Diners are already flocking to Chicago’s Home of Chicken & Waffles at 2424 Dempster St. for the restaurant’s signature sweet and savory meal.
The soul food eatery held a soft opening Thursday evening and had its first full day in business on Friday. So far, the reception from Evanstonians has been “excellent,” says manager Darnell Johnson.
Johnson and his wife operate two other Chicken & Waffles restaurants in Bronzeville and Oak Park. At 5,000 square feet and with a capacity of 150 people, however, the Evanston location is the largest, Johnson says.
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Patrons enter the restaurant through a set of thick wood and glass doors decorated with curlicues of dark metal. Inside, the restaurant has an upscale, lounge-like feeling, with exposed brick walls, shining dark wood floors and low, hanging lamps that cast a warm light on diners. Two carpeted dining areas are raised from the wood walkways, and a row of expansive booths line three walls.
The restaurant’s signature dish of chicken and waffles has drawn rave reviews from local food critics dining at other locations, and comes in several different combinations. Diners can choose from dark or light meat, just wings or even fried catfish and waffles.
“It’s a great combination,” says Johnson. “It’s a fun food in the evenings, in the mornings—all day.”
Johnson says his restaurants all have their own, secret recipes for the chicken, waffles and even the syrup.
Other offerings include turkey burgers, grilled salmon and sausage, with soul food sides like red beans and rice, cornbread and grits. There’s also a full bar in the back of the restaurant.
According to Johnson, the concept of chicken and waffles was born in jazz era Harlem, when musicians coming out of a late night set didn’t know if they wanted breakfast, lunch or dinner. Chicken and waffles covered both fronts—not to mention provided that unbeatable combination of sweet and salty.
The restaurant plans to hold a grand opening and ribbon cutting at some point in the near future, but in the meantime, Johnson says, “I just want people to mosey in”—any time of day. Chicken and waffles are served all day, and the Evanston location is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday and 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.