You'll see plenty of fried chicken joints as you drive down Halsted on the far South Side but when you come across Blue Soul House of Chicken & Waffles in Morgan Park, you're in for a treat that satisfies breakfast, lunch and dinner.
"I have folks who come in and eat chicken and waffles for dinner with a side of macaroni or a side of greens. I also have those customers that come in early in the morning and have chicken and waffles as well as grits, cheese grits or hashbrowns," said Archie Tolar, Blue Soul House of Chicken & Waffles.
Tolar starts by marinating his giant chicken wings overnight in an egg wash with spices; he then dredges them through a seasoned flour mixture, shaking off any excess, then carefully dropping them into hot vegetable oil, where they'll fry for about ten minutes. In the meantime, he attends to a pair of hot waffle irons, pouring in a slightly thick batter, then sealing, turning, and cooking them until golden brown.
A typical order arrives with three giant wings resting on top of the thick waffle. Sides of hot sauce and maple syrup complete the picture.
Tolar says grits are a popular side dish, but so are his hashbrowns.
"Because they're Southern hand-cut potatoes and they just compliment the chicken and waffles so well," said Toplar.
Connoisseurs will point to Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles in L.A. as one of the originals and in Bronzeville, for the first few weeks initially, there was an unaffiliated Chicago's Rosscoe's, but a lawsuit forced the local owners to change their name to Chicago's Home of Chicken & Waffles. It doesn't really matter -- the lines to get in have been constant.
"Yeah it all started with Wells in Harlem. He made it popular in the early '30s and Herb Hudson made it popular, say around '74 in L.A. and it just grew, and grew and grew," said Darnell Johnson, Chicago's Home of Chicken & Waffles.
The menu is larger there. You can load up on satisfying soul favorites like mac 'n cheese, collards, yams and cornbread but the thin and delicate waffles seem to be the stars, along with the fried chicken. Johnson says more than 75 percent of the restaurant's orders are for chicken and waffles.
"Bronzeville was just the ideal location for it, but I think it was basically that it was a demand for chicken and waffles and I thought it would be great for me to bring it to Chicago," said Johnson.
One more place is worth mentioning. The Unforgettable Cafe in South Holland, where they specialize in fried chicken and sweet potato waffles. It is certainly an unforgettable dining experience.
11142 S. Halsted St.
Chicago's Home of Chicken & Waffles
3947 S. King Dr.
Unforgettable Cafe (sweet potato waffles)
16109 S. Park Ave., South Holland