At first glance, fried chicken and waffles shouldn’t be a combination that works. Fried chicken is juicy, crunchy, and super-savory, and waffles are a breakfast dish eaten with syrup and butter. But somehow, when you pair the two together, something magical happens. These 10 restaurants do chicken and waffles better than just about anyone in America.
This chicken and waffles joint, which is co-owned by rapper Nas, has done gangbusters since the first location opened in Williamsburg, Brooklyn a few years back, with two additional locations in New York and one in Los Angeles opening since then. The chicken and waffle options here are plentiful and creative, with waffle options including bacon-cheddar, dried cherry, rosemary-mushroom, apple cinnamon, and spiced pecan; you can also order your chicken Buffalo-fried with a celery and carrot waffle, Cordon Bleu style with a Gruyere and thyme waffle, or with General Tso’s sauce and a rice and broccoli waffle.
But if it’s your first time, you’ll probably just want to try the classic version. The chicken is sweet tea-brined, seasoned with oregano, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and paprika, buttermilk-dipped, dredged in flour and cornstarch, and fried in a cast iron skillet; and the waffles are light and airy on the inside and crisp on the outside.
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar / Facebook
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar brings a Southern charm and influence to Miami, a place better known for its Cuban and Spanish food. Former chef Jeff McInnis, who has since moved on from Yardbird to open Root & Bone in New York City, is said to have boiled this fried chicken recipe down to a science by brining the chicken for 27 hours before dredging it in cayenne-spiced flour and frying it. Yardbird’s fried chicken has received numerous accolades in recent years, and for good reason. You just have to taste it yourself to see what the fuss is all about.
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This gastropub might be a hipster haven, but its chicken and waffle game is still very strong. The leg and thigh from Slagel Family Farms are fried in a batter that generously soaks up maple syrup, and a crispy, crunchy waffle serves as a sturdy base. And don’t forget about the sweet potato and pork belly hash that’s served with it; it’s far tastier than it has any right to be.
Kevin McCayket / Hattie B’s Hot Chicken / Facebook
The chicken at Hattie B’s is not for those who are afraid of heat, though there is a no-spice option available for people who just want to enjoy the perfectly crisp, not-too-thick texture. The secret to the perfect spice is actually a little bit of brown sugar to lighten up the cayenne. On Sundays, you can order a waffle to go along with your chicken. Perfectly crisp and topped with powdered sugar, the waffle is the angel that balances out the devilishly spicy chicken. Expect to wait in line for at least an hour, but also expect to not regret doing so once you get this incredible plate of chicken and waffles.
Yelp / Mike Y
The chicken at this old-school Denver diner is brined in buttermilk and seasonings for 24 hours before being breaded and fried to order, and the Belgian-style waffles are also made to order and served alongside a pool of red-eye gravy made with coffee, Jim Beam, and bacon. A certified pile of fried chicken comes with every order, so make sure you come hungry.
The chicken and waffles at the lively Maxine’s are things of beauty — a waffle (which you can also order filled with blueberry or sweet potato) balances three huge savory fried chicken wings, and house-made peach butter ties it all together. If that’s not “a taste of love in every bite,” as the restaurant promises, we’re not sure what is.
Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles / Facebook
Everything is made from scratch at this Phoenix mainstay, which has five locations in Arizona, one in Omaha, and others coming to Las Vegas and Southlake, Texas. The seasoning blend on the chicken has been passed down through several generations, and the waffle batter recipe yields a light and fluffy waffle with an almost creamy center.
Yelp / Michael U
It’s all about the little details at this Charleston institution. For example, the chicken in their chicken and waffles is double-breaded with a combination of ground pecans and flour, so it takes on a nutty flavor. The waffle batter is spiked with a small amount of cinnamon, and honey mustard sauce served on the side (along with maple syrup) is a no-brainer. With so much thought given to every single component, there’s no way that these chicken and waffles wouldn’t be legendary.
Yelp / Saori E
if chicken and waffles were popularized in Harlem, Amy Ruth’s is ground zero. Order white meat and you’ll get a whole breast with the wing still attached, on top of a fresh and crispy Belgian waffle with a side of thick gravy that’s been flavored with Vermont maple syrup. That gravy could probably make even an old shoe taste good, but atop these chicken and waffles, it’s heaven.
Yelp / Alvin C
This late-night spot, originally located in Hollywood, has been serving fried chicken and waffles since 1975 — when owner and Harlem-bred Herb Hudson brought some recipes from home to the West Coast — and has since expanded into a small local chain of restaurants. The list of celebrity diners is endless (which is no surprise, considering its Los Angeles locale), but regulars include Snoop Dogg and Larry King; even President Obama made a pit stop at Roscoe’s during a visit to Los Angeles. The chicken is skillet-fried fresh to order, and make sure to ask for your waffles to be cooked extra-crispy.