We don’t often go out to eat when we visit LA – my mother-in-law is a superb cook, and is all too happy to show off her skills for visitors – but on a July visit, we found ourselves a long ways away from home as lunchtime approached. A former co-worker from SoCal had been telling me for months to try the chicken and waffles at Roscoe’s, and since we were in the general vicinity of the West LA location, my wife and I headed that way to get some comfort food.
Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n Waffles
- 5006 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA; 6 other locations throughout Southern California
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday 8 am-midnight; Friday & Saturday 8 am-2 am
- Price: $10-20 per person, no alcohol
Directions: From the 10 freeway (Santa Monica Freeway), exit at La Brea Avenue, head north, then turn left at Pico. Restaurant is on the left. Beware, the parking lot has very limited space for vehicles. If you’re there during peak hours, you will probably have to park on the street. At lunchtime on Saturday, I had to go all the way down to Venice Boulevard to find a spot.
Roscoe’s is a true LA institution, with the original opening in Hollywood in 1975. The restaurant became a favorite of celebrities such as Natalie Cole and Redd Foxx, and eventually, it became popular with Hollywood celebrities generally. And of course, Angelenos of all walks of life flocked to the corner of Sunset and Gower to enjoy the strange combination of a piece of fried chicken with a waffle.
My co-worker had warned me that Roscoe’s gets busy around lunchtime, and he wasn’t kidding. At 12:45, the porch outside was already full of people waiting for a table, and the guy taking names said it would be a 30-40 minute wait. We ended up getting seated after about 15 minutes, and it was definitely hopping inside.
Speaking of inside, the look is…interesting. It reminded me of a Shoney’s circa 1987. I could get over that, though, as long as the food was good. The old school, laminated menus actually contain a lot more choices than just chicken and waffles…
…but considering that we’d come all the way from Dallas to a place that specializes in chicken and waffles, we both decided to keep it simple and go with that. Several variations of the combo are available, with varying numbers of chicken pieces and waffles. I ordered the “Carol C. Special”, which consisted of 1 chicken breast and 1 waffle. My wife ordered the “Obama Special”, or 3 wings and a waffle. (The president himself apparently orders this dish when he comes calling). If you’re concerned that a single waffle and piece of chicken isn’t enough food, don’t fret – it is.
So how was it? The chicken was “meh”. Not bad by any means, but when you call Texas home, fried chicken joints are a dime a dozen, and this piece wasn’t terribly special. The chicken breast had a nice skin and decent seasoning, but was a little dry. But the waffle. Oh my goodness, the waffle. Yes, it’s just a waffle, but it might have been the best waffle I’ve ever had. Roscoe’s claims to have its own “private mix” for its waffles, and while nobody knows exactly what’s in it, there was a distinct flavor of vanilla in these perfectly griddled cakes. You could seriously eat these all day. The only other thing we ordered was the orange juice. It was fresh squeezed, but tasted like it had been sitting out a little too long.
As mentioned earlier, there is plenty more on the menu if you don’t want chicken or waffles, including sandwiches, salads, omelettes, mac & cheese, and hot water cornbread. I’m not a cornbread person, but it’s supposed to be good if that’s your thing.
I was expecting this meal to drag out forever given the crowd, but the servers work hard to keep things moving efficiently (a good thing given the demand for tables). We were on our way in less than an hour. Which was a good thing, too, because we just beat a rare but heavy July rain to our car by a couple of minutes.
Rating: the waffle more than made the trip out here worth it, but I’ll go with 4 stars given the average fried chicken.