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Cluck Norris – Spiciest Dish in Columbus Series

Cluck Norris can sneeze with their eyes open.

The concept of ghost kitchens isn’t new, but its become more prevalent across the country and especially Columbus over the past few years. Newer to the market is an offshoot of Rusty Bucket called Cluck Norris Ass Kickin’ Chicken. Columbus Business First had an article in April about the concept and it was summed up as, “There’s not a lot of risk for us… Our kitchens already exist. The bills are essentially paid, so we only see positives to gain.” It’s true! Not much to lose here if you have all the ingredients and simply need to label the door in which you ship fingers out as something other than “Rusty Bucket.”

Out of the Rusty Bucket family came Josh Yosick to deliver the new Cluck Norris concept, slinging “black belt-quality dishes” and playing on the chicken-y Chuck Norris moniker. Our adventure this week carried us to Budd Dairy Food Hall to snag some fingers from the brick-and-mortar location of Cluck Norris.

Small but mighty, Cluck Norris sits next to Modern Southern Table, which you may remember from their win on The Food Network’s “Food Court Wars” back in 2014. The only spot to get the crispy chicken fingers in person is the Cluck Norris in Budd Dairy Food Hall which sits across the street from Seventh Son Brewing in Italian Village.

Cluck Norris Menu

There’s more to the eye than just chicken fingers and sawce at Cluck Norris. The menu is also graced by a buffalo chicken sandwich with blue cheese crumbles (Buffalo Soldier), the secret-spiced Angry Bird sandwich with spicy ranch, and the Pig Tenderloin, a country-fried pork tenderloin sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and mayo. Sides are a la carte and include cole slaw, french fries, onion rings, and chicharrones. It’s a small but mighty menu and we haven’t even touched on their homemade sauces.

If you go the chicken finger route, you’ll end up with a side cup of one of their four sauces. From least to beast, Cluck Norris offers BBQ, Sweet Chili, Cluck’s Original, and the highest heat HOLY CLUCK.

Cluck Norris Holy Cluck! Sauce

Time waits for no chicken fingers, unless those chicken fingers are from Cluck Norris. As I gazed upon the golden brown fingers and sack of fries, my eyes were drawn to the napalm orange glow of the Holy Cluck! sauce. A small innocuous container for dipping, I took a whiff and began dipping strips. On initial dip, there was a solid hit of vinegar, a slight saltiness, and the heat of a mid-range pepper, likely habanero, but Rusty Bucket/Cluck Norris was unreachable for confirmation. It’s a thicker sauce with a bit of chunkiness, focusing more on the ingredients within than a runny vinegary concoction.

Similar to other wing sauces we’ve had, Holy Cluck! contains that addictive nature which to me is the measure of a solid hot sauce. The proper ratios of heat and vinegar, playing nicely with garlic and spices to deliver a fist of fury to your face. I could feel my under eyes developing a bit of sweat as I became aware of all the people buzzing about the Budd Dairy Food Hall. Finger two led to a nose drip or two and I began to worry about the amount of sauce remaining. Would it be enough? Was I overdoing it? The answer to both questions was no.

Down to my final fingers, I scraped as much sauce as I could out of the dregs. Out of the corner of my eye I swore I saw Ranger Cordell Walker disappearing into the crowd, but as I squinted, the figure faded further. Empty cup before me, face warm, and mouth cooling down, I stared at my bag of fries, sad there was no more sauce for dipping. Lesson learned, get two cups.

Holy Cluck! may not be capable of making onions cry or drowning fish, but it’s a solid contribution to the spicy market of Columbus. We’re placing Cluck Norris’ Ass-Kickin’ Chicken at #35 on our list, just after Aangan India Bistro’s Level 6 Lamb Vindaloo and right before Bawarchi’s Chili Idli.

You can find Cluck Norris around Columbus, or at the Budd Dairy Food Hall at 1086 N Fourth St., Columbus, OH 43201.

Look below for more on our spiciest dish in Columbus series and hit us up if you have any suggestions that are not already on our list!

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