Serious Eats: Drinks

Hangover Helper: Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles, Los Angeles

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[Photograph: Farley Elliott]

The discussion of what it takes to allay a hangover in Los Angeles doesn't even really begin until you mention Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles. The popular Southern California mini-chain has done more to popularize the morning-after chicken-and-waffles meal than perhaps any other establishment in America. Heck, it's right there in the name.

For years, bleary-eyed revelers have been making the push from Hollywood's club-heavy core east to Gower Street, where the original Roscoe's has sat since 1975. On weekends, the doors even remain open until 4 a.m., for those of us needing that pre-hangover post-party nosh. Otherwise, it's a Saturday morning fiasco at the Hollywood Roscoe's, and their other locations in Mid-City, Long Beach, and Pasadena are no exception. As you'd expect, most everyone edging for a table is after one thing: fried chicken and big, buttery waffles.

There are many different iterations of the classic carb and poultry combo on the Roscoe's menu, some smothered in gravy, or laid bare and grilled. But perhaps none is more revered than the #3 Herb's Special ($16.10), named for Roscoe's owner Herb Hudson. The menu mainstay is all basics: half of a chicken, Southern fried, with two large waffles. What's not to like, especially when you're trying to wash down the memories of a night spent belly-up at a bar?

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The #3 Herb's Special (the #2 comes with the aforementioned gravy & onions, and is a fool's gambit) is exactly what the previously inebriated need. The chicken is fried fresh and served hot, with crackling little bits of skin still sizzling from the oil bath. The breast is meaty and tender on the inside, with a lingering saltiness all the way through the pale white interior. However, it is the dark meat that will make the edges of your hangover fall away. A plump thigh and shapely drum offer more flavor and greater skin-to-meat ratio—start here, and you'll feel better quicker.

Eventually, you notice the waffles. Large, pale yellow disks, steaming from their time in the iron; these are the waffles you've been looking for. The batter is ambiguously referenced on the menu as a 'private mix', but there are unmistakable undertones of silky butter and plenty of cinnamon. More than just a griddled batch of everyday waffle batter, this double stack will truly begin to peel back the veil of last night's action.

Then there is the combination. That moment when chicken meets waffle meets butter meets maple syrup. With one bite, your hangover has faded from view. With two bites you are completely rejuvenated and ready to kick Saturday in the face. Eat the whole plate, and...well, you'll probably be back in bed, but for very different reasons.

One stacked forkful of the #3 Herb's Special is a savory, sweet, crunchy, salty, starchy delight that will send any hangover you had back into the bar rag it came from. And it's been that way since 1975, when Herb Hudson first opened Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles, right there on Gower Street. In Los Angeles, this is where the hangover helpers truly began.

Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles

1514 North Gower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (map)
323-466-7453; bovolorestaurant.com

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