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Prince's Hot Chicken Shack

123 Ewing Dr., Nashville, TN - (615) 226-9442
Posted By Michael Stern on April 8, 2012 9:54 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.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Fried Chicken

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Posted By Lew Barrett on September 27, 2014 10:23 AM
Our daughter moved to Nashville a few years ago, prompting a number of visits to Music City in recent years. We'd heard of Prince's but finally got around to visiting this fabled spot last night. Initial impressions were precisely as advertised. So much has been written about this place over the years that I'm going to skip over the chit chat and get down to business with one exception. If it's your first visit to Prince's, you need to know that it's important to step lively after walking in.

Any delays in placing your order at the window mean that the people coming in behind you will walk around you and get in line before you. There's nobody assigned to greet you or point you in the right direction. Taking the initiative is the key to getting your order placed, and you want to do that immediately as this place specializes in very slow fast food. The good news is that once you place your order, you can hover in the wings to snag one of the few tables available and you'll likely have ample time to get one, as fulfilling orders is routinely a half hour affair.

We ordered two breast orders, slaw, bean and fries but as they were out of slaw, we settled for the beans and fries. Although I like spicy food, I ordered mine mild. I think that's the way to go for most people unless one has something to prove or likes food really, really hot.

A small selection of soft drinks are available from a vending machine near the order window. After getting your drink, it's time to jockey for a table. We got one after standing around for fifteen minutes or so. After another twenty or twenty five minutes, our order came up.
So, it's not pretty and it's not fast, but how is the food?

Wait for it......wait for it.....Prince's disappoints. First the good. The chicken is tasty. Not unexpected in a place that specializes in fried chicken, but the crust is an interesting mix of crispy, tasty and chewy and the meat is moist and fully flavored. However, the sides have absolutely nothing to recommend them. The fries are frozen crinkle cuts, greasy and very poorly presented, swimming in grease (I'll bet the oil was too cold), limp and soggy and inedible. This from one who loves fries and will eat even mediocre potatoes to the last stick. The beans seemed as if they were poured from a can and doctored with unimaginable amounts of sugar. As they were out of cole slaw the night we visited (out of cole slaw?) I'm unable to comment on this key side, but the pickles too were unremarkable, crinkle cut commercially jarred affairs with no pretense of "special."

Highly overrated and remarkably dingy, Princes exists on an unearned reputation providing good fried chicken at fair (but not bargain) pricing and very little else to justify all the raves and fame. A restaurant with such a limited menu has a responsibility to make sure every item on offer is worthwhile. At this, Prince's fails to deliver. You can do better.
1 star rating
Overall Rating
HOT Fried Chicken

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Posted By Cindy Wine on March 13, 2013 12:45 PM
My fiance is Mexican and he got the hot chicken while I got the mild. I could handle it but it was hot for me. However, it's very addictive. He loved his but said he would go for the extra hot next time. He loves his food spicy. I am driving from Georgia to Indiana, where my fiance is right now, and the only thing he wants me to bring back for him is some of Prince's EXTRA HOT CHICKEN!

You must have this chicken if you are in the neighborhood. Well, OK, you will probably not be in the neighborhood but it is safe and well worth the drive and one hour wait. Enjoy and let us know what you thought!
4 star rating
Overall Rating
HOT Fried Chicken

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Posted By Jim Hainer on September 19, 2012 7:49 AM
I agree with everything Michael had to say. The highlight of our periodic 1,300 mile drives from Dallas to DC is our customary dinner at Prince's before spending the night a little East of town. This chicken is so "OMG good" it confounds me that they do not have more imitators around the country. If fact, if there is any "hot chicken" to be had in Dallas, please let me know!

I (as MetroplexJim) have posted this hilarious video starring the owner of Prince's elsewhere several times on Roadfood. If you haven't seen it before, treat yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72xXxV9qIPg
0 star rating
Overall Rating
Fried Chicken

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Posted By Ben Weiner on September 10, 2012 9:58 PM
I would not consider Prince's, although the chicken is delicious, to be in the upper echelon of fried chicken restaurants in this country. As advertised, Prince's chicken is spicy, and the flavor soaks entirely through the chicken and into the white bread sitting beneath the bird.

The restaurant also has the ambiance expected from a Roadfood landmark. Prince's is located in a strip mall outside of downtown Nashville. However, despite the aforementioned facts, I would not rank Prince's in the same class as Keaton's, Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, Chicken Mary's in Pittsburg, Kansas, or even Gus's in Memphis.
3 star rating
Overall Rating
Fried Chicken

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Posted By Michael Campbell on April 24, 2011 10:05 PM
Excellent chicken. Do not let the location or the look of the restaurant fool or discourage you. The price is right and the experience is unforgettable. I ate there two weeks ago for the first time. I went back again this weekend during my visit to see my new granddaughter. Now I have two reasons to visit Nashville.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Fried Chicken

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Posted By Joe Cox on July 18, 2009 10:44 PM
Prince's hot chicken is so good that it completely changed the way I thought about fried chicken. Essentially, BP (that's Before Prince's), I almost wouldn't buy it in a restaurant. I'd had my taste buds mangled by too much bad fast-food chicken, and I believed that good fried chicken was made at home. And it is, but not all of it.

Prince's isn't a shack, it's a small shop in a dilapidated strip mall in a seedy section of north Nashville. It's not for everybody. I've been approached by panhandlers and drug dealers during the daytime hours there. But oh, the chicken.

Start with the fact that, hot aside, this is really, really good pan-fried chicken. It's meaty and tasty and filling. Even if it was just Prince's Chicken Shack, I'd go there. But the hot. Wow. I don't know anything to compare it to. This isn't a Buffalo wings hot or a hot sauce hot. It's a peppers-from-hell hot. Apparently, it's a paste that is put on after the chicken fries. Not to fear -- it's so spicy and flavorful that it completely infiltrates every inch of chicken. Eating Prince's is a perfect mixture of dining pleasure and pain. Your mouth is on fire and you wonder how you can take another bite, but at the same time, you HAVE to have that next bite.

Buy a side item and work it in to cool things down. I like the fries personally, but I hear the beans are good too. Use the pickle slices to your advantage as well. Drink something non-carbonated liberally.

And save the bread for last. Prince's hot chicken, as mentioned before, comes on a bed of toast. While you're burning yourself out on the chicken, the toast sops up grease and sauce, and marinates into Fire Toast. It's the best and craziest part of the meal. It will always make me sweat and occasionally will bring a tear or three. And I eat the chicken mild.

Which is my last point. You can get the chicken plain, mild, medium, hot, or extra-hot. Stay away from the latter two unless you know what you're doing. Mild packs plenty of punch, and medium would be considered hot in any sane place in the world.

It's slow, the restaurant is tiny and dingy, and as I mentioned above, the atmosphere is rather seedy. But wow, is it worth it.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Fried Chicken

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