The saying goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover."
When it comes to food that idea should remain the same -- unless, you're in danger of food poisoning obviously. Some of the best dishes are comprised of the weirdest mix of food items: croissant/doughnut hybrids, arepa-burgers, breakfast pizza, you get the gist.
And while we eagerly sink our teeth into a ramen-burger or maple bacon doughnut, when it comes to strange-sounding pairings, one item remains supreme: chicken and waffles.
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Yeah, it sounds weird. But who doesn't like fried chicken (aside from vegans and chickens)? And waffles: the best thing the Belgians have ever made -- let's just forget about the beer and fries for a sec.
While the exact origin of the chicken and waffle combination is unclear (some sources claim it came about after Thomas Jefferson purchased a waffle iron from France), the dish became popularized in 1930's Harlem, with the opening of late-night hotspot Wells Supper Club. Jazz musicians like Sammy Davis Jr. and Nat King Cole would stop by for the dinner/breakfast half-breed after gigs in the area.
Chicken 'n waffles popularity skyrocketed from there. Now, one would be hard-pressed to find a gastropub or trendy eatery not offering the dish.
Even so, not all chicken and waffles are created equal. Some are mind-blowing. Others, consist of greasy, soggy, mush on a plate.
Rather than waste your calorie count on a dish that's so-so, here are the ten best chicken 'n waffles in Broward and Palm Beach.
10. Burt & Max's
When it comes to pure perfection, there's no need to mess with tradition. This place serves a classic rendition of the dish. Burt & Max's southern fried chicken and waffles ($19) is a heaping plate full of crisp and succulent fried chicken served atop a fluffy buttermilk waffle, with hot sauce and maple syrup on the side. While it's easy to catch a craving for this monster any time of day, it's only offered during brunch and after 5 p.m. Probably better, because you'll need a recovery nap when you leave.
9. ROK: BRGR
As much as we love chicken and waffles, there are times when we'd like to avoid the ensuing food coma. This downtown Fort Lauderdale gastropub may be best known for its namesake burgers, but it's chicken & waffles ($15) is where it's at. In small plate form, three mini waffles are topped with crunchy pieces of boneless fried chicken and decadent candied bacon. The whole thing is then dusted with powdered sugar and served with a side of bourbon maple syrup. Indulgent and utterly delicious, it's ideal for dividing among friends -- or possibly inhaling yourself, if you feel so inclined.
Although southern food has been around for centuries, it recently became the new "in" thing. Opened last year, this Davie spot offers trendy new takes on age-old recipes. The chicken and waffles ($16) is a perfect example of the fare at the place. Instead of the conventional fried whole chicken smothered in syrup, juicy (and crunchy) boneless chicken thighs sit atop airy waffle sections placed artistically on a chic wooden board. Homemade marshmallow sage sauce is drizzled across the plate for sweetness and house-made hot sauce is served on the side. The result is a combination that's sweet, savory, slightly earthy, and as spicy as you please.
Chicken 'n waffles is kind of a middle ground, not quite dinner, not really breakfast. While's it's freaking amazing, it's a no man's land in terms of meal designations. This Las Olas spot gives it a unique first meal of the day twist. Every Sunday morning, the chefs at Johnny V's coats its chicken in a layer of Captain Crunch crust, throws it in the fryer, and sticks it on a classic waffle with some good ole maple syrup. To keep it on the healthy side, it's served with a side of melon and berries. Because breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Some things should never change. And while we agree that chicken and waffles are great in pure form, sometimes it's nice to see a change of pace. This trendy beach-side eatery, set in the base of the boutique Atlantic Resort & Spa, offers its own creative take on the centuries-old plate. It starts with the base, the waffle is made sweet potato and laced with maple syrup. Crunchy chicken is place on top and the whole thing is then sprinkled with local Florida orange blossom honey.
Delray Beach certainly has no dearth of restaurants. Even so, this place is constantly a fan favorite. Maybe, it's the laid-back vibe. Maybe, it's the farm fresh fare. Or maybe, it's the yardbird and waffles ($16) that sets this place apart from the competition. Local, free-range chicken is fried in a buttermilk batter and served on a lofty honeycombed cake. In truly simplistic form, it's presented with just a side of maple-bacon butter. With high-quality ingredients, there's no need to go crazy.
Chicken and waffles is not supposed to be a fancy dish. But like all New American cuisine, it's about new takes on simple classics. This posh beach-adjacent eatery has done just that. Executive chef Chris Miracolo worked through trial-and-error to develop his ideal rendition of the sweet and savory recipe. Offered on the Sunday brunch menu, Miracolo's version features crisp boneless chicken served on a comforting sweet potato waffle. It's then topped with bacon butter and maple syrup. It tastes like southern-style thanksgiving without the gravy -- we consider that a good thing.
Chicken and waffles is the ultimate soul food dish. So, it only makes sense that it would be damn good in a soul food specific place. For over 30 years, this Sistrunk Blvd. eatery has been serving the best southern-style fare within the confines of Broward County -- and that was once saying something big. It has racked up numerous New Times' awards, including "Best Soul Food", "Best Fried Chicken," and "Best Comfort Food." Obviously, we think it's pretty swell. And the fried chicken and waffle ($7.99) is just as good as everything else.
When it comes to "Best Restaurant" nods, we toil away debating amongst ourselves. So, when a place gets our pick, you know it's legit. This place got New Times' award for "Best Restaurant Palm Beach County - 2013." And the chicken and waffles had a lot to do with that decision. Executive chef/owner Tim Lippman blends time-honored recipes with innovative flavor combinations. Take the waffle, for instance. Lippman foregoes the simple buttermilk, filling his with cheddar and jalapenos. He then adds tender boneless Southern fried chicken, coleslaw, grilled lemon, and a stunning sweet and spicy Asian-influenced syrup. It's east meets south, or something like that. Either way, it's freaking amazing.
If you haven't surmised from the name already, this place serves one specialty, chicken 'n waffles. With all of the poultry and Belgian breakfast cakes flying out of its kitchen, you know it must be good -- it won New Times' "Best Fried Chicken - 2013." Starting at $8.95, these spots (there are now two West Palm Beach locations) serve the dish in its classic form, fresh out the fryer chicken atop a classic buttermilk waffle. But that's not all: Bay Bay's offers waffle flavors to mix it up. For an extra three bucks, try out lemon cake, cornbread, red velvet, pecan or pumpkin pie waffles. When it comes to its trademark dish (no matter the flavor), it's pretty hard to beat.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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