Food Feuds: Comet Chicken vs. Music City Hot Chicken

Renee Ziel

graphic illustration of a chicken drumstick and a slice of pizza in a boxing match on a plate with the words Food Feuds titled above
(Graphic illustration by Robbie Haynes | The Collegian)

Fact: Fort Collins is known for its food. People have even heard that we have the most restaurants per capita in the country — which isn’t true, but the rumor speaks to our rampant foodie community. But with all the restaurants, hungry for your dime, how can a college kid know which joint is best? Enter Food Feuds.

First up is some finger-licking local chicken — Old Town’s Comet Chicken versus Prospect Road’s own Music City Hot Chicken. I’m not a meat eater usually, but I’ll go unapologetically feral for any good chicken sandwich when I eat out.

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Keep in mind, I’ll be getting the same exact thing from both places to keep the comparisons sincere. I’m judging how they play against one another directly. To compare these two restaurants, I got a regular chicken sandwich with a house sauce, a side of fries and Nashville hot chicken tenders from each.

Original chicken sandwich

The most discernible difference between the two original sandwiches was the house sauce. Comet’s had the best flavor by far, carrying a flavor punch with a little sweet that made the savory chicken stand out. The chicken was tender, and the batter, simple if a little bland, wasn’t hard to get through, so the sandwich worked in harmony.

Speaking of bland batter, Music City’s chicken is far more flavorful on its own. As good as Comet’s sauce is, the disappointing reality is that the sandwich desperately needs it. But the mark of truly good fried chicken is when it can stand on its own, and Music City succeeds in this endeavor.

However, this sandwich was not a joy to eat. The bun was hard, and the tenders on the sandwich were tough to get through. I don’t think I should be gnawing through resistant, overly-crunchy batter just to get a bite. And the sauce? There was a really sad dollop of it in the middle — so little that I can’t even judge it properly.

Because of this, Comet takes the win with sandwiches.

Fries

Oh, boy. Who doesn’t love potatoes? In any form, they’re guaranteed to be good, and french fries are often thought of as the best form of potato. If I wasn’t already convinced cheesecake is the food of the gods, I’d probably wager a few of my limbs that they eat french fries.

Even the lost soul who decided my Music City fries shouldn’t be salty or crispy is forgiven because fries are just that damn good. And one upside to Music City’s is that they get unique points because they’ve got a fun curl, and they’re fat over everything else. Fat fries mean more potato, and some people just want more potato for their buck.

I, personally, prefer a saltier fry. Comet’s were saltier, and some potato skin was left on, so they were perfectly crispy, but they were smaller, looking like the fries you might get in fast food. 

This one honestly comes down to personal preference, so I declare it a draw.

Nashville hot tenders

I have to preface this Nashville hot showdown by pointing out two things. One, everyone has a different tolerance for spice. I tend to be great with it, but I know a lot of people who would be chomping 6 feet of dirt if they’d eaten what I say “has a kick to it.” Two, Music City Hot Chicken is called that for a reason and has six discernible levels of heat on the menu: Southern, green chili blend, hot, Nashville hot, white hot and “flammable solid.” On the other hand, Comet isn’t marketing spicy chicken, and Nashville hot, which employs cayenne pepper, is one of the few hot things they have.

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This means I found Comet’s Nashville hot way spicier than I expected. Not only did they take no prisoners in their kitchen, but it’s a little powdery — so for the love of white meat, don’t inhale near it. However, the best thing about Comet is they bring the flavor no matter what. The dangerous thing with spice is that it can lose its flavor when you get too far up the Scoville scale. Comet’s hat tip to Tennessee kept me loving the tenders even when my nose was running.

Music City’s Nashville hot was good and spicy, but it loses its kick after the first couple of bites. There’s also a dangerous kind of spicy, in my experience, where you’ll completely lose it if both the spice and flavor aren’t enough. And while Music City’s chicken can stand proudly on its own, the hot tenders lose that pride entirely. Since Nashville hot is on the latter half of their spice scale, I expected much more. But don’t fret, MC enthusiasts — the chicken was still great.

By a very thin margin, Comet also takes the crown on Nashville hot tenders, but if you’re less tolerant of spice, you might opt for Music City’s take on the Nashville style instead.

This was a hard fight, and I walk away unable to even say Comet is much better since I thoroughly enjoyed both meals at the end of the day. Personal preference reigns in this chicken battle, so you have to decide whether you want fantastic flavor to go with decent chicken or whether you want amazing chicken with more variety on the extras.

Renee Ziel can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @reneeziel.