville hot chicken original. Hattie B’s seems to have a similar cooking and saucing process. This isn’t buffalo style. The breasts are dark red, juicy and tender. The heat and spice has good flavor. It doesn’t have the depth or complexity of spice as Prince’s, or some other places in town, but it’s still a good hot chicken. The large white plate is a huge serving of chicken, too much for even this hungry diner. The small plate is plenty. Expect a wait, especially if they are busy. 15-20 minutes seems like child’s play, though, when compared to Prince’s waiting times.

Hattie B’s will probably stand out in the hot chicken scene as much for the sides as for the chicken. Red skinned potato salad has a great tangy flavor and big chunks of potato. Pimento mac and cheese is a welcome twist and served sticky and cheesy. Sweet and spicy baked beans are studded with bacon. The black eyed pea salad has vinegar bite, smoothed out with olive oil. Finish up with traditional banana pudding with vanilla wafers. It’s another big serving, so you probably want to share.

They only serve chicken as the main course at Hattie B’s. That does come in wings and tenders for a few more choices. They have hot platters for large groups and have a decent selection of beer to wash it down. I paid $15 on one visit and $10 on another.

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