Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler. We’d like to thank Hop & Barrel Brewing for their underwriting support.
It has been a hot minute since food trucks caught much buzz in the metro area—even before COVID-19 put a cold hard hammerlock on dining and dishing in Minnesota, food trucks had slowly faded from “red hot“ to “part of the landscape.” Within the past year or two, they’ve (often unfairly) been rendered invisible against a backdrop of new and established brick-and-mortar restaurants.
The two trucks of the Nashville Coop hot fried chicken Minneapolis–St. Paul mini-empire may be the vehicles that turn that situation around. Since opening earlier this year, Nashville Coop has gained a reputation for doing some of the realest Nashville-style spicy fried chicken around. In an area where there isn’t much competition (the justifiably famous stuff at Revival being the one exception that leaps to mind) that doesn’t seem like much of an achievement, but if you sink your teeth into one of the Coop’s brioche bun sammiches ($12) you’ll instantly grasp what the hype is about.
The sandwiches come at four different levels of heat: Minnesota Nice (no heat), a mild Coop level, the Growlin’ (hot) level, and Cluckin’ Hot, which promises “24-hour pain.”
No fans of pain and curious as to whether Minnesota Nice would be a bland disaster, we signed up for the Nice and Growlin’ sammiches and chowed down. The Minnesota Nice sandwich was remarkably balanced. The juicy, beautifully brined chicken was covered in an assertively crunchy topping and the rich, tender brioche bun was a perfect cradle for the meat and tangy slaw which can (and should) be dressed with the zippy mayo-based coop sauce that comes on the side. It’s not proper Nashville heat, but it doesn’t claim to be and it’s a beautiful dish all on its own. The Growlin’ version, by contrast, packed a serious kick. The spices packed into the chicken breading were potent and the heat level built up with every bite, peaking at a level we’d describe as “formidable” but not “flavor-obscuring.” If you’re looking for real heat, Growlin’ delivers. And if you sign up for the “24-hour pain” level of spice, shoot us a note or tweet—it’s exactly the sort of thing we’d love to experience … secondhand.
The Dish: Fried Chicken Sammich, $12
The Place: Nashville Coop trucks, location varies (follow on Twitter or Instagram for details)
The Reason: Whatever spice level you demand of your fried chicken sandwiches, Nashville Coop delivers, and the fried bird itself is well worth a trip to one of their trucks.
Hop & Barrel Brewing Co., located in downtown Hudson, Wisconsin, takes a modern approach to classic beers. Hop & Barrel is best known for its clean and classic Minnesconsin Helles, its wide variety of IPAs, and the innovative brewing behind its true-to-flavor Lemon Breaker Shandy and Paul & Babe’s Breakfast Ale. Regardless of your taste, Hop & Barrel brews a little something for everyone!