Absolutely no late night/24-hour, fast-food drive thru is inviting. Just when you think there's no hope left. Seemingly everything is cured by just one whiff of a cascade of aromas hitting your nose.
This savory golden smell carries you off your feet as you glide past the world-famous Cinerama Dome, Pantages Theatre and Nickelodeon Studios on Sunset. The next image your eyes have set upon is that of a cartoon chicken. No, this isn't a dream. A feast of fried chicken and buttery waffles is yours for the ordering. Welcome to Roscoe's.
Strange as this may sound, the late night eatery was not founded by a man named Roscoe, but rather by a man named Herb Hudson. A Harlem native, Hudson was a businessman and entrepreneur. When he moved to Los in the mid-1970s to make it as a restaurateur, Hudson saw three trouble spots facing L.A. diners: the only restaurants in Hollywood were found in hotels, there were no all-night or late-night restaurants and most importantly, there were no chicken and waffles on any L.A. menu!
Fueled to eliminate each problem, Hudson established Roscoe's House of Chicken 'N Waffles in 1976. Dining in Los Angeles would never be the same. Five restaurants of the hollowed name now stand with over 175 employees working the kitchen to the main hall.
Known nationally and internationally, Roscoe's is referenced on TV, in advertisements and on film – a comedy of the same name (anything else would just be wrong) was released in 2004. After 30 years, Angelinos still line-up outside the door, clamoring for a heavy dose of southern fried specialties.
Holy cholesterol! L.A. prides itself on being on the cusp of health conscientiousness; nutrition is tops, wheat grass mantras 24/7. But at Roscoe's, there will be no wheat grass on the menu (thank god!) and if it was, you'd find it battered, deep fried and served on a mound of gravy drenched house fries.
Come to Roscoe's for a little bit of soul food like giblets and rice with gravy and onions, gooey macaroni and cheese capped with a fluffy biscuit or piece of cornbread. But, don't you go to the amusement park to ride the roller coasters and not mingle in the gift shop? You have to try the chicken and waffles.
Chicken and waffles is culinary yin and yang. Two opposite but complimentary products destined to expand stomachs and loosen belts. Newbies at Roscoe's should stick to the Scoe's special. Get a quarter or half depending on how much you can muster; white or dark depends upon how juicy you like it. White meat at Roscoe's is moist but dark is moist , the clear sheen of juice sprouts out of the tender meat with just a flick of your fork.
The skin is an amalgam unto itself; equal parts golden crispness and sheer salty heaven. This crust is a delicacy alone. Bar none, Roscoe's is the best fried chicken in Los Angeles.
While its fluffy cohort doesn't receive the same acclaim, the waffle is still a serviceable companion upon your taste palette. A waffle is a waffle anywhere you go and Roscoe's is no exception. Slightly sweet, the dual waffles served to each patron can be a little bit dry, so use your two scoops of butter and cup of syrup wisely.
And, if you so happen to enjoy the taste of salty fried chicken skin upon a dollop of maple syrup, by all means please enjoy. Just be mindful of those arteries of yours.
So, potential hangover … cured. Now you'll just need someone to help carry you to your car.
Roscoe's House of Chicken 'N Waffles has five locations in the Southern California area: Hollywood, West Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Pasadena and Long Beach. For more information, visit www.roscoeschickenandwaffles.com.