The Hot Chicken Wars are only just heating up in Cleveland

Is Nashville Hot Chicken becoming the “it” food of 2022? Here’s the top locations in town to get this spicy delight.

CLEVELAND, Ohio (CLE WEEKEND) - Did everyone just discover the recipe for Nashville Hot Chicken? All over Cleveland, new locations offering up the spicy fried poultry are popping up, all claiming to have the “ultimate” take on the dish.

To the uninitiated, Nashville Hot Chicken isn’t just pouring Frank’s hot sauce over a deep-fried chicken breast. The batter itself is made with a heavily-spiced paste before being doused in hot pepper oils. The mouth-burner effect is tamed (slightly) by classic accompaniment of pickles and white bread.

But who is offering the best version of Hell’s drumsticks? You’ll just need to try them for yourself. Here’s a rundown of some of the top stops in town to grab a basket (or two) of the food craze that’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

We are not responsible for any burned tastebuds.

Dave’s Hot Chicken - 15012 Detroit Ave, Lakewood -

The “new kid in town”, Dave’s opens Jan. 14. This franchise was started by chef Dave Kopushyan, who was trained by world-famous chef Tomas Keller. With roots in California, this chicken is sold as tenders, which can also be ordered as sliders (with or without melted cheese). There are seven heat choices for your chicken, from “No Spice” (come on, why are you even here?) to “Reaper.” Sides include fries, mac and cheese, and kale slaw. Fresh-made milkshakes are also available in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Dave’s Hot Chicken Website

Hot Chicken Takeover - 17830 Royalton Rd., Strongsville / Crocker Park 242 Main St., Westlake -

With two locations in Cleveland, and four in Columbus, Hot Chicken Takeover is a steadily-growing local favorite. With a emphasis on fair hiring, they focus on barrier-free employment in the staff, and chicken on the table. All chicken is farm-raised organic, and available in pieces, boneless, or as a whole chicken. There are four heat levels, from “cold” to “Holy.” They also offer gluten-free boneless, and plant-based meatless “nuggets” with vegan ranch. All orders come with bread, pickles, ranch and sweet tea. Sides are mac and cheese, slaw or baked beans. You can also cap off your meal with a banana pudding (available in gluten-free), or deep-fried waffle pieces. Hot Chicken Takeover website

ParkView Nite Club - 1261 W 58th St., Cleveland -

A Cleveland institution that’s been serving food and drink since 1934, ParkView Nite Club saw hot chicken appear on the menu a few years back, and it looks here to stay. In lunch or dinner portion size, it’s served with creamy slaw and white bread. You can also grab your spicy bird on a Kaiser bun with sweet cider cabbage and pickle. ParkView Nite Club website

PJ’s Hot Chicken -

Sold through Old Carolina Barbecue Company 21613 Center Ridge Rd., Rocky River -

With a cayenne-infused oil, PJ’s Hot Chicken offers full pieces, tenders and sandwich-style. It offers four heat levels from “No Spice” to “Hot” and serve all meals with pickles and your choice of dipping sauces. Sides are fries, slaw or mac and cheese. PJ’s Hot Chicken website

Soho Chicken + Whiskey - 1889 W. 25th St., Cleveland -

It’s Southern style cooking with a NYC sensibility at Soho Chicken + Whiskey. Along with their fried green tomatoes and luxury deviled eggs, you can order up a Nashville chicken sandwich on an egg bun with spicy schmaltz, pimento cheese, coleslaw, grilled pickles and a okra remoulade. It might not be traditional, but it’s good. Served with fries. There’s a tofu option available as well! Soho Chicken + Whiskey website

Zachariah Durr

Zachariah Durr

Video Producer for CLE Weekend since 2018. LIKES: Savory snacks, line drawings, Russian animation. DISLIKES: Wet chips, clickbait, polo shirts where the logo is most of the shirt. Has lived in Texas, Florida, New York and Ohio. Not in that order.