Eggs Benedict. Omelets. Frittatas. Steak and eggs. Crepes. Breakfast potatoes. Brunch casseroles. Muffins. Smoked salmon. You can find these on almost every brunch menu. They’re mainstream brunch foods, and for good reason —something needs to soak up the mimosas and Bloody Marys you’re pounding as either hair of the dog or just for Sunday funday. But there’s one brunch food that doesn’t get near the love it should, and that is chicken and waffles.
Chicken and waffles is a perfect brunch dish. The fried chicken is protein-filled on the inside and greasy and salty on the outside. The waffles are fluffy and filling smothered in buttery goodness. Finally, there’s the maple syrup, which can either be plain maple syrup or syrup mixed with a tiny bit of hot sauce. Don’t knock the latter until you have tried it. The combination of the sweet, hot, salty, and fatty flavors blend surprisingly perfectly, and the grease and filler appropriately soak up bottomless mimosas.
More importantly, chicken and waffles is one of the few brunch dishes that are uniquely American in origin. Frittatas, French toast, muffins, omelets, breakfast potatoes, crepes, and smoked salmon are generally of European origin, although smoked salmon on bagels is a uniquely American twist. No one can really stake a claim on steak and eggs (pun intended) but there are few things more American than ordering a plate full of cholesterol. But I digress, fried chicken on a waffle is as American as apple pie, and is absolutely delicious. It started to become more mainstream in 1975 when Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles was founded in Hollywood by Harlem native Herb Hudson, and now can be found on more and more menus around the country. However, it has not yet become a brunch staple, and it’s time for that to change.
It’s still better to get it at places that specialize in it, like South City Kitchen in Atlanta, Roscoe’s in Los Angeles, or Sweet Chick in New York City. But comfort food is a natural addition to any brunch menu, and it’s time the brunch community gets fully on board with chicken and waffles being a mainstream brunch food rather than a specialty. Even my favorite brunch place in Atlanta does not serve it, but they do serve fried chicken. All you need is a damn waffle and some syrup. It shouldn’t have to be a specialty. It’s a no brainer.
If it’s up to our generation to fix this country, it’s up to us to not only restore the broken things to greatness, but to make great things even greater. Brunch in America is great, but we can make it better by adding uniquely American fare to our brunch menus and not letting trendy hipsters steal it and keep it for themselves. It’s greater than that. It’s more American than that. It belongs on every menu of every brunch place in every city in America, and I’d even like to lobby Chick Fil A to add a chicken and waffles sandwich to its breakfast menu so we can have it during the week, too. This is the America our children deserve. .