amy ruth's


amy ruth's

Our first experience with 'southern food' came when we went to Harlem to try Amy Ruth's chicken and waffles.  The concept of chicken and waffles had perplexed us since hearing of Roscoe's when we were in Hollywood.  Having missed our opportunity to try it in L.A., we knew we had to give it a shot in NYC.

When we arrived the waitress sensed that we were overwhelmed by our unfamiliarity with the menu items.  Collard greens?  Cheesy grits? We didn't know where to begin. She was incredibly friendly and was able to recommend (way too much) food for the two of us.

chicken and waffles

She said that we should try the honey-dipped fried chicken (which was called 'The Reggie Harris') and regular/plain chicken and waffles, titled 'The Reverend Al Sharpton'.  It was unusual and amazing. Who would have thought these two seemingly unrelated food items would go together so well? We went with the unknown for the sides. We agreed that the collard greens tasted a bit too "bitter, or something" and had mixed feelings about the grits. Also, is corn bread supposed to taste like cake?

We enjoyed our first experience with home-style, southern cuisine, perhaps we'll check it out when we inevitably return. Any advice for us "soul food" newbies?

You Might Also Like


  1. Anonymous13.10.10

    Ok. I'm from Alabama. The "heart of dixie." And while I'm sure there are cities in the south that serve chicken and waffles, I have never, ever heard of that (besides being two completely separate meals). And no, cornbread shouldn't taste like cake. Or, no cake I've ever had!

    Suggestions: chicken & dumplins, chicken and dressing, baked macaroni & cheese, blackberry or peach cobbler, fried okra, fried green tomatoes (not my fave either, but a lot of people love them), barbecue pork sandwich, blacked eyed peas, cornbread (the REAL stuff!), hominy (not a fave of mine either), fried apples, apple butter, bread and butter pickles, fried catfish & hushpuppies, strawberry shortcake, banana pudding, sweet potato pie or casserole, butter beans, boiled peanuts...collard greens are common here, but definitely not my fave either! And you have to top it off with sweet tea!

    Wow...I know way more about southern food than I should...

  2. Amy ruths is the best place in NYC for soul food. Glad you made the right choice and dissent go to sylvias or anywhere else. I don't think it's necessarily southern as much as it is just harlem soul food. Plus, anywhere with kool aid on the menu has to be legit right?

  3. LOVE amy ruth's! everytime i'm in the NYC area I make sure to get up to harlem and have a bite. i totally agree with you - who would have thought chicken and waffles would go together?!

    i've also been to sylvia's which is another soul food joint in harlem but my besties ex (who is actually from harlem) recommended amy ruth's and that's where i've gone ever since!

  4. Hey... I'm another Alabama girl and I must say that if you ever end up in the heart of the south you have to give cheese grits another chance. I've had them in other places around the US and they just aren't the same as we make them down here.

    Love reading your blog. I thinks it's great!

  5. Soul food is my favorite food on Earth. My grandparents were from the South, so I was raised on it and can't get enough. I agree with Jenny G, those are all delicious things. But I have to add one: shrimp and grits. There's nothing better. Absolutely nothing.

  6. Anonymous13.10.10

    I'm am a black girl from Texas and reading this made me laugh. "Soul food" is such a staple in the black community but most people have no clue about it. Let me try and school you.

    I have to say that cornbread can either taste sweet or a little salty. Not both. Most like sweet and look at you crazy if it's salty. The taste of Collard greens really depends on the person making it. Reputations are lost with bad collard greens.

    Biscuits are another big thing. And catfish is HUGE is soul food. Reputations are based on how someone makes catfish.

    Also smothered chicked, smothered porkchops, or chicken fried steak are big soul food items. And lets not forget sweet corn or boiled cabbage.

    Fried chicken and waffles isn't big in Texas. It is in Caly. I believe it became big nationwide when TuPac rapped about it. But it may have been big in NY already.

    If you want good soul food it is better to stick to the south. Only hole in the wall places have the best soul food. You have to know someone who knows a place.

    As far as gourmet places that try to copy the taste, sweet georgia browns is pretty good (DC).

  7. Sounds interesting. I guess a little syrup would sound good on both so i guess they could go together.

  8. Anonymous13.10.10

    I am African American and I love soul food (obviously right). It is big in the Black community of American and most other people don't know much about it. What Rubi said about kool aid is so true. The best places always have cool aid or sweet tea on the menu. Be sure to have your toothbrush ready.

    Then there is southern food that Jenny did a great job of describing. Soul food is just a cultural spin on traditional southern cooking. Black people do it a little different (like sweet cornbread instead of salty). And love catfish, smothered chicken, boudan (louisianna), crawfish, smothered porkchops, chicken fried steak, and on some occasions chitlins.

    Also, always have the hot sauce ready.

  9. From KY, I agree with the ladies above. The best place to get southern cooking is in a diner in the south, or a southern grandmother's kitchen (doesn't have to be your southern grandma, just somebody's).

    Don't care for chicken and waffles, think that's made up. Try homemade biscuits and chocolate, banana pudding, chicken and dumplings, pone bread, etc.

  10. Yikes, I just can't imagine that tastes good, but will take your word for it. :)

  11. Jenny G - Wow! Thanks for all the suggestions. I was excited to try cornbread but was confused that it was so 'cake-y'. I'll make sure to give it another go.

    rubi - We saw the kool-aid but had to get water because of all the honey on that chicken. Too much sugar!

    Jessica - Everyone's suggestions are making me want to go to Alabama just to try the food! Alex actually liked the cheese grits until the end when he said they got to sticky. It was me who wasn't a huge fan. I'll be sure to give those another try too!

    Anonymous - I'm glad the post made you laugh, even if it was at our ignorance! We had a feeling that chicken and waffles might have just been a rap thing because Snoop Dog is always going on about them -that's why we cautiously put everything in quotes. Thank you so much for your suggestions (and for schooling us), we'll take note next time we are able to go somewhere more authentic!

    Anonymous #2 - I was under the impression that corn bread was savory, so when we were served a sweet version, I just didn't like it. Thanks for the info. We're just a bunch clueless Canadians.

    Fit With Flash - When we go to the south, maybe you can line up a southern grandma who will be willing to cook for us!

  12. Haha, I guess another clueless Canadian here. This post made me laugh!! That photo with the chicken the waffle and Alex's "WTF look" is priceless!!

  13. I'm not exactly a southern girl (ok, ok, I'm from Minnesota and live in Boston) - but a girl's gotta make cornbread. There are usually two different kinds: sweet and muffin-like, and savory/salty, perfect for getting covered in gravy or the smotherings that are talked of above. If you're ever in Boston, Tupelo has gotten great reviews, and I've really liked my meals there--cheesy grits and pan-fried catfish, yum.

  14. Anonymous13.10.10

    Anonymous (10:08am) again

    You guys are so cute, it is okay to be clueless. I am very clueless about many of the places you visit which is why I love y'alls blog :)

  15. I'm glad you enjoyed your chicken and waffles! I was chuckling at the comments from the Alabama girls who had never heard of it. It's not a universal southern dish, so I see where they're coming from. I'm half southern, (my mom is from Georgia) so I insist that you have to give collard greens and grits another chance. Everyone's recipe is different, but your gauranteed to find some that you like. I promise :)

  16. i've heard of chicken and waffles! if only for the fact that i was always watching the food network for some time. haha. i'm surprised not more people from the south know about it, but its not like i've visited many southern states. its hard enough to get anywhere in texas (which is where i'm from and annoyingly such a large state.) lol. glad you got to try some southern food, but i'd have to agree with some of the other people, it would probably be even better if you were at a diner in a southern state. :)

  17. this is awesome. we used to go to a place in phoenix called lo lo's that had chicken and waffles.

  18. Hello from another Alabama girl! Im from Huntsville, in know, the home of the one & only Antoine Dodson ;)

    Y'all need to head South very soon and get your forks in some true Southern grub!! Chicken & Waffles I've never had, although it does sound like an oddly intriguing dish! My suggestion for a well rounded delicious Southern meal? Chicken & Dumplin's with fried okra, creamed corn, and macaroni & cheese. Made from scratch biscuits with cold, fresh tomato slices stuffed inside. A fizzy Coca-Cola on ice. And finish off with a sweetly decadent slice of pecan pie!

    Can't wait to read more of your travels. I adore your blog!

  19. Heh, that's the first time I hear about such a strange combination :)
    Heheh, looks a bit wrong, but interesting at the same time ;)

  20. Anonymous19.10.10

    Being from Atlanta I know southern food. We have Gladys Knight's Chicken and Waffles. I haven't tried it but want to and every time I'm in LA I always want to go to Roscoe's but never make it there. If you want really good really traditional southern food and you are in Atlanta one good place to go is Mary Mac's Tea Room. Their food is really good and the sweet tea is REALLY sweet and its been around forever.

  21. chicken and waffles! what an excellent choice :)
    a few months ago my friends and i had a fried chicken and waffles party, haha. of course we are from NC!