The "insane" chicken at Sisters and Brothers. Photo by Olivia Hall

Nashville Hot Chicken Blazes Into Georgetown

The chicken is the hottest item on the menu at Sisters and Brothers … literally.

A sure sign that the Nashville Hot Chicken at Sisters and Brothers (1128 S. Albro St., 762-3767) is the real deal came with the hiccups. Soon after ordering the “insane” heat level, I was overtaken with the kind of uncontrollable spasms that come only when things get painfully hot.

What gives it its kick? Based on some cursory Internet research, my own trustworthy palate, and the skin’s deep-red hue, I’d bet on a mixture of chili powder, cayenne, and paprika—and possibly some Tabasco-like vinegar-based sauce. What’s particularly great about this chicken, though, is that despite the mass assault of heat, the actual meat is flavorful; the paprika and less-aggressive spices eke their way out from beneath the deeply fried, finger-staining skin.

There’s not much reason to come here if you don’t like fried chicken. The intentionally divey joint across from the Boeing air field and next to a cheesy Cowgirls Espresso stand—yet in the trendy shadow of Jet City Winery—has edited its menu down to the chicken (available in three milder versions and in various serving sizes, up to a half-bird) that comes with a slice of white bread, sweet bread-and-butter pickles (a cooling antidote), and a choice of a side—fries, cabbage and pepper slaw, and mac ’n’ cheese among them. Otherwise, there are a few sandwiches, one salad, and some small snacks like pickled veggies and deviled eggs.

We went with the mac, which is made with smoked Gouda and Cheddar. The Gouda is barely perceptible and the whole affair, rather mild-mannered, reminded me more of a macaroni salad. The deviled eggs are good, not reinvented in any way, which I actually appreciated. Though I yearned for the fried green tomato sandwich, I couldn’t resist trying the Fernet-braised beef-cheek sandwich. I had to find out if it was a gimmick, Fernet being such a hip bartender favorite. It is, but it barely matters. The sandwich is tasty as hell, with juicy meat and a salsa verde that dominates (and probably accounts for the lack of Fernet flavor).

The space itself has two predominant themes at play: mountains and beer. Landscape paintings of Washington scenery and Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller light fixtures account for much of the decor, with an occasional Garfield or Smurf cartoon or a sports pennant thrown in for good measure. A couple of tables are repurposed video games (like Ms. Pac Man) and the floor is an ugly red, blue, and black checkered linoleum. It’s Pacific Northwest kitsch, and you can’t help but kind of love it. Just like the chicken.

In keeping with the unpretentious ambience, the drink list consists of just a few beers, though the server reminded us that they had a full bar. I’ve grown so used to precious craft-cocktail lists that I completely blanked when trying to figure out what drink to order. That’s pathetic. I finally sputtered out “… a Moscow Mule?” The server said, sure, as long as I was OK with it not coming in a copper cup. Of course I was. Geez. What has the world come to?

This place fits seamlessly into the Georgetown diner and bar scene—and you can’t help hoping that the neighborhood will keep its vibe even as newcomers descend. If this is any indication, it’s headed down the right path.

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