Extra crispy fried chicken, waffles and cheesecake at Mabel’s in DTLA
Name: Mabel’s. Underneath the name it says: Chicken, Waffles, Spectacle. We’re still unclear on the spectacle bit, but it’s painted in big letters on one of the restaurant’s walls.
Concept: Mabel’s is a tiny restaurant serving fried chicken and waffles by chef Jason Harley, near Hill Street and Olympic Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles. There’s fried chicken, waffles, coleslaw, potato salad, a house, Caesar or Cobb salad and cheesecake. In other words, they’ve got all the basic food groups covered.
FOR THE RECORD
August 3, 9:20 a.m.: An earlier version of this post said Jason Harley is the chef and owner of the restaurant. He is the chef.
What dish has you licking your fingers: Simply labeled “combo” on the menu, it comes with two pieces of white- or dark-meat fried chicken, a waffle, a syrup, a dipping sauce for the chicken, a side and a drink for $14. The chicken is golden brown, with an extra crisp coating that separates easily from the skin beneath it, and the meat is so moist, it falls off the bone. This will make it easy to strip the chicken from the bone, place it in the waffle and create a chicken and waffle burrito. If you choose to go that route.
And now for the housemade syrups and dipping sauces — otherwise known as condiments — that give this restaurant its major schmutz factor. For the waffle, a maple grove syrup, jalapeno vanilla bean syrup, classic maple syrup and roasted bacon maple syrup.
Get the roasted bacon maple syrup, which comes with bits of bacon in the syrup and tastes like a complete breakfast in every bite. For the chicken, pay extra to get the chipotle BBQ and sweet Asian chile, and alternate between dips. The BBQ is rich and smoky, and the Asian chile sauce is an addictive mix of the dried chile sauce you find at a dumpling restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley and the sweet chile that accompanies an order of Thai BBQ chicken.
What’s for dessert: The daily cheesecake. On a recent afternoon, it was New York-style cheesecake with a classic graham cracker crust and a whipped cream topping. Because the chicken takes around 20 minutes, ask for the cheesecake while you wait. There’s no shame in eating dessert first.
Who’s at the next table: Four women on a lunch break, with their sleeves rolled up, elbows out, their heads bent over containers of fried chicken.
Service: You order at the counter then wait for your number to be called. Harley will probably be behind the counter, point you in the right direction (the combo) and tell you there are secret things in his chicken, along with the buttermilk.
Info: 314 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 536-5557, www.mabelsla.com. It’s open daily from 11 a.m. until they run out of chicken.
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