Location: Cartlandia – 8145 SE 82nd Ave.
Hours: Mon 4pm – 7pm, Tues – Sat 11am – 8pm
The Story: What’s up with chicken and waffles? You got your crispy, juicy fried chicken on top of a stack of old-school dinner plate sized waffles, smothered in syrup if you wish. Salty, meaty, crunchy and savory combined with soft waffles and a touch of sweet. It’s the kind of food keeping cardiologists in business, but is one of those oh-so-sinful foods people seem to crave time and time again. Welcome to The Coop Chicken and Waffles cart.
The origins of C&W (that’s in the know slang for Chicken & Waffles, yo), are a bit of a true American mystery hybrid dish. Many people think the dish is Southern, but you rarely see it in several Southern states and communities, and it does not appear in Southern cookbooks from the 1800s to 1930s at all. Some claim it goes back to Thomas Jefferson who brought the first “Gaufres” (waffles) iron back from France and then combined waffles with Virginia fried chicken at dinner. Other culinary historians believe it might have come out of Southern slave kitchens but really took off during the “great migration” of African Americans from the South to the industrialized North after the Civil War, where it remained in the African American community and later adopted by working class whites in roadside diners and other down home type establishments. In the 1980s C&W had their mainstream debut in the cult film Tapeheads, where John Cusak’s character creates a music video commercial for the very real L.A. based Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. The Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles video always cracks me up.
Whatever the origins or myths of C&W, The Coop Chicken and Waffles at the popular Cartlandia food cart pod gets it right. We love a cart with a simple, tight menu that specializes in just one or two dishes and perfects them. At The Coop, you get a choice of two cuts – chicken wings and breasts, in combinations of one or two waffles. Clever names accompany the options: “The Uncle B”: two waffles and one breast, or the “The Bird”: one wing and one waffle, and so on. You get your choice of waffle types as well: Buttermilk, Bacon, or Cornbread.
We opted for biggest menu item (no judgement, it was shared between three people), “The Swaggy” – one breast, two wings, and two waffles, smothered in sweet syrup on a Buttermilk and a Bacon Waffle. Whew-boy, didn’t eat for the rest of the day after that. It was FILLING. But you know, it really was also pretty darn perfect.
People who know me, know I’m a fanatic (ok, snob) about fried chicken. Blame it on my North Carolina “Mee-Maw” (that’s a Southern term for grandma) who made the best fried chicken (non-debatable) South of the Mason-Dixon line. Once you’ve had freshly prepared, honest to god, REAL friend chicken with a no B.S. crackly crust, made with a quality, tender bird, you can’t go back to that fast food heat-lamped nonsense. I’m happy to report The Coop makes their chicken with care: Big cuts of meat (no teeny tiny wings here), rolled in lightly seasoned and spiced flour, then fried to order – the fried chicken comes out perfectly non-greasy, crispy -tender and super juicy on the inside. Ain’t no overcooked dried meat and soggy crust at The Coop! The order may take a bit longer than dining at other carts, but the fresh-fried quality makes it worth the wait. This is good stuff. The waffles are also the way I like them – plate sized, small holed, a thin golden crust and melt-in your mouth interior.
Leonardo di Vinci said it best, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” The Coop might be basic, their dish of Chicken and Waffles true simple down-home food, but man is it sure good.
- Choice of Buttermilk, Cornbread, or Bacon Waffle
- The Bird – one wing, one waffle – $5
- The Uncle B – one breast, two waffles – $7
- The Swaggy – one breast, two wings, two waffles – $12
- Various soft drinks – prices vary
Website: The Coop Chicken and Waffles