Dear Seattle Restaurants: A Chicken and Waffles Challenge

Chicken and Waffles This picture, folks, is the ultimate in chicken and waffle cuisine. Not familiar? Neither was I. I was dubious, to say the least, as all of my friends urged me to try Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles while I was on vacation in Los Angeles. I like fried chicken as much as the next person, and well, who can dislike a waffle, right? But together…I narrowed my eyes in wary judgment. How wrong I was! Now, I’m reduced to chasing this delicacy up the coastline, in search of the same succulence. Seattle restaurant owners, I issue you this challenge: Make a chicken and waffle dish that rivals Roscoe’s.

Roscoes House of Chicken and Waffles

We turned into a tiny parking lot, filled with a collection of cars that could just as easily have been found on blocks in a nearby yard. A few people spilled out the restaurant door. Quite literally, I mean they spilled–my eyes again narrowed in judgment. Not that having a few strung out junkies in front has ever stopped me from eating in a restaurant, I just wasn’t sure what I was in for.

Then the surprises started. Somewhere between your local Denny’s and a low brow steakhouse lies the decor of the this ‘House’ of chicken and waffles. There are more chicken and waffle combinations on the menu than I’ve got fingers on both hands. I’m often stumped by what to order because I don’t know what I want. Here, I knew I wanted chicken and waffles but how many legs, how many thighs, what kind of gravy-or maybe just syrup. Dare I say, this overload of information was causing me to waffle?

Honestly, I don’t remember what we chose. There was chicken, there was waffle, there was syrup, there was gravy. It was all a blur of flying bones and tiny little squares. We demolished it. How has nobody ever told me how amazing chicken and waffles are?? Oh, wait. They did. I promise to listen next time.

Now, when I tell people it’s their turn not to believe me. I describe how the thin crunch of the waffle edges mirrored that of the chicken, with both giving way to soft interiors. The salty and sweet coming together in some sort of marriage, glued with thick gravy and sticky syrup. Quick melting butter bringing the orgy of un-health to a slippery crescendo.

Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles on Urbanspoon

So, as expected, I went in search of such a culinary delight in my own area.

Try #1: Barrio

Shortly after returning from LA, I received an email inviting me to dine on Barrio’s new menu. I have been there before and again, so I wasn’t sure. Until a menu item caught my eye:  Fried Chicken & Poblano Waffles, with fried eggs and chipotle-maple syrup. There it was! I hadn’t even had to look for it. We went, we chickened, and we lived. It was a good meal, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. A thick, soft waffle was great to eat, but lacked the light crunch for which I had hoped. Don’t feel too bad–while the chicken and waffles weren’t soaring above expectations, we also located the Pork Belly Benedict with chile braised pork belly, toasted brioche, poached eggs, habanero hollandaise sauce, fresh tomato salsa and fried jalapeño served with papas bravas. This actually hit many of the same notes we had hoped for in the chicken–salty, sweet, overwhelmingly delicious…
  Barrio Capitol Hill on Urbanspoon

Try # 2: Kingfish Cafe

At the time, we lived next door to Kingfish, but rarely went. People love it, the line was always out the door, and yet, we went maybe twice in a year of living next door. However, one of those two times was to try the chicken and waffles (the other was a ‘cake for dinner’ incident). The chicken, as its reputation preceded it, was as wonderful. It has a lightly crisped skin and is more about the juicy meat than the crunchy skin, which is fine, though, I learned, made it less successful for the holy grail combo of chicken and waffles. While the waffle itself was also quite good, the match wasn’t right and the gravy was both bland and yet overwhelmingly flavored with dried herbs. We moved on.

Kingfish Cafe on Urbanspoon

Try #3 and 4 : Captain Black’s and Local 360

An entire bar, purportedly devoted to only two things, chicken and waffles and being tiny and hip? Well, it seemed quite successful at being tiny and hip, as we squeezed onto the bar for Captain Black’s happy hour good times and PBR tallboys were had by all. Local 360 was an entirely different scene–I happened to be there for a work lunch. Everyone ordered nice business lunches, salads and sandwiches. I looked around and requested my chicken and waffles. Yes, I’ll admit that it was lightly awkward, grubbing down while everyone talked shop and munched politely, but that, dear readers, is what I do for you. Moving on, the results. I grouped these two together, because quite frankly, nothing sticks out about either of them. It was reasonably good chicken and reasonably good waffle, both served together on a plate. But the holy grail was left unachieved.
Captain Black's on Urbanspoon Local 360 on Urbanspoon

At this point, I began to think that really, only Roscoe’s could make a decent chicken and waffles. They knew a secret, and nobody else understood. To fill my need, I would have to fly to LA. Then, just before giving up, I found chicken and waffles within driving distance.

Screen Door

There it was, just three hours to the south, waiting for me in Portland. It proved my conclusions wrong. Not only could someone do a fabulous chicken in waffles outside of Los Angeles, they could do it in a totally different style. Screen Door’s chicken and waffles have thick, crunchy skin, soft, tender meat and only a thin veneer of crisp on the waffle. Yet, somehow, the sum of its parts come together into that magical chickenandwaffles, all one word, that I had been seeking out.

Screen Door on Urbanspoon

So, Seattle restaurants. I issue you this challenge: Go forth and make chicken, go forth and make waffles. Then put them together into a dish that comes together and makes the breakfast gods sing.

Los Angeles has it. Portland has it. Dear Seattle, why can’t we have chicken and waffles too?


  1. There’s something amazing about Roscoe’s that I’ve never been able to entirely recreate- possibly because I haven’t eaten chicken and waffles in Seattle at 2am after going out all night here. But for our money, The Skillet comes closest. Their waffle is a little fancier than Roscoes (it’s a cornmeal one, I believe), but it’s the best we’ve found up here.

  2. I also like to venture to Roscoe’s when I’m in the LA area. But I agree with the reader above that the Skillet’s chicken & waffles comes a close 2nd if you’re looking for this in the Seattle area. The waffle is a cornmeal one (which is a great idea) that’s slightly crisp on the outside to withstand all of the syrup/gravy you want but still be nice & fluffy on the inside. Please go try this dish if you haven’t already & let us know what you think

    • So, I made a concerted effort to try the Skillet Chicken and Waffles–the first time I was there, they had the Pork Belly and waffles instead, which were good, though too porky for me (lovely waffle, though), and the second time they had neither on the menu! Is it maybe only offered at dinner? I’ve only been for brunch, had assumed that would be when it was served. Either way, thanks for the input, Marissa and Aubrey, I’ll make sure to update you guys when I get to them!

  3. We just went to Screen Door this morning, I didn’t know it was the winner! Everything there was delicious.

  4. I like to call that “having it nearby” phenomena. This is something that fellow blogger Sherman (Sherman’s Food Adventures) and I discussed while we were in San Francisco, after trying In-and-Out and Roli-Roti (as a reminder, both of us are from Vancouver!).

    I mean, why in the world would we waste a meal in another city trying, out of all things, something so generic or mundane (for the lack of better word options… )? I mean, it isn’t that we lack burger shops (we even have Five Guys and Burgers) or that I can’t go to Chinatown, get some Chinese roasted pork, put it between two slices of bread and call it a porchetta sandwich… It is just that brand name recognition and the fact we can’t have it whenever we want it!

    I am sure that, if there was a Roscoe’s in Seattle, that excitement will wane… Probably a lot! So, in the meantime, enjoy those memories of Roscoes and Screen Door. After all, having them at arms lenght means you will be looking for the next equivalent dish! ;)

    (On that note, when you are coming to Vancouver? :D )

  5. I have only tried the chicken & waffles at Local 360. I thought they were pretty good – but I did add my own twist to it – 2 fried eggs on top. One day I will get to LA to try Roscoe’s but until then my neighborhood spot will have to do.

  6. If you want the real thing go to Harlem or Atlanta. There’s a place we found in the Fillmore in SF, Gussie’s Chicken & Waffles that was really good and had some interesting waffle choices. We are going to do some home made waffles with Ezell’s chicken and see how that turns out.

  7. Just found your blog via Serious Eats! If you’re still on a quest, The Burgundian just opened up in Tangletown and they have a superb chicken and waffles dish. They do brunch all day, so you could even do it for dinner, if you want. I like it better than Skillet’s, but of course, everybody has their own opinion. :)

    • Thanks Kristina! I happen to be having dinner there soon, I’ll have to check it out. I also tried Hitchcock, on Bainbridge Island, for their Americana night last night, and they had a stellar version! Things are improving for us chicken and waffle fans in Seattle!


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