Chicken & waffles: they're a little bit of everything on a plate -- meaty, crunchy, savory, and sweet. If we learned anything by eating them all over Chicago, though, it's that they're never the same from one place to the next (sometimes the waffles aren't even waffles!). Here's a look at the best we had, power-ranked from 10 to 1:
The top 10 plates of chicken & waffles in Chicago, ranked
We’re still not convinced that eating a sandwich made on a waffle instead of bread is something grownups have any business doing. But this fried chicken and waffle "sandwich" was way better than we expected -- a really well balanced combination of spicy boneless chicken, cooling apple slaw, waffle, and maple syrup.
Near West Side
Some places we tried seemed to be a little skimpy on the chicken. Not this West Side breakfast hideaway, which gives you a Belgian-style waffle and THREE big pieces of buttermilk-brined, extra-crispy chicken (which scatters flaky fried bits like snow with every bite). The chicken was a little underseasoned, but the honey mustard dipping sauce took care of that.
8. Three Chefs
You're right, those aren’t waffles -- the day we trekked to the far South Side to try this place, the waffle machine was out for repairs and we had to have our waffle in pancake form. No matter; the chicken wings were good, if a bit greasy, but the sweet potato-pecan pancakes were great, and the waitress ensured a return trip by saying magic words we’d never heard before -- "peach cobbler waffles".
Of course this epitome of Logan Square hipsterdom has chicken & waffles. It incliudes a couple of excellent pieces of buttermilk-brined Slagel Farms chicken, served on a waffle that might seem a little skimpy -- if it didn’t also come with a serving of sweet potato pork belly hash. Of course.
Yeah, you’re right, those aren’t waffles either -- they’re big, doughy fritters made of waffle batter, which fit right into the personality of this cute, chill neighborhood spot. The chicken was tasty even if just a smidge on the dry side (though the Harold’s-like sweet-hot sauce helps), but the whole place is just so darned lovable.
Bronzeville, Evanston, Oak Park
Reportedly one of Rahm Emanuel’s favorite restaurants, the Bronzeville location of this local chain is a see-and-be-seen Sunday morning spot for the South Side. The chicken is good, the waffles are thin and soft, Waffle House-style, and the secret is to actually order your chicken separately, smothered under the terrific onion gravy.
A unique restaurant for Lincoln Park, Batter & Berries does the wackiest version we’ve seen -- the sweet potato waffles are stuffed with bits of chicken (a little dry, frankly) and are accompanied by a scarfable boneless chicken breast in a sweet-hot sauce. It’s just crazy enough to work!
Near North Side
You know chicken & waffles have made the big time when they turn up at a posh Downtown spot like this hotel cocktail bar and restaurant. The buttermilk-brined chicken and perfect little round waffles are terrific, while the secret weapon is the dark, rich Burton’s maple syrup from Indiana.
Greater Grand Crossing
Not that there’s anything wrong with the waffle at this friendly, homey South Side breakfast spot --but it's just kind of a throw-in with the well seasoned, gorgeously crispy chicken, which wowed us to the point that it could be a new contender for best fried chicken in town, too. Extra bonus: the only place we found where your chicken &waffles can come with a side of grits.
Lincoln Square’s underrated farm-to-table restaurant is a dark horse winner for one big reason: doing every single component of chicken & waffles better. The chicken, brined in black tea, ginger, and thyme (!), is fantastic, like having fried chicken and chicken soup at the same time; the waffle, made with malt flour, is light as a cloud; the syrup is Burton’s; and did we mention that it comes with a side of maple pecan-crusted bacon? Yes, BACON. Genius.
1. Wafel217 N Clinton St, Chicago
2. Breakfast House1800 W Grand Ave, Chicago
3. Three Chefs Restaurant8125 S Halsted St, Chicago
4. Longman & Eagle2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago
5. Grandma Js Local Kitchen1552 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago
6. Chicago's Home Of Chicken & Waffles3947 S King Dr, Chicago
7. Batter & Berries2748 N Lincoln, Chicago
8. Sable505 N State, Chicago
9. 5 Loaves Eatery405 E 75th St, Chicago
10. Fork4600 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
Wafel's got, uh, waffles, and they're serving 'em up stuffed with things like honey-glazed chicken, BBQ salmon gravlax, and many more creative fillings in West Loop.
This West Side breakfast hideaway is one of the best spots in the city for breakfast (duh), as well as chicken and waffles, which comes with big pieces of buttermilk-brined, extra-crispy chicken (which scatters flaky fried bits like snow with every bite) with a Belgian-style waffle.
This Auburn Gresham joint serves some of the best food in the city, including some awesome chicken & waffles.
Longman & Eagle has got it going on. The Logan Square restaurant-slash-bar-slash-B&B is a Michelin-starred destination for upscale American fare, craft beers, small-batch wine, and serious whiskey options (there are over 300 varieties). Nearly half of the menu is under $20, including the signature wild boar sloppy joe, which makes the gastropub a no-brainer for quality and value. Longman has a tiny upstairs inn with six furnished rooms, but be prepared for a loud night given the downstairs bar is open until 3am on weekends.
This funky brunch spot has an appropriately vintage feel, eclectic antiques, a ceiling tiled with old tablecloths, and some damn good food: shrimp and grits, monte cristo, and chicken and waffle fritters. Oh, did we mention you can BYOB? Lunch is also served.
The South Side locale of this Chicago hotspot is doling out just-as-delicious Southern breakfast foods at all hours -- head here on a drive home and get the mac and cheese.
While they aren't serving deep-fried Cap'n Crunch spinoffs, Batter & Berries is still willing to fatten up your morning meals within its perky, 68-seat nook, where framed floral art hangs on lemon walls, and the mosaic-laden tables were crafted by the owners themselves, though choosing which one to sit at will only be the start of your waffling.
Sable's a 153-seat dark-hued, brightly lit, open-kitchened dining room and lounge whose haute cuisine-meets-comfort menu is designed to marry with a cocktail program crafted by a Violet Hour alum, who can in turn help you graduate beyond your usual schnapps and soda.
Start with great fried chicken and, you know, what waffle? Not that there’s anything wrong with the waffle at this friendly, homey South Side breakfast spot. It's just that we were so wowed by the well-seasoned, gorgeously crispy chicken, which could be a new contender for best fried chicken in town, too. Extra bonus: your chicken and waffles can come with a side of grits.
Lincoln Square’s farm-to-table restaurant is a jaw-unhinging “showstopper” destination. Whether you're joining them for a brunch filled with fantastic chicken and waffles, "brunch-ready monster," which features a 1lb prime beef patty poised atop a Belgian waffle "bun" and smothered in cheddar and Swiss, or just popping by to enjoy something from their impressive wine and beer lists, you'll feel like a winner.