The Scoop: Nashville hot chicken is a cayenne-spiced fried chicken served on white bread with pickles, and it’s a must-try for couples looking to spice up date nights in Tennessee. Party Fowl has perfected its recipe for Nashville hot chicken while also dreaming up alcohol-infused slushies to satisfy people with a sweet tooth. Party Fowl is a great spot for a casual date full of flavor. Not even a pandemic could keep people away. In fact, Party Fowl is preparing to open a fifth and sixth location in 2021.
Nashville is known for its lively music and food scene, and Nashville hot chicken is definitely a headliner in this cosmopolitan city. This classic crispy fried chicken gets an extra spicy kick from cayenne and hot sauce. And it isn’t Nashville hot chicken unless it’s served on plain white bread with a side of pickles.
The history of Nashville hot chicken dates back to the 1930s and starts with a scandalous tale of betrayal. According to a Delish article, “There was a Nashville local named Thornton Prince who was a known womanizer. His girlfriend, who had grown tired of his cheating ways, tried to poison him by adding a lethal amount of cayenne to his fried chicken. The plan backfired: Prince loved the chicken so much that he opened the first-ever hot chicken shack.”
The founding story of Party Fowl is much more benign. It started with two locals named Austin Smith and Nick Jacobson just wanting a fun place to grab some grub and drink with friends. In 2013, they opened the first location of Party Fowl in downtown Nashville. Party Fowl now has four locations and plans to open two more restaurants in 2021.
Party Fowl has won over customers by going all in on Nashville hot chicken. The kitchen is serious about spice, and its hottest meals are not for the faint of heart. The spiciest level on the menu simply says “Poultrygeist — You’ve Been Warned.”
Of course, a mild option called “Southern Fried — Easy as Pie” is also available for folks who don’t like a lot of heat.
One TripAdvisor reviewer declared Party Fowl to have the best Nashville hot chicken in town. “The food is amazing,” the reviewer said. “We were warned by the staff that [their] sauce is hot… and they were not kidding. The Nashville hot chicken packed a lot of heat but was fantastic. My wife had medium heat, and it was also great. We will come back.”
In addition to traditional Nashville hot chicken, the Party Fowl menu tempts daters with its hot chicken tenders, hot chicken po’ by, and hot chicken on mashed potatoes. The menu also has lacquered chicken drumsticks called lollipops because of their shape and succulent sweetness.
Famous Hot Chicken and a Cool Atmosphere
Owners Austin Smith and Nick Jacobson conceived of Party Fowl as a place that brought “the best of Nashville under one roof by combining great food, great drinks, and great music.”
COVID-19 presented an initial challenge to the Party Fowl crew, but not even a pandemic can ruin these good vibes. The restaurant staff has adapted to keep the party going as safely as possible.
“We have been going nonstop at Party Fowl,” Austin told us. “We have been complying with our county regulations while still working diligently to create a Party atmosphere at all of our locations and making sure that we apply this to our upcoming locations as well.”
You don’t have to be a hot Nashville chicken expert to appreciate the juiciness and flavor of the chicken served by Party Fowl. The party atmosphere is definitely part of the experience of dining at Party Fowl, and lots of folks become hooked after their first visit.
“I’m an absolute foreigner to the Nashville hot chicken wars,” one diner said. “Party Fowl was freakin’ good, parking was easy (find street parking!), and service was gnarly. Definitely a re-visit when we come back through Nashville!”
Party Fowl has a lot of delicious shareable plates available on its menu, so it’s perfect for couples going on a date. They can order fried cheese grit cakes with strawberry jalapeno jam as an appetizer. Or maybe they’d prefer to go a less spicy route and get bacon-fried potatoes or fried onion rings. Whatever option you choose, just be sure not to ignore the sauces because they bring a ton of flavor to the table.
Brunch-loving couples can head to Party Fowl on the weekend to get their fill. Party Fowl brunches are incredibly popular on the weekends, and couples are particularly fond of the reservation-only Brunch-for-Two option, which includes a 55oz Bloody Mary topped with two whole fried Cornish game hens, two scotch eggs, a whole avocado, and eight fried okra! The brunch menu items range from Hot Chicken Benedict to Chicken and Stuffed French Toast.
Making Memorable Boozy Slushies, Desserts, and Cocktails
Party Fowl’s extensive drinks selection can make it the perfect place for a fun date night. The boozy slushies are particularly popular among young folks with a sweet tooth.
The slushie options include the Bourbon Bushwacker, which is an adult chocolate milkshake with a splash of bourbon. Customers can also choose to add a floater of salted caramel whiskey, chocolate mint whiskey, banana liqueur, rumchata, or peanut butter whiskey.
If you’re looking for something more fruity than chocolatey, the Fromosa (a frozen mimosa with a variety of berry options) or the Cherry Limeade (made with lime vodka and grenadine) will satisfy you.
The restaurant’s craft cocktails have a lot of fun and unique flavors to try. The founders for Nashville Ice Lab have perfected the mixology menu from the Slaughterhouse Bourbon infused with sea salt vanilla honey syrup, to three varieties of Moscow Mules. The bar doesn’t make an old-fashioned — they make a new-fashioned, which is their twist on the classic cocktail.
Diners can add a float of mango, prickly pear, raspberry, strawberry, or peach to any house margarita. And they can also skip the cocktails and order one of 20 local brews on tap. Or go straight to dessert.
Dessert offerings include a homemade banana pudding topped with sea salt caramel and whipped cream, served in a waffle cone bowl, as well as a beignet topped with bourbon glaze and powdered sugar.
“The Bourbon Beignets … give the person who came up with this combo a beer,” said one satisfied diner. “It was something I would come back for. I was impressed by this place. Deserves the respect given.”
Party Fowl: A New Location Will Keep the Good Times Going
Nearly 100 years after its first plating, Nashville hot chicken is still killer — but not in a literal sense. This is the signature dish that has made Party Fowl a go-to spot for date nights and celebrations. Even during the pandemic, this Nashville landmark has seen support from the community and expanded its business.
The fifth Party Fowl location is coming to the Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga in April 2021. The eatery’s sixth location will open over the summer in the Nashville International Airport.
“We have been so fortunate to have such loyal customers and regulars, and every day we are more thankful for each person who comes in to dine with us, even if just for a beer,” said Austin. “We are looking forward to expanding the Nashville hot chicken experience outside of Nashville while maintaining our integrity.”
Austin said he anticipates seeing a lot of travelers partaking in hot chicken on the fly and spreading the word about this trendy dish. As social distancing measures relax, Party Fowl has returned to its partying ways, including hosting events, live music performances, trivia nights, and happy hours. These events provide a sense of normalcy in an unusual time.
“We want Party Fowl to be a safe, friendly environment where anyone can walk through our doors and feel like our family,” said Austin.