Photography by Catherine Downes.

Eat This Now: Hot Chicken and Cheese from The Rustic

This heavenly gut-buster is only available during lunch.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to taste a handful of The Rustic’s new menu items before anybody else. While I didn’t exactly know what to expect, I hopped on the opportunity. After all, I like exclusives and trying new things as much as the next food writer.

I was presented with a procession of savory dishes: a Gulf shrimp cocktail with spicy chile de árbol, thick hunks of avocado, cucumber, jicama, jalapeño peppers, and fresh cilantro; a smoked brisket quesadilla with gooey cheese, pico de gallo, and a side of avocado salad; and a beer can game hen with jalapeño spoon bread, and chile-lime butter. Of all of the dishes that passed my lips (and I can earnestly say that I was satisfied with everything), the hot chicken and cheese sandwich still lingers on my mind — and my waistline.

Nashville-style spicy fried chicken, melted American cheese, and tangy dill pickles are sandwiched between two thick cuts of Texas toast that have been slathered in mayonnaise.

“We eliminated the grilled chicken sandwich from the menu,” explains Daniel Menchaca, The Rustic’s executive chef and culinary director of FreeRange Concepts. “It’s logical to have a chicken sandwich if you’re serving lunch. I love the popularity of hot fried chicken, and I wanted to create something craveable and diet-be-damned.”

The heavenly gut-buster is only available during lunch, which runs Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

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