Whether it’s by a Michelin star or public acclaim, it’s no secret that New York City is highly rated as a culinary hot spot—chicken and waffles included. Get yourself a MetroCard, hop on the subway, and eat your way through NYC. As the perfect pairing of sweet and savory, soul-food-inspired chicken and waffles are an ode to American Blackness. And the beauty of this dish is that it’s a viable option for a meal at any time of the day. So get your map out and get your taste buds ready, because these five restaurants do it best.
113 W 116th St
Enter Amy Ruth’s in Harlem and be surrounded by murals of Black American icons, from the Tuskegee Airmen to Beyoncé. It’s been almost 20 years since Amy Ruth’s set up shop as the go-to Southern cuisine spot, and the chicken and waffles—also known as the Rev. Al Sharpton—are still a must-try. It’s a fine balancing act to pair chicken and waffles so that one doesn’t outshine the other, and the people over at Amy Ruth’s have gotten this down to an art. Head chef Jannette Robinson will tell you that the food at Amy Ruth’s is made from scratch and with heaping amounts of love. You don’t have to question the soul of this soul food. If you’re an early bird and in upper Manhattan, the restaurant opens at 7 a.m. and is a perfect breakfast option.
164 Bedford Ave
178 Ludlow St
341 Flatbush Ave
Listen: Sweet Chick lives up to its hype. And with rapper Nas as one of its co-owners, the restaurant seamlessly blends hip-hop and comfort food. Since they don’t take reservations, this isn’t your average “stroll in when you’re hungry and expect a table immediately” type of restaurant; it’s more on the “make sure you’re already giving the hostess your name 20 minutes before you’re hungry” side. Once you’re in, open the menu and make a decision on either the classic chicken and waffles or one of their specialties. With each bite, the waffle almost melts in your mouth. My favorite specialty waffle is the rosemary- and mushroom-infused waffle; the mushrooms don’t overwhelm the waffle, but add even more savory deliciousness to the meal. They also offer vegetarian fried chicken, so your non-meat-eating friends can also partake in the collective foodgasm.
509 Myrtle Ave
Chocolate lovers, rejoice. SoCo’s waffle of choice is an indulgent red velvet waffle. The red velvet waffle is cakier than it is crisp, which makes it perfectly pair with the crunchy buttermilk fried chicken. SoCo is a little out of the way and only serviced by the G train in Clinton Hill, and getting there is a bit of a trek by NYC standards, but it’s well worth it. Self-described as a Southern fusion restaurant, SoCo is part cocktail bar and part food haven. You should also try the mac and cheese; you can thank me later. The restaurant is also a great option for groups, so when everyone else is still figuring out what they want to eat, you’ve already got your finger pointed at the fried chicken with red velvet waffle.
Pies ‘n’ Thighs
166 S 4th St
Pies ‘n’ Thighs, on the corner of South Fourth Street and Driggs Avenue, joined New York’s food scene in 2006, when hipster Williamsburg was still in its infancy. They soon gained notable mentions for their pies, fried chicken, and doughnuts. But seriously, their chicken and waffles are also noteworthy. The fried chicken, atop two square-shaped buckwheat waffles with cinnamon butter and glazed strawberry, holds its own weight. If you have extra room, any pie for dessert is the way to go. Also, expect a wait if you go during peak times, but the good news is that they open at 9 a.m., a respectable time for those craving chicken and waffles for breakfast.
Root & Bone
200 E 3rd St
Opened in 2014 by two Top Chef alums, Root & Bone is the newcomer on the block. When you look at the menu, you won’t exactly see an option for chicken and waffles. Root & Bone has a new take on Southern food—you’ll see options for servings of pears and gorgonzola and short-rib meatloaf, but don’t get distracted. Ask the server about the chicken and waffle offerings and you’ll be given two choices: sandwich or classic. Choose the classic, which comes with four cheese-topped buckwheat mini waffles and either a half or full bird. Root & Bone is small, intimate, and perfect for a date night, so get a full bird with two sides of waffles and split this dish with your date.