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The Nashville Hot chicken sandwich pairs a spicy chicken breast with cole slaw. Photo by Shilo Urban

Rule the Roost Nashville Hot Chicken 6635 Westworth Blvd, Ste 101, FW. 817-349-0325. 11am-9pm daily. All major credit cards accepted.

Blistering Nashville fried chicken is hot in more ways than one, with spicy chicken joints popping their heads up around North Texas like roosters ready for a cockfight. Gus’s, The Cookshack, Helen’s Hot Chicken, and 24 Hot Chicken & Waffle Bar have all recently entered the suddenly competitive scene. As with many cult-favorite foods, Nashville chicken’s rise to fame started with a happy accident — and a story of revenge served hot.

Before the spicy chicken craze swept across the globe to the tables of Korean hipsters, Australian athletes, and the British royal family, it was eaten for generations in Nashville’s African-American communities. The credit for today’s iteration of the fiery treat can be claimed by Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, a Nashville cafe opened in 1945 by fried fowl super-fan James Prince. 

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Prince also had a thing for the ladies, and, for some reason, his girlfriend wasn’t too keen on that. After the player dragged himself home especially late from a night on the town, she cooked a payback breakfast and loaded his fried chicken with the hottest pepper she could find. Prince absolutely loved it, so much in fact that he created his own recipe and opened the restaurant that would become legendary. 

Rule the Roost brings Nashville’s scorching tradition to Westworth Village from Tennessee via San Jose. First opened in a mall food court, the original location has since closed and the owners (who are from Tennessee) have started fresh with a stand-alone fast-food eatery in Fort Worth. They sling six different fried and grilled chicken sandwiches, along with chicken tenders in four heat levels: no heat, Nashville Hot, extra hot, and extreme heat.

A respectable number of diners came and went during a recent weeknight dinner, which was all the more impressive considering that a thunderstorm was flexing hardcore with quarter-size hail pinging the windows. My guest and I skipped the outdoor seating. Rustic-cool, minimalist decor keeps the focus squarely on the hand-breaded chicken, which arrived in moments thanks to fast, friendly service.

On our visit, Rule the Roost excelled at its signature dish. The Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich paired a spicy, juicy chicken breast with flame-dousing coleslaw. The fried chicken’s thin crust snuck in the smoky heat for a gullet-warming afterburn. Upgraded pickles and peppery Rule the Roost sauce added bite. The Cheesy Chick sandwich swapped the coleslaw for a queso sauce while the Simply Country sandwich took things down a notch with plain breading. 

The sandwiches are served on roll-style buns, all fresh and pillow-soft, but the chicken itself seemed inconsistent, varying in quality between the dishes. Some tasted tender and just right, and some were a bit chewy and overcooked. We also couldn’t tell the difference between heat levels two and three. 

Listed as a side dish on the menu, the fully loaded waffle fries could definitely be a meal on their own — a delicious, decadent meal. Bacon crumbles, queso, and diced fried chicken hold down a raft of the fries, all topped with a sprinkling of Nashville Hot seasoning. 

Other sides swung and missed, with lackluster performances by the mac ’n’ cheese, biscuits, and mashed potatoes with sausage gravy. Besides the zingy, housemade Rule the Roost sauce, the chicken dips were served with plain-old Ken’s and Sweet Baby Ray’s dressings. My Cobb salad had been assembled the previous day, but all the lettuce and goodies still tasted fresh –– not bad at all for a fast-food restaurant.

Our funnel fries dessert arrived hot and disappeared quickly. Dosed with a copious amount of cinnamon-sugar, they were the lovechild of churros and the Texas State Fair — and so much easier to eat than a pull-apart funnel cake. The sweet batons begged for a dipping sauce, so I dragged them through the icing on top of the restaurant’s apple turnover. Lactose-free milkshakes are a thoughtful touch for the dairy-averse. Flavors like cookies and cream, orange dream, and root beer are sold as “All the fun without the run.” It’s not often that you see a restaurant menu that refers to diarrhea.

Fans of Cane’s, Chick-fil-A, and Popeyes will find something to love at Rule the Roost, which also offers drive-through service and a military discount. While some elements need a little work, overall it’s a solid step up from other fast-food chicken.

Rule the Roost

Nashville Hot chicken sandwich $6.59

Simply Country chicken sandwich $4.99

Fully loaded fries $6.79

3-piece tenders $4.29

Cobb salad $7.99

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