Being from Maryland, I grew up with somewhat of a hybrid of Southern and Northern traits. I was brought up to be exceedingly polite, much to the amusement of my Pennsylvania friends; I used to eat King syrup instead of Maple syrup (which I've long since corrected); but I also don't call every variety of soda "coke," so, you know, I'm somewhere in the middle. As far as southern cuisine, however, I didn't have much experience with soul food or other styles growing up, even though Baltimore is known for cultivating that kind of food. One of those foods of which I was heretofore ignorant: chicken and waffles. Perhaps I should clarify; it was my stomach that was ignorant, but I had certainly heard of the practice. My understanding of the dish, however, was not based on the southern style so popular in Baltimore, but on the Pennsylvania Dutch version I encountered in York. That version is basically a kind of messy slop, and I had no more interest in that than I had in grits or hominy or other kinds of messy slops. But then my world changed. Who could have thought that chicken and waffles could be as simple as just chicken and waffles? A piece of fried chicken and a waffle. Genius. And like all other vehicles for maple syrup, it's delicious.
The fine establishment that opened my eyes to this greatest of combinations was already one of my favorite spots in Pittsburgh, Union Pig and Chicken. I've posted a few pictures of excursions there in the past, but I've never given the place its due, which I'll rectify now. UPC and its upstairs sister bar, Harvard and Highland, are simple, clean, unpretentious, and inspired. The food there, whether it be the chicken, the brisket, the pork sandwich (a must-have!) or the mac'n'cheese, is all to die for. (Many Pittsburgh restaurants claim to have the best mac'n'cheese: Kelly's, 1947, Independent Brewing Company, and many others. All good, but none of them can rival the straightforward goodness of Union Pig and Chicken).
You'll notice that there are no pictures of the food here, which is for a very simple reason. As soon as it's put in front of you, there's only one thing you can think about and one thing you can do: eat it. There's no time for messing around with cameras and lighting, just a man and his waffles.
If you want the chicken and waffle experience, you'll have to come by during Sunday brunch, but there's no bad time to visit. Any lunch sandwich with their special mustard (like the aforementioned pork, my #1 recommendation) will treat you right, as will an evening upstairs sipping eclectic bourbon. But make sure to come on Sunday too, and leave your camera at home.