Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
Mild Breast Quarter with Bread and Pickles
Medium Leg Quarter with Bread and Pickles
Again granted a two-hour lunch it was with good fortune that family had stuck close to downtown after breakfast, and driving Northwest from Music City Center it would not be long before the car was parked before Prince’s Hot Chicken, a restaurant revered by locals and tourists alike for serving some of the best fried bird and boldest spice profiles around.
Certainly with its “charms” as relates to location and décor, essentially tucked away in a strip-mall with a simple sign and painted glass that could use a fresh coat while the interior features a cash-only window plus a few tables and booths, it should come as no surprise that Prince’s is the sort of place prone to comments about questionable cleanliness, but with staff as friendly and attentive as the vast majority of Southern spots the room was actually quite tidy, just a little bit run-down.
Chuckling at the broken water fountain, something that almost seems intentional to push $1.50 bottles of water in a space known to offer blistering sauces ranging from mild to ‘xxxhot,’ it was after only a moment of indecision that an order was placed, and waiting mere moments before our ticket number as called a tray and two plates were soon in hand, a trio of desserts later purchased from an elderly African American woman who brings in her house baked goods every day just prior to noon.
Opting to take it easy on spices after the effects of Hot Chicken in Memphis it was with one plate of mild and another of medium that the meal began and first tasting the lightly spiced breast my initial reaction was one of wonder as to how they managed to make the batter so crisp while the flesh was so moist, the next bites of leg and thigh raising the bar even higher with just a light bit of burn tickling the back of the throat and base of the tongue.
Amused that my dining partners found even the mild to be a bit too heated for their tongues, and taking the opportunity to gladly finish off the wing as well as saucy bread beneath, it was onward to desserts that we moved and although roughly packed in plastic clamshells for easy portability the flavor of each selection more than made up for any lack of showmanship, the Hummingbird amongst the most pineapple-studded I’ve sampled to date beneath a lacquer of rich icing while the chess was pleasantly tangy and smooth, a best bite found from the buttery yellow caramel iteration with glistening tan frosting and plenty of sweetness to spare.