Now that folks are making good on the travel plans they talked about all last year, Nashville is a hot vacation destination again. For me that means friends and family coming to visit. And that means more hot chicken in my future.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I love watching a friend’s eyes water as we work our way through all the pan-fried, white-bread-soaked classics. But it is a lot of chicken. Fortunately, now that the BE-Hive Deli has its cheery, cherry-red dining room open on Gallatin Avenue, there’s a plant-based alternative. BE-Hive is known for its seitan, a whole-wheat protein that is used as a vegan meat substitute by The Wild Cow, Duke’s, Culture + Co. and others across the country. BE-Hive’s vegan Nashville Hot Fried Chxn sandwich ($9) is spicy — but not so much that it’s a dare — served on a soft, shiny, slightly sweet bun that cuts the heat with, of course, the traditional pickle. It has the look and feel of the poultry-centric real deal with darker areas signaling bites with the most spice. The menu includes a Plain Gain version, plus other vegan sandwiches and sides, if you want to tap out of the hot chicken craze for a meal. The BE-Hive is open Wednesday through Sunday.