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Strip Search: Pigging Out on Pico, Mid-City

Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles
Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles Photo: PointnShoot via Flickr

Feeling gluttonous? The gut-busting 5000 block of West Pico Blvd. thrives for anyone who’s feeling more than simply hungry. Here are three restaurants that offer food, more food, and food inside of more food in an attempt to ensure that no belly gets left unstretched. One is a classic chain that draws in big crowds of locals and their visitors alike, one is a stalwart legend in hot dog hybridization, and the other a Southern buffet that goes heavy on the gravy, but light on the bank account. Enjoy these three suggestions for filling your gullet beyond comfortable capacity on Mid-City Pico.

Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles

Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, as seen in the above photo of a Sunday morning crush, is a destination that draws locals and visitors alike and gets frequently cited as a celeb hangout in the post-clubbing hours. The all-night takeout joint was opened in 1975 by a resident of Harlem before expanding to other locations, and is primarily known for its namesake combination, fried chicken served with waffles, with multiple variations and a variety of hefty breakfast-for-dinner plates also available. While neither the fried chicken or the waffles are the best version you’ll find in the city, Roscoe’s is a rite of passage for trying them together. The truly hungry will be well-sated by the signature plate of bird and breakfast, while fans have favorite sides like mac and cheese, candy yams, red beans and rice, and giblets, along with mixed juices like the Sunrise (OJ and lemonade), and a piece of sweet potato pie to finish it off. More adventurous chickenheads come for Stymie’s Choice, a decadent dish of chicken livers (or giblets, if you like) smothered in gravy and onions and served with grits, eggs, and a biscuit. You can also find these parts spread in omelettes and other combinations of chicken, waffles, and biscuits. Either way you take it, you’re not leaving here hungry.

Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, 5006 W. Pico Blvd. 323-934-4405.

Oki Dog

Oki-Dog is more OG than O-Dog, having served central L.A. in a few different grimy locations for decades. It is low on charm for newcomers and survives mostly as a nostalgic must for Angelenos who remember when the Olympics came to town and Robbie Conal ruled the streets while Banksy was probably still teething. Invented long before the fusion taco gained prominence and Umami had perfected its flavor balance, the Oki-Dog itself is a monstrosity of a hot dog with supposed Okinawan roots: Two wieners get split and covered with cheese, pickles, pastrami, and chili and then get wrapped in a flour tortilla. The result is a messy half-chili dog, half-burrito that looks slightly obscene and takes its place with Tommy’s and Hawkins Burger as one of L.A.’s sloppiest plates. Is it good? That answer probably depends on how much weed you smoked before going here, but overall, it is a dirty delicious bite for junk food fanatics and fast food fiends with iron stomachs.

Oki-Dog, 5056 W Pico Blvd. Mid-City. 323-938-4369.

Buffet Soul

Buffet Soul, which used to be a location of Chef Marilyn’s Soul Food Express, has all those smothered Southern plates and meat cuts that Roscoe’s doesn’t. It’s a take-out place of mostly pre-made dishes at a discount, arranged like a buffet, but priced per piece. 99 cents buys different sides, from black eyed peas and mashed potatoes to neck bones and individual fried chicken legs, while fifty cents buys you a cornbread muffin. Spend a little more and get oxtails ($8.00), short ribs ($7.00) ham hocks ($1.25), a salmon croquette, smothered pork chops ($3.95), and catfish baked ($6.00) or fried ($1.95). A good rule of thumb here is the more gravy and sauce covering it, the better it probably is. Just don’t leave without snatching up one of the counter-side mini-cobblers.

Buffet Soul, 5068 W. Pico Blvd. Mid-City. 323-931-3879.

Strip Search: Pigging Out on Pico, Mid-City