Chicken and waffles is a ridiculously decadent pairing that’s hard to come by in Seattle. There’s a simple explanation for this. Chicken and waffles is a dish born with its iron firmly plugged into the South, with African-Americans in the South in particular. Seattle is neither in the South nor does it have a particularly large African-American population. And while the Kingfish and Captain Black’s are to be commended for their hipster-gourmet takes on the heartland classic, if it’s dark-meat authenticity you seek, chicken and waffles can become something of a do-it-yourself affair— and Skyway Park Bowl & Casino is as good a place as any to apply that ethos.
Located just south of the Seattle city limits, Skyway Park was among the first Vegas-style mini-casinos licensed by the state in the late ’90s—meaning that when it comes to playing poker and blackjack, it’s as close as you’ll get to Sin City without crossing tribal boundaries. But while Vegas’ temporary attempt to brand itself as a family-friendly Disneyland-with-slots always rang rather hollow, in Skyway—as genuinely diverse a neighborhood as there is in the area—it rings a little truer. With several restaurants, a dart and billiards room, a lounge with a lively Saturday-night karaoke scene, bowling lanes often packed with league bowlers of all ages, and of course an Asian-themed casino, the facility is like a PG-13 community center, its dining room an entirely suitable hangout for adolescent exposure.
To successfully make the DIY C&W happen in Skyway’s diner—curiously festooned with kitschy portraits of Italy—arrive around 11:45 a.m., as they unplug the waffle iron promptly at noon. Next, order an unadorned (save for maple syrup and butter) waffle and a fried-chicken basket. Only the most committed belt-busters will tackle the fries that come with that basket; do yourself a favor and save them for later—the consumption of both fried chicken and waffles will make you feel like enough of a lard-ass as is. (And if it doesn’t, you’d better be hitting the gym harder than Madonna if you want to stay off the fat farm.)
The waffle half of the dish was heavenly—all fluffy, syrupy, buttery comfort. The chicken, meanwhile, was merely serviceable, which got me thinking about the fact that there’s an Ezell’s a couple hundred yards from the casino entrance. It’s no stretch to say that if you don’t mind taking your C&W to go from separate locations, the mouth of the South might start seeming a whole lot closer than it actually is.