Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Mon.-Sat.
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack remains the yardstick by which everyone measures hot chicken — heat, crust, heat, you name it. Last year’s winner was Aqui Simpson Hines’ 400 Degrees at Fourth Avenue and Peabody. We took out-of-towners, and they radiated hot-chicken afterglow. This year it’s up-and-comer Pepperfire, which serves what is first and foremost perfectly cooked fried chicken: crisp to the bite outside, moist all the way through. The heat level isn’t up to Prince’s or 400 Degrees, but it’s hotter than Hattie B’s. (As they’ll tell you, they essentially size you up by what you’ve had elsewhere.) Plus it’s distinctive — the crust is lighter and faintly sweet, and what’s that unusual note in the spice profile (paprika? cumin?). Maybe you can teach the old bird new tricks.