MONDAY MUNCHIES | Getting high at LA’s Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles

Justin Caffier
Mar 9, 2020

Every city has its iconic dishes — meals that exemplify its unique spirit and distinct character. These dishes are great in and of themselves but that doesn’t mean your dining experience can’t be enhanced with a side treat.

This week’s Monday Munchies take us to a spot that, while not the progenitor of the pairing, has a name that’s synonymous with chicken and waffles: Roscoe’s. Founded in 1975 by Herb Hudson, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles has since expanded from its Long Beach flagship location to seven other locations around SoCal and cemented itself as a culinary and cultural institution in the process.

Beloved by Snoop Dogg and myriad other rappers, as well as shouted out in shows like Workaholics and movies like Jackie Brown, it’s no stretch to say that Roscoe’s and cannabis have enjoyed a long, unspoken relationship over the decades. For my visit, I was less concerned with disguising my highness than dialing in on the proper method of achieving it.

There are a handful of similar coop and stroop pairings on the Roscoe’s menu, but the prevailing theory on how to experience the best of both worlds is to order the #9 a.k.a. Obama’s Special. I wanted to keep things simple, so, prior to my arrival, I pre-gamed with a vape from Heavy Hitters —Malibu OG, which felt geographically appropriate.

I walked into an empty restaurant at Roscoe’s Hollywood location and was given a two-top in a corner. I don’t know if it was the weed or dearth of customers, but no sooner had I put in my order (plus and extra waffle because I’m fancy) than my server was on her way back over with a heaping plate of food. Seriously, I think it got to me in under five minutes.

After slathering butter into every nook and cranny of my waffles and dousing them and the chicken in maple syrup and hot sauce respectively, I took my first bite and let my senses flood with protein and breakfast bread flavors.

While I hazily wolfed down my meal at an embarrassingly fast pace, I took in the unpretentious decor around me and thought about all the people over the years who must’ve had a stoney sojourn like mine and Roscoe’s place in chicken and waffle history.

All across LA, scores of fancy brunch spots have attempted their own spin on this sweet and savory pairing. For $20, the server will bring out a perfectly fried, iPad-sized slab of chicken meticulously posed upon a phonebook-thick Belgian waffle. While nobody in their right mind would call them “bad,” these bougie efforts simply can’t hold a candle to Roscoe’s artlessly plated thin waffles and small wings. They don’t need to peacock with size or presentation. When you’ve got as much history and flavor crammed into every cubic millimeter of star product, you needn’t bother with literal and figurative fluff.

Or maybe I was just high and overthinking it.

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