The thought of fried chicken and waffles served together is, depending on your viewpoint, either gloriously appetizing or somewhat frightening. Who knows, maybe both. But for such a beloved combination of salty and sweet, it seems there's no universally agreed upon way to serve it. From the waffle (thin and soft, or Belgian), to the chicken (juicy leg and thigh, or meaty breast), there are myriad combinations of these ingredients. Then add your choice of condiments -- butter, syrup, Red Rooster sauce, gravy -- and it can all feel a bit overwhelming. We've endured the subsequent food comas to test the many possibilities of this cult-like dish, from the traditional to the fancy, and in every price range and neighborhood.
A.O.C.'s new location is magical and romantic, albeit pricey, but indulging in this hearty dish is a relatively inexpensive way to experience Suzanne Goin's excellent wine bar. Her version of chicken and waffles is perhaps the most variant from its traditional counterpart. A cornmeal waffle is topped with A.O.C.'s spicy Spanish fried chicken, served in strips of breast tenders, and then layered with sliced prosciutto. It's a stylized, yet incredibly flavorful and textured, version of this dish that packs a punch. 8700 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (310) 859-9859.
Hip, but not overly so, SteamPunk is a surprising little coffee shop on an unassuming stretch on Burbank Blvd. Abundant street parking (hallelujah!), bountiful seating and Caffe Vita coffee make this a welcome escape from the chaos of central L.A. The house specialty here is a chicken and waffle "stack," which gives the dish a fun twist. Miniature waffles sandwich not just buttermilk battered fried chicken, but bacon and fried egg, although you may find it easier to eat with a knife and fork. The extra ingredients don't detract from the chicken or the waffle, and a cayenne maple aioli gives it the kick that spice-lovers seek. The stack is served with a kale salad with garlic and onion, just in case health is a priority for you. 12526 Burbank Blvd., Valley Village; (818) 508-1276.
Don't try to ask for breasts or thighs here (or a Royale with cheese) -- this L.A. institution serves up a wicked waffle with wings. While many visit Pann's to catch a glimpse of memorabilia from Pulp Fiction (it was filmed at Pann's former sister restaurant, Holly's), they keep coming back for the house specialty. A classically simple Belgian waffle holds up against the hot syrup and melted butter, it's grooves filling with liquid but never getting soggy. The crispy outer layer of the chicken wing balances out the substantial waffle, and the wings themselves are meatier than most. All that served in a retro diner where you and your fellow cinephiles can reenact scenes from Pulp Fiction. 6710 La Tijera Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 776-3770.
6. Willie Jane
Chef Govind Armstrong gives his version of chicken and waffles some southern flair at his new-ish Venice brunch destination, Willie Jane. He sticks to perfectly fried wings and thighs that retain their juices while giving off a little heat. The dish is accompanied by a sweet and spicy slaw, and garnished with small jalapeño slices. Those who gravitate towards the savory are sure to love it, and bottomless mimosas can't hurt either. 1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 392-2425.
While the chicken and waffles aren't the focus here -- you'll have to dig through a lengthy menu to find it -- if that's what you want, you should order "The Cookie." It comes with five fried chicken wings and a waffle, and when asked if you want to add cinnamon to the waffle, you should definitely agree. The place itself has an updated-old-school vibe, and super sweet servers will make you feel like a regular. Butter pools up on one side of the thin waffle, and the fry comes off the wings in geode-like formations. While several Yelpers claim The Serving Spoon is better than Roscoe's, it's easy to see the comparison, but you'll have to decide for yourself which one you prefer. 1403 Centinela Ave., Inglewood; (310) 412-3927.
If you're looking for fried chicken, Bouchon might not be the place for you. It's the one exception on our list with roasted chicken, but we had to include it because it's just that good. This might be the most chichi service you'll ever experience while eating a waffle, but still, there's something fun about ordering such a playful dish in such a formal environment. The Belgian waffle is allegedly made with bacon and chives, which you may or may not notice because the chicken is exploding with juice and flavor, complementing the waffle perfectly. The standout condiment here is a Tahitian vanilla butter, which is exactly what it sounds like, and yes, it might make you never want to eat regular butter again. At $27, it's the priciest chicken and waffles dish on our list, but the experience is worth it. 235 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills; (310) 271-9910.
3. Brite Spot
What you order is exactly what you get at this kitschy Echo Park diner. The no-frills Belgian waffle comes topped with every piece of both white and dark meat chicken, butter, syrup and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. It's a straightforward but spot-on take of this dish, but exactly what makes it so good? Maybe it's because you can eat it on their adorable, hedge-lined patio, maybe it's because it's open until 3 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, so you can satisfy those late-night cravings. Oh, and there's pie. 1918 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles; (213) 484-9800.
What many places seem to struggle with is the waffle part of the equation, but at The Tasting Kitchen, chef Casey Lane has got it down. With the option to stuff bacon into your waffle (why wouldn't you?), the waffle itself remains crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. While gravy is often overlooked with chicken and waffles, this one is a welcome addition. As for the chicken, think an elegant version of KFC, in the best possible way -- juicy, but not greasy, crispy but not overwhelming. Helpful hint: it is only served at weekend brunch, and they tend to run out on Sunday's, so try to go early in the day on a Saturday. 1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 392-2425.
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Roscoe's large, manhole-cover style waffles never fail, and while they're substantial enough to support the chicken, they're soft enough to make eating them vastly enjoyable. Because chicken and waffles is the specialty here, there are seemingly endless combinations of how to order the dish. There's the Carole C. Special, with one chicken breast and one waffle. There's Herb's Special, which gives you two waffles and half a chicken, with your choice of cuts. Or go with Obama's favorite, the Country Boy, with three wings and a waffle. Yep, Roscoe's is president-approved (most locations have framed photographs of him from his visit to the restaurant) and even if you don't agree with him on much else, we're fairly certain you can agree on Roscoe's. 5006 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, and other locations; (323) 934-4405.
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Editor's note: This post has been changed to further clarify the Pulp Fiction reference.