Nashville Hot Chicken Reviews: Nectar: Urban Cantina

Stoney Keeley weighs in on the Nashville hot chicken tacos from Nectar: Urban Cantina.

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I live east of town in Mount Juliet, and I’ve reached the ripe old age of 34 which means a dwindling drive to fool with downtown Nashville…like…at all. I’d much rather avoid the traffic, have a nice dinner on my side of town, and get home in time to watch a good movie and soak my feet in a tub of hot water. For my money, there is absolutely no better spot to get the trendy vibe of downtown without all the puke smell of Broadway than Nectar: Urban Cantina in Donelson. I think I’ve been going there once a week since they opened. It’s at a point where I’m considering buying a Nectar t-shirt, if that tells you anything. What Jared Plushnick is for Husk, I vow to be for Nectar.

So, full disclosure – it’s absolutely my favorite spot right now. I’m biased, sure. They’re probably tired of me tagging them in posts from the SoBros account on Instagram every weekend, but I can’t help myself. I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it. I’ll sing it from the mountaintops. I’ve even done a review on this site, and this place remains one of our highest graded spots to this day.

Between the backyard, the margaritas, and the menu, there’s plenty to love about Nectar. But, what I feel is often overlooked is just how dope that ‘specials’ menu is (#NeverForget the bangers n’ mash burrito for St. Patrick’s Day). It really keeps me coming back, just because you never know what kind of creation you’re going to see on that chalkboard when you walk in (another shoutout to the smoked ribeye taco from last Fall, too). Last week, their Nashville hot chicken tacos were on special, so I figured I’d add to our catalog of Nectar content by throwing ’em in with the Nashville hot chicken rankings as well.

In my experience (and please, if you work at Nectar or would otherwise be able to confirm this, let me know), they trot out the Nashville hot chicken tacos as apart of their ‘specials’ menu once or twice a year. So, don’t read this review and head on down to Nectar expecting to get a big plate of Nashville hot chicken. That’s not how this works. I just wanted to highlight this establishment’s ‘specials’ menu, and really…..just share photos of these badass tacos. For more on Nectar: Urban Cantina, check out their website here.

Pics

Ratings

Flavor: 5/10 – Really solid, on-the-nose “Nashville hot” flavor in this taco. There’s nothing about it that particularly stands out as far as uniqueness goes. But, it’s not a swing and a miss either. It is right down the middle, on the button “Nashville hot” flavor.

Texture: 6.6/0 – Man, this taco is like a symphony. Soft tortilla, hot crispy chicken, the crunch of the slaw, the pickle. It’s something that Nectar does really well – pairing different textures in the same taco. The Nashville hot chicken taco is no different. This hot chicken was fresh out of the….whatever they’re cooking this hot chicken in…too. Above average texture, for sure.

*Oil disclosure* – I don’t mind making a mess of myself. But, fair warning to those of you who might care about this, these tacos were dripping with oil. Usually, you get the Texas toast in a hot chicken dish that sops up all that grease. But, that’s a tall order for these tortillas, folks. If you’re like me and don’t give a shit if you have chicken grease all over your hands, then bone ape tit all the way. But, if you’re not, and you’re worried about making a mess…just keep this part in mind.

Heat: 8.1/10 – The heat on this one was its best attribute if you ask me. It was hot enough to give me that weird adrenaline kick that comes with eating hot chicken….almost like I’m experiencing ASMR or something. But, it wasn’t so blazingly hot that I wasn’t able to enjoy the flavor of it. I didn’t need a nap after eating it, and I didn’t feel like there was a hamster set on fire in my stomach either. Absolutely nailed the heat….I dare say better than some of our hot chicken mainstays in town.

Fixins: 06.3/10 – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Slaw and pickles – that’s about all I need on this dish, and they do it well. The slaw cools this dish down a bit and balances out the heat. The pickles give it the perfect tang, and the tortilla just (literally) holds the whole thing together. It’s like the perfect plate in taco form.

Overall: 6.5/10 – A commendable effort from Nectar. This is probably one of my favorite Nashville hot chicken dishes in the area that isn’t just straight up hot chicken. The folks in Nectar’s kitchen are among the most creative in the area, but with this one, they just threw the fastball and kept it simple.

CURRENT NASHVILLE HOT CHICKEN POWER RANKINGS

  1. Hurt’s Hot Chicken (8.53/10)
  2. Red’s 615 Kitchen (7.23/10)
  3. Scoreboard (6.62/10)
  4. Riverfront Tavern (6.25/10)
  5. Helen’s Hot Chicken (5.75/10)

Important qualifier: I’ve literally only reviewed 10 places around town. Don’t @ me with the “where’s Hattie B’s? Where’s Bolton’s? Where’s Prince’s?” I KNOW – we’re working on getting out to the heavyweights in the Nashville hot chicken scene this year. This portfolio has to start somewhere, and right now, it’s starting east of town because that’s the easiest for me to get to. *shrugs*

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley

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