Tumble 22 Hot Chicken in Houston Impresses With Big Flavor at Fair Prices

Array of food and drink

What’s in a name? At Tumble 22, it’s the secret to its success, as the name is taken from the process of hand-breading and hand-tossing — or “tumbling” — the chicken in a signature blend of flour and spices precisely 22 times. Considering that Tumble 22 started as an Austin food trailer in 2017 and now has six  brick-and-mortar restaurants  — four in Austin and now two in Houston — the concept and food is working.

The second location in Houston opened this month at 1017 Houston Avenue. (The first was the Vintage Park restaurant, which opened in 2020 at 10723 Louetta.) Anyone who’s ever had to spend a day in the Houston Municipal Courthouse and needed to grab lunch nearby will recognize the location as the former Avenue Grill.

The front of the new Tumble 22 Hot Chicken restaurant in Houston.
The front of the new Tumble 22 Hot Chicken restaurant in Houston. Photo by Johnnie Losoya of Consumable Content.

Tumble 22 has added some vibrancy to the little corner with a fun exterior paint job, small patio and a lively interior with a full bar. Houston Food Finder was invited to a media event to sample an array of the signature dishes and some customer favorites.

Deviled Eggs
“Heavenly Eggs”, deviled eggs with candied bacon at Tumble 22. Photo by Minh Truong.

The appetizers include deviled eggs capped with candied bacon. Appropriately called Heavenly Eggs, they were a favorite and I could easily eat a dozen of them in one sitting. The Szechuan Fries is a unique take on smothered fries. The crispy fries are topped with pulled chicken, Szechuan mustard sauce, Sriracha hot honey, cilantro and scallions.

Chicken Sandwich
The O.G. Sandwich at Tumble 22. Photo by Minh Truong.

While The OG, a chicken breast topped with coleslaw, bread and butter pickles and Duke’s mayo, put it on the map, it’s the other versions of the chicken sandwich that sets Tumble 22 apart from the other hot chicken spots in town. The Georgia Peach is topped with peach bacon jam and honey mustard, while the Tupelo Hot Honey gets drizzled with Sriracha hot honey and crowned with mango slaw.

Fried chicken and sides
Four-piece fried chicken and sides and Tumble 22. Photo by Minh Truong.

While the sandwiches may be the draw, the fried chicken is a pleasant surprise. The sizable pieces of bone-in chicken have crispy exteriors that stay intact as you bite into them. The meat is tender, juicy and well-seasoned with its blend of secret spices, that includes cayenne, that gives off a subtle smokey heat. Expertly fried, the chicken wasn’t greasy or heavy. Choose between white or dark meat, or a combo. Those looking for boneless options will find tenders, bites and boneless chicken thighs.

This wouldn’t be Nashville hot chicken without the heat, and Tumble 22 offers six different heat levels ranging from “painless” to “stupid hot”. The highest level is a challenge and isn’t recommended if you want to taste your food. The “mo hot”, which uses whole seeded jalapeño, is medium-range and offers both flavor and heat.

The sides here stand on their own. The coleslaw and mac and cheese are solid offerings, but the collard greens and broccoli salad are the way to go. The savory collard greens, with just a touch of spice, are cooked enough to hold a bite and aren’t mushy. The broccoli salad is creamy and tangy with a hint of sweetness from the addition of golden raisins. It pairs perfectly with the spicy chicken and mellows out the heat.

Diners who want to have their hot chicken without too much guilt can add tenders to a cobb or Caesar salad. For those who don’t want chicken at all, there’s the Dive Burger, with two quarter-pound patties, lettuce, tomato, onion, bread-and-butter pickles and rooster sauce.

Shakes
Milkshakes (PB Cookie Dough and Salted Caramel) at Tumble 22. Photo by Minh Truong.

Dessert is a must. That is evident as soon as you walk through the door, and you’re face-to-face with a display case of housemade pies. Choose from Pecan Chocolate Toffee, buttermilk, chocolate cream or blueberry. That same pecan pie also makes an appearance in shake form, alongside other flavors such as Oreo Cookie Cream, Peanut Butter Cookie dough and my favorite, salted caramel. The shakes are thick, and while reading the names alone can give you a toothache, they are not cloyingly sweet. For an extra kick, make any shake boozy with the addition of Jameson, Skrewball or Pecan Whiskey. If you just prefer a stiff drink, the full bar doles out craft beer on tap and cocktails such as The Big Larry, a frozen blood orange margarita with Grand Marnier.

Full bar
Full Bar Service at Tumble 22. Photo by Johnnie Losoya of Consumable Content

We enjoyed everything we tried, and my guest even remarked that it was one of the best chicken sandwiches he’d ever had. We also noticed the prices for the generous portions and what a great value the dishes are. The large chicken sandwiches are $11.95, the smaller version is just $7.95 and a four-piece fried chicken plate with two small sides is $14.95, making it the most expensive individual meal on the menu, and yet not expensive at all. Shakes are $5.95 and cocktails run from $5.50 to $9.95. 

There is no shortage of options for hot chicken and fried chicken in Houston but Tumble 22 does stand out with fresh ingredients, unique flavors and outstanding value for a great family night out.

Tumble 22 is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with extended hours until 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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