During February, Scott Joseph's Orlando Restaurant Guide is featuring restaurants that are Black-owned or that have Black chefs in observance of Black History Month.
Chicken Fire is really misnamed – the Fire ought to have top billing.
Chicken Fire is a restaurant singularly focused on serving Nashville hot chicken, a version of fried chicken that is marinated, breaded, deep fried and then coated in a paste fashioned out of molten lava. And it is wonderfully delicious.
Kwame Boakye began offering his heavenly bit of hell to Central Floridians from a mobile food van. Then, in December, he opened in a storefront location near the corner of Colonial Drive and Bumby Avenue. Such was the popularity of Boakye’s product that the weekend the new restaurant opened the kitchen went through one thousand pounds of chicken.
(It’s also so popular that it has no website and no published phone number. But more on the ordering process in a moment.)
The menu is simple, with only two “box” options (three if you count the child’s box, and if you’re serving your kid the hot stuff you really should talk to someone about parenting).
The Hot Box is the original Nashville style, with two very large portions of chicken served on top of slices of white bread, which is basically just there to absorb whatever drips down.
The Slider Box is also a misnomer in that instead of small, bite-sized sliders it contains two full-sized sandwiches.
The bigger choice comes in selecting your level of heat. You can have soulful, which is seasoned but without the cayenne; meak (sic), with “a squeak of heat”; mild, by which they mean hot; medium, by which they mean really hot; and hot, by which they mean “straight fire. Not kidding. EXTREMELY HOT. The menu board also warns customers to choose carefully because “there are no take-backs.”
To put the heat in context, the young man who took my order described the medium level as “Thai hot.” That made me smile because there was a time that the only way you could convince a Central Florida Thai restaurant that you wanted your red curry really hot was to use the code Thai hot. Chicken Fire’s hottest spice level, the young man explained, was exponentially spicier.
I ordered the Hot Box with the hottest option and the Slider Box with one each of mild and medium. Why bother with anything milder? If you don’t want want the spice you might as well go to the chicken sandwich chain across the street in Colonial Plaza.
Though I would wager that the quality of the [product is much better at Chicken Fire. And that’s the real take-away from this takeaway: The food is not just spicy for spicy’s sake, it’s of high quality and as well executed as it is well seasoned.
Both sandwiches were delicious, topped with coleslaw and pickle slices and served on fresh brioche buns with a creamy remoulade-like Signature Soul Sauce. I had trouble discerning the mild from the medium.
But that may be because I made the mistake of tasting the Hot Box chicken first. After that initial tiny taste my tongue was numb.
Even the crinkle-cut fries that came with the Hot Box were exceptional. They were also seasoned, but next to everything else the sensation was slightly sweet.
Onsite ordering isn’t the only option; you may order through UberEats, as well. The UberEats prices are slightly higher but I doubt enough to counter the delivery service’s fee, so I chose to go to the restaurant and order in person. (The pickup prices, by the way, are ridiculously reasonable considering the quality of the food – $10 for the Hot Box and $13 for the two sandwiches.)
And Chicken Fire’s Covid precautions are very good. A young woman was stationed at the front door taking the temperature of anyone entering. (Would have been interesting to get a temperature reading after eating there!) All staff were masked were masked and checkout is contactless (cash is not accepted).
After ordering, customers are asked to wait outside for a text message that lets them know their order is ready. If there is a seat available inside, customers may choose to dine in.
The staff couldn’t have been friendlier – the young man who took my order was especially cheery – and Boakye, shown above, was on hand overseeing things.
He’s seized on one of the great tenets of a good business: choose one thing and do it well. In Chicken Fire, he does it very very well.
Chicken Fire is at 2425 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando (map). It is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday. There is no website and no phone number. Online ordering available through UberEats.