Dining

The 7 Best Spots for Nashville Hot Chicken Outside of Tennessee

Feel the burn, from California to NYC
The Best Hot Chicken Outside of Nashville
Photo: Courtesy of Hot Chicken Takeover

It's safe to say that America's obsession with Nashville hot chicken, with its lingering fiery bite, crispy shell and endlessly tender meat, stretches far beyond the Music City limits. And while we all know about famed spots like Prince's and Hattie B's, which put Nashvegas's favorite scorcher on the map, there's actually quality hot bird to be found all over the country. But where to look?

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From beloved Brooklyn kitchens to West Coast 'gram magnets, these are the absolute best spots for Nashville hot chicken outside of Tennessee.

Peaches HotHouse

Brooklyn, NY
A growing soul food empire with a following that extends far beyond its beloved Brooklyn digs, Peaches HotHouse has been perfecting its version of the Southern classic since 2010, way before most milk-fed Yanks had ever heard of such a thing. Each order includes a few pieces of bone-in chicken, battered, fried, spiced to Hot or Extra Hot (Nashville Style) specifications, and served with one side (the crispy red and white slaw is not to be missed). It won't give away the recipe, of course, but let's just say it involves ghost peppers, the mother of all fiery beasts. "Hot Chicken is not for the faint of heart," Peaches proclaims. "But it sure is delicious." Amen to that.

 

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The Fremont Diner

Sonoma, CA
This retro-cool roadside diner has long been wine country's most Instagrammable stop off, and its crunchy, juicy Nashville-style chicken is never in need of a filter. Tables full of hungry guests fill the flawlessly designed restaurant and picnic table-strewn patio, hunched over plates of addictive spicy fried chicken, served straight up with white bread and collards, in a sandwich stuffed with coleslaw and pickles, or piled high atop a fluffy Belgian waffle and drenched in syrup for the salty-sweet brunch of champions. Even better? The Fremont also offers a nice selection of delicious local craft beer to help you cool your jets, California-style.

The Budlong Hot Chicken

Chicago, IL
With three locations strewn about Chicago, the Budlong boasts one of the most extensive hot chicken menus on this list, including half and quarter chickens of both the dark and light varieties, a hearty sandwich and even a tender-topped salad. No matter how you slice it, each option comes tailored to the customer's palate, from naked (for shame) to the flaming Xtra Hot. If you like it spicy, we recommend grabbing a piping-hot Budlong Biscuit, made with soft winter wheat and slow-churned European butter, to south your burning post-lunch tongue.

Rapscallion

Dallas, TX
Dallas's culinary scene is blowing up, and so is Rapscallion, with its bright, airy dining room, sizable craft beer and cocktail lineup, and innovative take on Southern staples. Whole or half birds come off the bistro's seasoned rotisserie, brined in tea, fried to a beautiful crisp and doused in a rich Sichuan mala sauce instead of the traditional pepper dusting. Unconventional as it may be, the dish's surging popularity indicates that Rapscallion's signature approach is working out just fine.

 

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Bud & Marilyn's

Philadelphia, PA
At this Washington Square West mainstay, Nashville hot chicken is done a little differently, but just as deliciously. For lunch and dinner, the pub transforms the spicy icon into Nashville Hot Buns, a duo of fried chicken tossed in homemade hot sauce; topped with pickles, ranch dressing and a tangy pickle brine slaw; and loaded into a warm, split-top bun. It's akin to a lobster roll, except way more satisfying (and without the hefty price tag). And on the weekends, the hot chicken biscuit sandwich—peppery fried chicken with all the fixins swaddled in a hot buttermilk biscuit—is a bruncher's hangover-fueled dream.

 

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Richard's' Southern Fried

Atlanta, GA
This ATL counter service joint has one of the most customizable hot chicken lineups in the country. Diners start off by choosing their main meat from a menu of white or dark bone-in chicken, meaty wings, potato wedges loaded with hot chicken and smothered nachos-style in cheese sauce, or a cold chicken-topped Cobb salad, then go through a maze of options including heat level (classic, hot or the dangerous Richards' Hot) before moving on to sides (the black-eyed pea salad is a must) and finishing with a round of soft drinks. There's also a pimento cheese- and pickle-laden sandwich that will have even the staunchest carnivore drooling. Y'all better go hungry.

Howlin' Ray's

Los Angeles, CA
Howlin' Ray's Johnny Zone first discovered hot chicken while working under chef Sean Brock at Nashville's celebrated Husk and immediately fell in love—so much so that upon his return to his native L.A., he teamed up with his wife to bring authentic Tennessee palate scorchers to the area. The modest Chinatown-area shop has developed quite a cult following since then, delighting heat seekers with its potent bone-in fried chicken, boneless tenders, wings, sandwiches and uber-popular weekend-only hot chicken and waffles, each available on a scale from Country (no heat) to Howlin! ("10++"). And while poultry pilgrims routinely spend hours upon hours in line just to get their hands on a few prized morsels, something tells us this is one bird worth the wait.

 

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