Obligatory Roscoe’s Lunch: Dissecting the Toughest Lunch Menu in Los Angeles


A few days ago the President visited Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles on Pico, and as excited I was to see him getting his fried chicken and waffle on at one of L.A.’s food institutions, I was pretty disappointed in his order.  The Country Boy: 3 wings w/ your choice of a waffle, potato salad or fries (though one only assumes that waffle is chosen 100% of the time.)  I can be disappointed because this was actually my go-to order at Roscoe’s for my first I don’t know how many visits.  The appeal is obvious.  At $8.90 it’s one of the cheaper chicken and waffle combos available, and one cannot downplay the mental importance of getting 3 pieces of chicken instead of 1 or 2 (even though they are the smallest pieces you can get.)  There’s only one problem.  The chicken wings at Roscoe’s are terrible… and this is speaking as somebody who loves fried chicken wings.  If you have been to Roscoe’s and only had their chicken wings, you cannot judge Roscoe’s.  I don’t know if it’s the shorter cooking time, or what, but the wings at Roscoe’s just don’t taste as good as the other 3 pieces of chicken. And it’s not just the actual chicken itself.  It’s the crust too.  The crust on the wings isn’t as salty and peppery and just plain delicious as the other pieces of chicken.

Don’t believe me?  Do the side by side taste test, and you’ll be convinced.  I’ve wasted two meals on chicken wings just to prove my thesis, and I will not make that mistake again.  But if only my obsessive Roscoe’s menu dissection ended there…

I started eating at Roscoe’s long before I started Midtown Lunch, but even pre-blogging I was obsessed with keeping lunch cheap. And when it comes to scoring a lunch for under $10, no menu is more complex, more difficult to process than Roscoe’s.

With 30 combos you would think it’d be easy to choose what to order at Roscoe’s, but it’s not.  Every item on the menu can be divided into four different categories: Southern breakfast stuff (eggs, sausage, grits, etc), Southern lunch and dinner stuff (collard greens, biscuits, mac & cheese, yams, etc) and of course you’ve got your chicken and your waffles, which are each in their own separate category. The problem is combos only will give you stuff from two categories.  You can get chicken and waffles (obviously), or breakast w/ waffles.  Or chicken with lunch/dinner sides. Or even chicken with breakfast stuff.   But let’s say you want chicken, waffles and an egg.  No dice.  Or chicken and waffles with mac and cheese and collard greens.  Once again… no dice- unless of course you choose a combo and then add things ala carte.  The problem is most of the combos are already close to or over $10.  You start adding ala carte items and your lunch ends up being $15-20.

For example… the ala carte waffle is a whopping $4.60.  So forget about adding that to any combo, and still keeping your lunch under $10.  Eggs are only $1.80 a piece, so you could add an egg to the thigh and one waffle combo ($7.10).  But that’s probably not going to be enough food.  Bump it up to the breast and a waffle combo ($8.95) and add that egg, and you’re over $10.  Believe me, I’ve gone over every permutation. Trying to add anything to your waffle and chicken combo will take you over $10.

So… at Roscoe’s I’ve resigned myself to just eating chicken and waffles, which is fine because at Roscoe’s those two things are about as close to a must order as you are going to find at any restaurant anywhere.  There are better waffles at other places.  And some will argue there is better fried chicken at other places.  But better fried chicken and waffles, you will not find.  3 wings and a waffle for $8.90 sounds tempting, but trust me.  You don’t want to go down that road.

Over many trips to Roscoe’s I’ve determined that the thigh is by far the best piece of chicken at Roscoe’s.  Some will argue it’s the best piece of chicken period, but at Roscoe’s it’s even better than that. Even for those of you who think that you like white meat better, I was you many years ago.  And then I ate a fried chicken thigh at Roscoe’s.  Seriously,  put the breast down and come over to the dark side.  You will not regret it.  With that in mind… here is the best order at Roscoe’s for under $10.


The #18.  Thigh and a waffle for $7.10, and add a second thigh ($2.60).  At many fried chicken spots, two thighs wouldn’t be enough, but at Roscoe’s it’s a feast.  Their thighs are huge.  You might be thinking “Zach.  Isn’t that photo a thigh and a wing?”  Yup.  Yesterday’s lunch was for science.  And for you people. But never again.  When I finished eating, all I wanted was another few bites of delicious, delicious thigh.

If one waffle isn’t enough for you, or you need more chicken there is a way for you to solve that problem for just $1 more.  It goes over my $10 limit, but the deal is so good I feel ok about endorsing it.  Scoe’s Special is probably one of the most popular orders at Roscoe’s (1/4 chicken with 2 waffles for $10.70), but I’ve always thought it was for suckers.  One waffle is enough as far as I’m concerned, and I’d rather have two thighs than a thigh and a leg, or a wing and breast.  But yesterday I discovered that they will let you mix and match the dark and white meat.  What does that mean?  It means if you want a thigh and a breast with your two waffles, they’ll do it.  And the price is still $10.70!!!


That means for just $1 more than my two thigh and a waffle combo (for $9.70) you can get a thigh and a breast (the two largest pieces of chicken possible at Roscoe’s) plus two waffles instead one.  And if they do a breast and a thigh, I’m guessing they’ll let you do two thighs… meaning that you’d only be paying $1 for an entire extra waffle (regular price $4.60).  Now that’s a splurge I can get behind… and one the President might consider on his next visit.

Have you got a better strategy for attacking Roscoe’s? Let me know about it in the comments. Actually, scratch that. Maybe I shouldn’t be thinking about this anymore.

Yes, I am a crazy person.

Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles (Multiple Locations)

  • 1514 North Gower Street, Hollywood. 323-466-7453
  • 5006 West Pico Boulevard, Mid City. 323-934-4405
  • 106 Manchester Blvd, 323-752-6211
  • 830 North Lake Ave, Pasadena. 626-791-4890
  • 621 W. Manchester Blvd., LAX. 310-981-4141
  • 730 East Broadway, Long Beach. 562-437-8355



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    Finally there is a definitive guide to spending under $10 at Roscoes. I’ll be sure to put down the breast & go to the dark side soon.

  • Brilliant piece. Ranks up there with the “beat the by-the-pound salad bar” analysis of yore.

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    I also ate at Roscoes this week and I can add to Zach’s assessment of the dark meat. The thighs were great! 2 thighs and an order of potato salad (for the potato salad lovers) is a great Midtown lunch. Thanks Zach for the suggestion

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