You know me and fried chicken, so when a friend asked me to try Zeke’s, I was all for it. They advertise as serving “Nashville hot” chicken. This place used to be a hot dog place—and interestingly, it must be owned by the same people because the Zacky’s signage is still up inside and you can still get hot dogs as well as some other sandwiches like a pork tenderloin and Italian beef. I do think that being a fried chicken place is more appealing than a hot dog place, but you knew I would think that.
We were there to try the chicken though so that’s what we did. A two-piece meal with two sides ran about $9-10. I got the dark meat combo. Because I don’t love my chicken sauced in the Nashville hot chicken way (because it gets kind of soggy) I ordered the southern style, which she told me still have a fair amount of seasoning. She was right—although it wasn’t hot, there was a nice peppery edge to the coating. They were making it fresh as well, which I appreciated and it came out smoking hot. The inside was tender and juicy as well. Overall, I would say it was pretty decent chicken. Interestingly, my friend ordered the hot version, and it was actually a dry rub of seasoning on the chicken instead of a hot sauce type of thing. Honestly, it was sort of like they just sprinkled the spice mix on top after it came out of the fryer. Now, this obviously solves the problem of getting the skin soggy, but I am not sure if I liked this better regardless (I had a bite). You kind of inhaled all that seasoning as you ate it, which is kind of weird and it made it taste a bit dry.
The sides were ok, the mac and cheese was the best one. Nice and cheesy, although needed some salt and pepper. Greens weren’t bad, but didn’t really stand out. Potato salad was pretty bland. I’m not really sure why I keep ordering potato salad everywhere—I guess I am an eternal optimist because I just keep hoping, but rarely am I excited. But they are making a good effort to do something fresh and unique in Carmel, in an area totally full of chains and I appreciate that.
The best thing about the place actually is the staff. They are super friendly and extremely enthusiastic about the food. They are happy to answer all your questions and make suggestions. It’s nice to see.
So would I run in here before running into any of the fast food joints around it if I were in the neighborhood? Absolutely. It is worth a stop for a quick lunch. Would I go out of my way to go to Carmel to get it? Probably not.
I have not really heard anyone talking about this one though—surely some of you guys have been here. Tell me what you thought.
Zeke’s Hot Chicken
1315 South Rangeline Road
Carmel, IN 46032