Review: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken delivers a fiery kick to Atlanta

The Nashville import serves wildly spicy fried chicken on the cheap

Hattie B’s Hot ChickenEvery few weeks, we offer our “B Review”—a short take on restaurants that are casual and (typically) not too pricey.

As its name suggests, Hattie B’s Hot Chicken serves hot chicken, a style of bird born and perfected in Nashville (and, so far, unrivaled elsewhere) that’s coated in an earthy and fiery slick of spiced fryer oil after it’s been cooked to a golden crisp. Hattie B’s is Atlanta’s first Nashville hot chicken import, and it requires that you choose one of a half dozen heat levels: Southern (zero heat, for the spice intolerant), mild, medium, hot, damn hot, and the incendiary “Shut the Cluck Up.” That last one is as insane as the hour-long wait in line following Hattie B’s July opening on Moreland Avenue.

Father-son team Nick Bishop Sr. and Nick Bishop Jr. founded Hattie B’s in Nashville in 2012, capitalizing on the dish made famous in 1945 by Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack (it originally went by a different name). Hattie B’s now has locations in Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, and Las Vegas. The elder Bishop has an Atlanta connection; he lived here for a few years as a teenager, during which time his father was CEO of the Morrison’s Cafeteria chain. Senior also went on to work for Morrison’s. That experience, along with running Bishop’s Meat and Three in Franklin, Tennessee, helped prepare him to run the efficient and scalable Hattie B’s concept. The Atlanta outpost is housed just south of Little Five Points in a slick renovation of a 1950s-era Phillips 66 gas station.

Is the chicken as good as those lines out the door suggest? I’ve found the bone-in pieces lack flavor once you get past the crunchy crust, which will burn the lips (and, depending on your fortitude, the stomach) for hours. But interestingly, the hotter you go, the tastier, if more painful, it gets. The best option on the menu is the hot chicken sandwich, anchored by a fried breast you can get at any spice level (at least damn hot, come on) that’s topped with coleslaw, Nashville comeback sauce, and a kosher pickle, served on a fluffy bun. The meat in the sandwich was the most flavorful of the flesh I sampled. Pair it with a side of crinkle-cut fries (crunchy, salty, amazing) for an extra buffer between your stomach lining and the bird’s dangerous kick.

Rating
★ ★ ★ ★
(Very Good)

Vital stats
299 Moreland Avenue,
678-888-4884
hattieb.com

This article appears in our December 2018 issue.

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