Chicken and waffles sound like an odd combination, but the first record of this menu item is from the Supper Club in Harlem, which started serving these somewhat unlikely plate-fellows in 1938. According to legend, the club wanted to fill the bellies of lingering revelers who needed something to eat way after dinner time and hours before breakfast would normally be served.
Probably the most famous source for this double-feature dish is Roscoe’s House of Chicken n’ Waffles, which opened in Los Angeles in 1976.
In 2008. When Tonya and Darnell Johnson named their new place Rosscoes House of Chicken and Waffles (3947 S. King Drive), it didn’t take long for the L.A. restaurant with the very similar name to bring legal action that prompted a name change.
But the name on the sign is not nearly as important as the food on the plate, and this first location of Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles has been doing strong business, with lines out the doors on Sundays after church and throughout the week. Tonya Johnson told me that many of her customers are from the west coast or the south, where people already know and love this dish.
Johnson, who used to be a hair stylist in Oak Park, says she “always thought a chicken and waffles restaurant would be a good fit for the village.”
We visited the Bronzeville location last year, and have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the Oak Park branch. In the meantime, we created some homemade chicken and waffles (pictured) to tide us over: they turned out well. The richness (or, if you will, greasiness) of the fried chicken is absorbed by the waffle, and both are complemented by a sweet or even sweet-hot sauce.
If you haven’t tried this combo platter yet, give it a try. Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles is now open at 543 W. Madison.
If you’re looking for something other than fowl and a dimpled flapjack, try my personal favorite: the fried chicken livers.