Foodie Spotlight: At Joella’s Hot Chicken, the bird ‘bites back’

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Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America.  A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks.  This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.

Review by Dustin Heller (@eatindywatchindie on Instagram; head to his page for a chance to win a gift card)

Hot chicken has been one of the biggest food trends in Indy over the past couple of years.  It seems like everyone from fast food joints to trendy bistros has taken a stab at perfecting the hot chick.  Let me make it easy for all of you: get your hot chicken from a place that specializes in it!  Joella’s Hot Chicken has three Indiana locations (north side Indy, Broad Ripple, and Bloomington) where they’re serving up “The Bird that Bites Back” (love that slogan!).

Photo from @davepluimer

Joella’s is a bright and vibrant place that has a certain southern charm about it.  From the vivid red and yellow walls to the multicolored chairs, Joella’s is fun and full of life.  The Broad Ripple location even has an outdoor patio overlooking the White River.  Hurry up and pay a visit before the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Photo from @davepluimer

When it comes to the food at Joella’s, chicken is king!  Not only is it the centerpiece of their fabulous menu, the chicken is all natural and 100% antibiotic free and hormone free.  Woo hoo! Once you’ve selected your favorite type of chicken, it’s time to select your heat level.  It’s really a question of how brave you are.

If chicken isn’t your cup of tea, they also have fresh salad options and a laundry list of southern sides that are sure to please.  To cap off the meal, don’t look past the decadent dessert menu (you can always make room, right?).

That's the broad overview of Joella’s menu. Now let me trim it down to my four “can’t miss” choices:

Big Wings: The crispy fried wing of a chicken has got to be at the top of my list of guilty pleasures.  I don’t feel guilty because it’s deep fried, I feel guilty because I eat like 20 of them at one sitting.  The wings at Joella’s are as big as any you’ll find anywhere; with huge size comes huge taste!  They are fried to perfection and coated with Joella’s special seasoning.  The question remains: what is your heat level?  If you’re up to the test, go with the “Fire in the Hole,” their hottest option. You won’t be disappointed…maybe just a little sweaty.

Photo from @davepluimer

Pimento Chicken Sammie: The chicken sandwiches at Joella’s are the real deal!  The classic sammie begins with a plump chicken breast (fried or grilled) seasoned to your desired heat level and served on a fresh bun with pickles.  Simplistic perfection, even though we typically don’t do simple in Foodie Spotlight.  Let’s take that same juicy chicken breast and smother it with homemade pimento cheese that would make any Southerner proud.  I’d recommend the milder “spiked honey” heat level so as to not take away from the cheese.

Photo from @davepluimer

Apple Pie in a Jar: Is it possible to get any more American than taking delicious apple pie and stuffing it in jar?  I think not.  Anyway, let me paint a picture for you: tart apples, cinnamon and sugar all baked in a perfectly flaky crust.  Then it comes out of the oven, into a personalized Joella’s Hot Chicken jar, into the fridge, into your belly.  You know the rules around here: Never Skip Dessert!

Photo from @davepluimer

Jumbo Tenders: I think it’s safe to say that if the word “Jumbo” appears on a menu, no matter what word follows, I’m going to order it.  You can’t get too much of a good thing, right?  These chicken tenders truly hit the spot.  The breading has a nice crunch and is a perfect home for the heat level seasoning.  The tenders are served on white bread with a dill pickle on top.  Hot is my recommended heat level for the tenders; you can feel the heat, but you won’t be chugging milk afterwards either.  On a side note (pun intended), don’t miss out on the fries--they’re amazing!

Photo from @davepluimer

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