Lip-stinging cayenne permeates the golden crust of Nashville hot chicken, which traditionally comes delivered atop slices of white bread with tart butter pickles. In New York City, the definitive rendition is to be found at Peaches HotHouse, a Bedford-Stuyvesant restaurant that opened in 2008. "We've always been a hot chicken shack," says Craig Samuel, who owns the place with Ben Grossman, although he adds that in the beginning, the restaurant served new Southern experiments like pig's-head terrine and rabbit and dumplings. (He says to look for the latter to make its return.) Samuel and Grossman have fine-dining backgrounds, but this restaurant has always been casual and raucous, with locals popping in for a meal, a beer, or a cocktail named for a blues great. These days you can get shrimp and crisp grits — which caused an uproar when it was temporarily removed from the list — or meat loaf or even a burger, but you're really here for the chicken, which you should order “hot” if you want the most popular spice level, and “extra hot” if you're sure you can handle the heat. As Samuel says, "What can I say? The chicken is a beast!"
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