Chicken and waffles. Together. Crispy, savory chicken fried to golden perfection atop a fluffy waffle and a taste of sweet maple syrup (and hot sauce for some). Comfort food – or hangover food – extraordinaire. It’s nothing new of course. Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n Waffles rocketed this combo into popularity out in Los Angles in 1975. They now have five locations across California. It’s a must-visit destination for tourists and celebrities alike, even President Obama is on-record as a fan.
But chicken and waffles didn’t start at Roscoe’s in L.A. It goes all the way back to 1938 in Harlem at a place called Wells Supper Club, later called Wells Famous Home of Chicken and Waffles. It closed in 1999 but in its heyday, Wells hosted jazz greats and club-goers, serving them a little slice of the South after the bars closed.
Some think the idea came from late-night diners who were too late for dinner and too early for breakfast so the restaurant bridged the gap with both on one plate. One of my WFAE colleagues, Tena Simmons, used to visit Wells back in the 80s. “It was a hole-in-the-wall, but it was the hole-in-the-wall to get good food at 5:00 in the morning,” she says. She remembers its reputation during the Harlem Renaissance, playing host to writers, thinkers, musicians and artists.
So there you have it, Southern soul food via Harlem and Los Angeles. Now, Gladys Knight has a chicken and waffle restaurant in Atlanta. And IHOP has jumped on the bandwagon, much to the chagrin of many who claim it has taken the ‘soul’ out of soul food.
After chicken and waffles featured prominently in Charlotte Talks’ recent discussion on soul food, we decided that we simply must know where to find it in Charlotte. Maybe you’ve wondered this yourself? Well here’s the answer.
** This list is current as of April 2012!
- Bricktops (South Park) – 6401 Morrison Blvd – on the brunch menu
- McBonie’s Southern Food Bar & Grill – 4800 Monroe Rd.
- Smalls Food & Spirits (Elizabeth) – 1609 Elizabeth Ave – from menu: Crispy Chicken, Thyme Waffle, Salted Caramel Butter, Chili-Infused Honey
- The Midnight Diner – 115 East Carson Street
- Foskoskies Neighborhood Cafe – 2121 Shamrock Drive – from brunch menu: Southern fried chicken tenders, atop home style waffles with our delicious honey-pecan sauce
- Soul Gastrolounge – 1500-B Central Avenue – on Sunday brunch menu
- IHOP (for a limited time says their website)
- Terrace Cafe (2 locations – Ballantyne and South Park) – Malted Belgian Waffle topped w/Terrace Fried Chicken. Not on the regular menu but they say they run it often as a special.
- We heard a rumor that Showmars has it but I don’t see it on their menu.
Did we miss any? Let us know.
- Of course, you can always make chicken and waffles yourself if you were so inclined. Here’s a recipe from Emeril Lagasse for Fried Chicken and Buttermilk Waffles
- The Root | Which Came First: The Chicken or the Waffle? : Another black culinary tradition moves into the mainstream and sets off a debate about its origins