10655 Innovation Drive
Dayton OH 45342
websiteWhile it hearkens to the very favorite dish of the Music City, Nashville Hot (In Dayton, known as “Mike’s Nashville Hot” for the franchise owner) is actually founded in Cincinnati. The product of Tom+Chee’s David Krikorian and including former Bengals player Brad Cousino, this group is focused on taking hot chicken — a cuisine much beloved in Nashville but relatively unknown outside of that city — and popularizing it for a wider audience. Hot chicken is a sensitive thing for die-hards, but what the chain is offering is a great introduction to a dish many will not have tried before.
The whole experience is in the chicken. What to try:
- Hot chicken: Vitally important to understand is how hot this chicken gets on a five point scale. The lowest, “traditional” is basically just fried chicken. Each one adds a bit to that, until you get to “Southern Heat,” the second hottest. This one is comfortably warm, and I would say the average person would be fine with it. “Nashville Hot” is very different. It’s hot — very hot. Like the spiciest kind of wing sauce at any bar — with a warm and gradual heat that sticks around. Great!
- Wings: Three whole wings cooked how you like them. Pretty straightforward. If you want some of that heat on these things, you might want to consider getting something to neutralize the heat. It’s very concentrated in all those folds.
- Cornbread cakes: Smaller, cupcake-sized cornbread. They’re sweet, to warn you, and low on actual corn, but still pretty good.
- Sweet potato fries: While good, these are caked with brown sugar to add some charm. Not really that common a thing in Nashville but it does counterbalance the hot heat.
- Potato salad: Heavy with onions, a creamy sauce and potato chunks, this one is going to be pretty good if you like something creamy with the hot chicken.
This is going to be a pretty difficult place to grab something healthy. It’s a given with fried chicken of course, but the hot chicken here is so oily that there is usually bread served beneath it to soak up the grease. The chicken is also served with ranch to cool it down. Many of the sides are pretty sweet too. Southern cooking can have those kinds of things sometimes, but they’re not extremely common. That said, the chicken is a great representation, that wonderful, welcoming heat and the character it adds.
A wood-carved Nashville skyline hangs in one location. Others have guitars, photos and other welcoming things that give you a sense of the Music City culture. For all the hype Nashville sees these days, that its food enjoys a wider appreciation is good. It’s a welcome opportunity for the Midwest to try something new.
- There’s a big jump between the “Southern Heat” spice level and “Nashville Hot.” You have been warned!
- Salads are the only real choice if you’re looking for something on the healthy end.
- This food is messy and there’s really no way around that. Don’t wear white!