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10 Fiery Places for Hot Chicken in Chicago

It’s getting hot in here

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Some like it hot. Really hot. Fried chicken is usually loaded with plenty of spices but the growing trend of hot chicken can be attributed to heat seekers who crave more. This Nashville specialty packs a punch, starting off as an addictive slow burn before unleashing a euphoric high.

Fortunately, Chicagoans don’t have to travel 470 miles south to get their fix anymore — some local restaurants are now lighting local mouths on fire with their own takes on the dish. There’s enough variety to satisfy spicy food lovers and novices alike so read on and get ready to sweat. Listed from north to south.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Pearl’s Southern Comfort

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Break the start-of-the-week monotony with Nashville hot chicken from Pearl’s. The weekly special, which is available on Mondays, keeps things simple: A piece of fried bird served as an open-faced sandwich with pickles on top. The mouth-numbing spice should be all the motivation that guests need to make it through a plodding workday.

Luella’s Southern Kitchen

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Start the weekend off on the right note with a Southern comfort kick to the taste buds. The restaurant serves Nashville hot chicken and waffles for brunch, countering the poultry’s burning intensity with sweetness from apple cider waffles and maple syrup. It’s the perfect balance for anyone hesitant to dive head first into the flames.

Luella’s Waffles and chicken
Luella's
Luella’s Southern Kitchen

The Roost Carolina Kitchen

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What started out as a food truck has turned into a full-scale operation with two brick-and-mortar locations. Owner Joe Scroggs got the business off the ground in 2012 and was among the first to introduce Nashville hot chicken to Chicagoans. The meat is seasoned with a variety of herbs while the skin is perfectly crisp and slathered in a fiery cayenne paste. Guests have to wait a bit to enjoy their food as it’s cooked-to-order, but the end result is the some of the finest hot chicken outside of Tennessee.

The Budlong

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Pitmaster Jared Leonard has been smoking meats at his barbecue eatery to much fanfare on the North Side for years. For his second project, he tackled another Southern favorite—fried chicken. Inspired by legendary places in Nashville such as Prince’s Hot Chicken and Hattie B’s, The Budlong has quickly expanded to three locations in less than a year. Diners who might be scared away by the heat should be happy to know the menu offers various levels of spice to accommodate all palates.

Parson's Chicken & Fish

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It’s only fitting that one of the hottest spots to hang out during summertime also serves blazing-hot chicken. Although the restaurant’s regular fried chicken already packs a spicy punch, the Nashville-style offering turns it up a notch by adding a garlic-cayenne-chipotle paste into the mix. Patrons can savor it on the patio and let the breeze of the wind and a Negroni slushy cool them off.

Lillie's Q

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The popular Wicker Park spot built its reputation on barbecue but chef Charlie McKenna’s fried chicken became such a crowd-pleasing hit that he opened a takeout window solely dedicated to it—LQ Chicken Shack. Passersby of the restaurant can take a brief pit stop outside and order some Nashville hot chicken, which is smoked at low temperatures before being fried. It can also be found on the brunch menu in the form of spicy-and-sweet chicken and waffles.

Pub Royale

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At first glance, an Anglo-Indian bar doesn’t seem like an obvious spot for hot chicken. Dig into the menu, though, and there it is right alongside the more traditional items. The meat is dipped in chili oil and peppered with Indian spices, yet the finished product is one that’s mild on heat, at least compared to its counterparts. It’s served with pickled limes and naan to soak up all of the spicy sauce.

Leghorn Chicken

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A sandwich isn’t the conventional way to enjoy hot chicken but Leghorn goes against the grain and delivers the real deal in between two buns. Guests can customize to their liking—choice of sustainably-sourced breast or thigh meat, butter bun or buttermilk biscuit, and one of the various house sauces. If the heat seems too daunting, rest easier knowing that some bread and blue cheese dressing can help temper the effects.

Bub City

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Come for the honky tonk, stay for the kickin’ chicken. Lettuce Entertain You’s popular country restaurant and bar isn’t just about smoked meats; chef Doug Psaltis offers up Nashville-style chicken in three varieties. The pieces are buttermilk-dipped with secret spices and available as tenders, fried chicken, or in a sandwich.

Bub City

East meets west at Restaurant Row’s new Chinese eatery and lounge. The classic dish of Chongqing chili chicken is reimagined as Southern-style, double-fried chicken injected with Sichuan peppercorns. It’s a familiar-yet-new approach yielding large, flavor-packed pieces that are seasoned with several spices and satisfyingly crunchy.

Pearl’s Southern Comfort

Break the start-of-the-week monotony with Nashville hot chicken from Pearl’s. The weekly special, which is available on Mondays, keeps things simple: A piece of fried bird served as an open-faced sandwich with pickles on top. The mouth-numbing spice should be all the motivation that guests need to make it through a plodding workday.

Luella’s Southern Kitchen

Luella’s Waffles and chicken
Luella's
Luella’s Southern Kitchen

Start the weekend off on the right note with a Southern comfort kick to the taste buds. The restaurant serves Nashville hot chicken and waffles for brunch, countering the poultry’s burning intensity with sweetness from apple cider waffles and maple syrup. It’s the perfect balance for anyone hesitant to dive head first into the flames.

Luella’s Waffles and chicken
Luella's
Luella’s Southern Kitchen

The Roost Carolina Kitchen

What started out as a food truck has turned into a full-scale operation with two brick-and-mortar locations. Owner Joe Scroggs got the business off the ground in 2012 and was among the first to introduce Nashville hot chicken to Chicagoans. The meat is seasoned with a variety of herbs while the skin is perfectly crisp and slathered in a fiery cayenne paste. Guests have to wait a bit to enjoy their food as it’s cooked-to-order, but the end result is the some of the finest hot chicken outside of Tennessee.

The Budlong

Pitmaster Jared Leonard has been smoking meats at his barbecue eatery to much fanfare on the North Side for years. For his second project, he tackled another Southern favorite—fried chicken. Inspired by legendary places in Nashville such as Prince’s Hot Chicken and Hattie B’s, The Budlong has quickly expanded to three locations in less than a year. Diners who might be scared away by the heat should be happy to know the menu offers various levels of spice to accommodate all palates.

Parson's Chicken & Fish

It’s only fitting that one of the hottest spots to hang out during summertime also serves blazing-hot chicken. Although the restaurant’s regular fried chicken already packs a spicy punch, the Nashville-style offering turns it up a notch by adding a garlic-cayenne-chipotle paste into the mix. Patrons can savor it on the patio and let the breeze of the wind and a Negroni slushy cool them off.

Lillie's Q

The popular Wicker Park spot built its reputation on barbecue but chef Charlie McKenna’s fried chicken became such a crowd-pleasing hit that he opened a takeout window solely dedicated to it—LQ Chicken Shack. Passersby of the restaurant can take a brief pit stop outside and order some Nashville hot chicken, which is smoked at low temperatures before being fried. It can also be found on the brunch menu in the form of spicy-and-sweet chicken and waffles.

Pub Royale

At first glance, an Anglo-Indian bar doesn’t seem like an obvious spot for hot chicken. Dig into the menu, though, and there it is right alongside the more traditional items. The meat is dipped in chili oil and peppered with Indian spices, yet the finished product is one that’s mild on heat, at least compared to its counterparts. It’s served with pickled limes and naan to soak up all of the spicy sauce.

Leghorn Chicken

A sandwich isn’t the conventional way to enjoy hot chicken but Leghorn goes against the grain and delivers the real deal in between two buns. Guests can customize to their liking—choice of sustainably-sourced breast or thigh meat, butter bun or buttermilk biscuit, and one of the various house sauces. If the heat seems too daunting, rest easier knowing that some bread and blue cheese dressing can help temper the effects.

Bub City

Bub City

Come for the honky tonk, stay for the kickin’ chicken. Lettuce Entertain You’s popular country restaurant and bar isn’t just about smoked meats; chef Doug Psaltis offers up Nashville-style chicken in three varieties. The pieces are buttermilk-dipped with secret spices and available as tenders, fried chicken, or in a sandwich.

Bub City

WonFun

East meets west at Restaurant Row’s new Chinese eatery and lounge. The classic dish of Chongqing chili chicken is reimagined as Southern-style, double-fried chicken injected with Sichuan peppercorns. It’s a familiar-yet-new approach yielding large, flavor-packed pieces that are seasoned with several spices and satisfyingly crunchy.

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