On Tuesday night my parents tooks us out for a farewell meal at my Dad's favorite LA spot. He comes to visit us less than my mom, usually about once a year, and doesn't care about seeing much...but he always insists on a meal at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. And while he prefers the Hollywood location, we had a great meal at the Pasadena location on Lake Ave. this past visit. There were eight (and a half) of us: My mom and Dad, their friends Ted and Judy (with whom they left for China with immediately following our meal at Roscoe's), Steve, me and Mr. Rider (officially 18 months old now), and Steve's two buddies. Now I want to preface the following review with the information that we were there at 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday and while they were busy, it was not the normal slam you can expect at Roscoes at 8pm on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. I will also say that Roscoe's has been one of my favorite places to eat (and take out) since I moved to LA in 1998. And my last disclaimer is that I may be slightly biased toward soul fod in general growing up with two parents from Tennessee... but in any case, here's the rundown:
Locations: We went to the one on Lake Ave in Pasadena, but other locations are Long Beach, Hollywood (on Gower) and Mid Cityish (on Pico).
Parking: Pasadena and Pico locations have lots, expect to pay to park for the Hollywood location. Not sure about LB
Menu: Don't expect to eat healthy. This is the real, deal Southern soul food. Vegetarians beware, most likely the good majority of their vegetables are even cooked in bacon grease:)
Food: I always get the #13 ("1 succulent breat, 1 delicious waffle) and about 1/2 of it is enough for me (of course, I always get a side of collard greens (perfectly cooked and seasoned at Roscoes with just a little heat. My 18 month old loved the collard greens during this last trip to Roscoe's!) to go along with it. The Scoe's special is also a good classic way to get both chicken and waffles, but is a little bit more food (man size meal). Some people say you are supposed to eat the chicken and waffles together. Now I love sweet/savory combos and I certainly don't mind if a little syrup gets on my chicken or some chicken crumbs fall on my waffle, but I don't eat them together. That's dealers choice. I also get the mac and cheese for the kid, but its so darn good I usually end up "tasting" that a few time as well. My dad LOVES the chicken livers at Roscoes but beware that one order of them is HUGE. If you like chicken livers, these are some of the best-hot and crispy. You can go gravy (Roscoes brown gravy is awesome and so thick you can almost eat it with a fork) or no gravy, but here is a piece of good advice. No matter what you order, if you want gravy on it...get it on the side and let that chicken stay crispy till it gets to your table. If you want the best of both worlds, the "da dip" and get crispy chicken and thick, delicuious gravy all in one bite. A lst thing not to miss at Roscoe's at the grits...good as side to anything. You'll know the food is authentic southern just by looking at it, but to confirm that Roscoe's really knows what the South is all about- order an iced tea. The natural question you'll be asked (as in any good southern restaurant): "sweet or not sweet".
Service: Is usually damn good here. You may have to wait (on hour or more on a weekend), but once you sit down, you'll get good friendly service and you're food will come out quick and piping hot. At the pasadena location, they even asked us if we wanted to sample any of the sides before we ordered them. This is great when you have a hungry kid with you. That few bites of mac and cheese held Rider over while we ordered and waited for the food to come. At the Pico location, they used to have this one waitress named Big Momma who was a total LA legend. I hope shes still there becuase she really is the best. Remember folks, food service people work hard, so tip them well no matter what and tip them extra generously if they do an outstanding job. The standard now is 18-20%.
Price: There's no bar at Roscoe's (domestic beer and Heineken are available) so you don't have to worry about your tab running too high here. Expect 15$ per person (grown up person). There's no "kids menu", but sides are enough for a kid of most sizes. Overall a good value for the money.
Keep in mind: The locations vary in size but almost all of them are packed pretty tight. They have high chairs and are certainly kid friendy but between the usual wait time and the close quarters, it may be a good idea to pick up take out if you have multiple children. This is a staple take out place for me, especially when I'm having guests over- it pretty much a sure fire hit every time.
Rider did great at Tuesday night's dinner, depsite being a bit under the weather. He loved his freshmade lemonade (no refills on this) and his greens, mac and cheese and fried chicken. And, btw, he loved it the next day too for breakfast. I didn't try the chicken livers with him...maybe next time...
The bottom line is, kids or no kids, LA native, transplant or visitor, don't miss Roscoe's..