2605 Lemon Grove Avenue, Lemon Grove
If you want to know about Da Chicken Coop, there is only one question that matters: How does it stack up against Roscoe’s? Aw, stop groaning. You have to ask. There is no other metric by which chicken and waffles can be judged.
I’m happy to report that Da Chicken Coop holds its own. I dare say it’s just about as good, though I confess an eternal soft spot for the Long Beach Roscoe’s. Owner Brad Cooper, who also helms the smoker at Coop’s West Texas Barbecue, didn’t try to duplicate the Roscoe model. Instead he has his own take on the iconic dish, and it works.
Anyone familiar with Roscoe’s signature chicken might expect Da Chicken Coop to ape the light, golden, thin-skinned chicken style of the L.A. establishment, mostly because Roscoe’s chicken is damn fine. But Coop’s chicken boasts a thicker, crunchier breading that absorbs all the hot sauce you want to throw at it.
The waffles come out thicker and more cakelike than the soft waffles up north, but not to their detriment. More than up to the task of sopping up the industrial-grade syrup and errant drops of hot sauce, what they really want is a big pat of softened butter to take things over the top.
At this time of year, the patio (there is no indoor seating) sits in shade during the early part of the day, and it’s only about a 15-minute drive from Normal Heights to Lemon Grove when there isn’t traffic. Besides the fact that you have to set aside the rest of the day for digestion after a trip to Da Chicken Coop, I see nothing standing between it and San Diego chicken-and-waffles domination.