Lexington, KY – When a meal becomes an experience, it keeps you coming back for more. Now, I’m not simply speaking about atmosphere or service. Both of those were great, but it’s the food that I’m about to rave about.
Joella’s Hot Chicken in Lexington is a restaurant that takes a popular trend and simply masters it. The chain, which is based in Louisville, offers up several options for your dining experience.
We will start with the chicken itself. First and foremost, they use only Kentucky Proud pastured chicken. It’s brined for roughly 24 hours, breaded and then fried. There are several different levels of heat as well, which will serve anyone’s taste and heat levels.
Joella’s Spice Levels
Southern – No Heat
Spiked Honey – Sweet Mild (Served on the side)
Ella’s Fave – Burst of Flavor and Little Heat
Tweener – Medium Heat
Hot – Spicy Fire
Fire-In-Da-Hole – Inferno
On this trip, I personally chose the “Tweener” heat level and went with the three tender meal. I added garlic parmesan fries and a side of macaroni and cheese. I wasn’t to worried about my sides, as I truly wanted to focus on the chicken. That was a great decision, because the star of this show is definitely the chicken.
The “Tweener” level of heat, in my opinion, was a perfect combination of flavor and heat. The herbs and spices were truly mouth-watering and the heat was enough to cause a slght sweat, but no pain or indigestion. It wasn’t so hot that I needed to constantly sip a drink. It allowed me to fully savor every bite and will be my go-to option. The tenders themselves were incredibly juicy and fried to a perfect balance of crisp. Often times you may get a tender of that thickness that feels almost rubbery if it isn’t fried correctly. Joella’s is definitely not a spot that falls into that category. I added the Cheerwine BBQ sauce for dipping. It was a sweet and spicy sauce that completed my meal like a champ.
The fries were fried to a perfect crisp and were a great compliment to the chicken. The Mac was the only lackluster part of our entire experience. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it just wasn’t on the same level as everything else.
As for my partner in crime, Jeff Adams, his meal was another delightful, albeit much hotter experience. I often refer to Jeff as “Old Iron Sides”. His stomach can and has taken on levels of heat that would destroy most others, myself included. He went for the 1/4 chicken with the “Fire-In-Da-Hole” or “Inferno” level of heat. He complimented that with red potato salad and the sweet vinegar slaw.
He loved both sides, but as with myself, the star of the show was the chicken. Jeff went through several refills as the heat levels continued to rise. His quote will sum up his experience quite perfectly and succinctly, “It’s close to being the hottest chicken that I’ve ever eaten, while it may not claim that title, it does claim the best flavored and recommended hot chicken that I’ve ever eaten.”
The menu was rounded out by several sandwiches, salads and desserts. Including a fried chicken and pimento sandwich that is definetely at the top of the list for our next visit. We will also attempt to leave room to try the fried nutella nuggets, banana pudding or an ice cream float for dessert.
There were several hand crafted sodas at the fountain from Boylan Bottling. I sampled several and found that my own concoction truly hit the spot. I mixed 50/50 cream soda and creamy red birch beer. While Jeff zoned in exclusively on the black cherry soda. You won’t pick a bad one, I promise ya. They were all unique and fantastic.
Other drink options were fresh lemonade, sweet or unsweet tea and several craft beers on tap. Which included Country Boy’s Cougar Bait, West 6th Brewing’s Pale Ale, Kentucky Ale’s Bourbon Barrel Ale and Joella’s own Cock-A-Doodle brew.
The site at Cochran and Tates Creek Roads is not a huge location. In fact it took over from a legendary Lexington BBQ joint in Billy’s. Billy’s served Western Kentucky style BBQ to Lexington for 37 years. Many were sad to see Billy’s close, but it seems fate has replaced one iconic restaurant with another that is well on it’s way to providing many years of service to come.
Joella’s Hot Chicken is located at 101 Cochran Road Lexington, KY. You can also place phone orders for pickup at (859) 269-9593. Visit their site here for more information.