You Want Some Fries With That Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish?

Nashville hot chicken is a regional variety of fried chicken, prepared with cayenne pepper paste and served with white bread and dill pickle chips. The Huntsville area’s most recent channel for it is Big Shake’s Hot Chicken and Fish, a Franklin, Tennessee based chain that has opened its third location about a mile west of Redstone Arsenal Gate 7 on Martin Road.

The model at Big Shake’s is an attentive strain of fast casual. You order and pay, and then they’re pretty good about seeing about you the rest of your visit. (Keep that in mind when you have an opportunity to tip at the register.) The spacious dining room is attractively finished, with a soundtrack of rhythm & blues from the past 50 or so years.

Big Shake's Hot Chicken & Fish

I was not successful on my first attempt to visit Big Shake’s, because I went for lunch and I was not prompt. Be advised this place goes from zero to overrun — as in, line out the door, and there’s a Disney World-style feeder line inside — in the blink of an eye. Now they do process the line efficiently, but two dozen people in front of you is two dozen people in front of you. The boys and I had a much more leisurely and relaxed experience at dinnertime.

If you’re not a hot and spicy sort, don’t let the “Hot” in the name scare you off. Big Shake’s reports that fully 50% of the chicken and fish it sells has no heat (ask for Original). If you do get the heat, the first level up is Cry Baby. In the middle is Stop, Drop N Roll. Second from the top is Rambo. And, the hottest level is called Executioner.


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I went for the whole wings with cole slaw and seasoned fries – ideal accompaniments, by the way. My wings were a golden brown color with a slight reddish caste, fried to an appealing crisp. And I asked for Executioner.

Big Shake’s Brings the Heat

I am a seasoned expert hot food consumer, and I’m here to tell you these things came out of the gate at 100 miles an hour. Instant and searing, the heat relents only modestly with the application of soda, and the climb is impressive. With two of them gone with the aid of five cups of soda, and my head drenched in sweat, the third one glared up at me defiantly. Let’s go, man, it seemed to say. You wanted this. Let’s party.

I finished them, and they were delicious. This pleased me, because I didn’t have a good experience with Nashville hot chicken the first time around, and I definitely did at Big Shake’s. But it was much more heat than I expected, pulling a solid 8 on my scale. I felt a little ambushed by my choice. I’ll drop to Stop, Drop N Roll next time and see how we go.


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Aaron ordered a shrimp burger, but they were out of those. So he went with chicken and waffles — a standby favorite of his. He spoke highly of it, and was also particularly complimentary of the macaroni and cheese, which he compared favorably to homemade. He went Rambo and enjoyed it. Nathan had the Hot Mess chicken sandwich in Cry Baby heat with about a square mile of cornbread, and also made a happy plate.

Big Shake’s Kid’s Menu & Dessert

There is a dessert of fried Oreos that, alas, we were all too stuffed for. The kids’ menu includes a choice of a jumbo chicken tender, a whole chicken wing, or a corn dog. Fries, cookies, white bread, a children’s drink, and dipping sauce are included for $5.

Highchairs are available for little folks. Restrooms are clean single-seaters, but they do not include changing tables. There is room for them, so hopefully we’ll see them eventually.

I’m looking forward to returning to Big Shake’s to try the wings just a little tamer, and we didn’t get a fish entrée, so I want to try that too. This is a good place to make both spicy food lovers and those with tamer palates happy, and with most individual items at $10 or less and family meals available, it’ll fit the budget too. Get Big Shake’s in your mix.


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Big Shake's Hot Chicken & Fish

Big Shake’s Hot Chicken and Fish Details

Location: 671 Martin Rd. SW, Huntsville (map)
Phone: (256) 963-9444
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11am-8pm | Closed Sunday
View Website | Big Shake’s on Facebook

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Big Shakes hot chicken fish