Eliot Vanotteren

Dining Dispatch

More Nashville Hot Chicken Is Headed for Dallas

On the heels of Chirps Chicken Shack and Lucky's Hot Chicken, Palmer's Hot Chicken will bring the fiery food to Dallas later this summer.

It appears we have a verified Nashville hot chicken trend on our spice-covered hands. In May, Chirps Chicken Shack opened in the former LG Taps space on Greenville Avenue. Meanwhile in Old East Dallas, Lucky’s Hot Chicken is setting its sights on an August arrival, reports the Dallas Morning News. The latest to announce its stake in Dallas’ growing Nashville hot chicken offerings is Palmer’s Hot Chicken, which is set for a late summer opening in Lakewood.

Palmer Fortune is the literal name behind the forthcoming restaurant that he operates with business partner Mills Garwood. Fortune was born in Dallas, with much of his familial roots in Texas, but decamped to Tennessee for decades. That’s where his adoration for hot chicken started.

Last May, Fortune, who says he’s “not into signs and all that,” had dreamt about bussing tables in Dallas. Not wasting much time parsing the meaning, a month later he flew here to scope out the dining scene and see whether he could expand his restaurant reach—like an extension of Garwood and Fortune’s restaurants, Porch and Palmer’s Village Cafe in St. Simon Island, Georgia. With some nudging from his wife, he returned to his birthplace to open Palmer’s Hot Chicken in Hillside Village Shopping Center. “This is my way of coming back home,” he says. 

As for the chicken itself, Fortune does say that they’ll pay homage to Thorton Prince, whose Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville entered this singularly spicy dish into our culinary lexicon in the early twentieth century. We can’t talk about Nashville hot chicken without mentioning the Prince legacy (this New Yorker story featuring Prince’s great-niece André Prince Jeffries who helms the family business is a must-read). We can’t ignore that these three Nashville hot chicken-focused restaurants are among many that have appeared all over the U.S. after the success and respect chartered by this Black-owned chicken shack.

Palmer’s recipe adheres to the Nashville hot chicken archetype: skin must “have a certain type of bark, it’s not soggy or sloppy, it’s not wet…” Fortune says when you eat enough hot chicken you can reverse engineer and “kind of figure out what to do.”

Palmer’s hot chicken will come in four different spice levels: naked, novice (mild), Nashville (hot), and “napalm,” which Fortune says will “make your forehead sweat. It’s not a mild hot, it’s hot. It’s almost a gimmick.” (But I can’t help but feel shocked at the casual use of the word “napalm” to describe spiciness when it was used in firebombs for wars in the not-too-distant past.)

Beyond chicken, though, expect wraps, salad, fried shrimp and catfish, and staples from Garwood and Fortune’s restaurants like pimento cheese grits and slow-cooked collard greens.

As a recovering alcohol and drug addict, Fortune says they “hire a lot of recovered employees,” and will do so here, too.

Opening amid a pandemic makes you evaluate everything differently. Here, the restaurant buildout meant recessing the front to make way for a 1,400-square-foot patio with garage doors for air flow. Palmer’s Hot Chicken will be fast-casual in style, which means little contact and no table service. Fortune says even with Georgia restaurants allowed to open at 50 percent capacity, his restaurants’ dining rooms remain closed. He’s taking things cautiously as he opens here in Dallas, hopefully at the end of this summer.

Side note: Another new—but not Nashville hot—chicken spot has appeared on the Dallas dining scene: Soul 2 Soul Southern Kitchen, on Wheatland Road near Duncanville. While the fried chicken isn’t bursting with fiery spice, everything that owners Derick and Latasha Williams serve bursts with soul. The Mississippi couple moved to Dallas with family recipes in tow, from slow-cooked oxtails to cornmeal-crusted fried catfish.

Palmer’s Hot Chicken, Lakewood, Hillside Village Shopping Center, target opening late summer 2020.

Lucky’s Hot Chicken, Old East Dallas, Gaston Ave, target opening August 2020.

Chirps Chicken Shack, Lower Greenville, open now.

Soul 2 Soul Southern Kitchen, edge of Duncanville, below South Oak Cliff, open now.

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