Mollie’s Famous Café. 32033 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano. 949.240.9261. www.molliesfamouscafesjc.com
From Los Angeles to Nashville, fried chicken is sold in warped shacks and up-to-code boutiques reproduced to look like those shacks. Many of these places will claim to have the best fried chicken, and many are right to do so.
But fried chicken is comfort food. Chefs can sprinkle organic smoked sumac in the batter or raise chickens in their grandmother’s backyard, but fried chicken appeals more to the soul than the taste buds, so it’s all a little fruitless.
Given that criteria, Mollie’s makes fried chicken that could stand up against Gus’s, Roscoe’s, Yardbird or any other take. And they don’t make a big deal about it, out of what seems like 300 menu items, “fried chicken and waffles” gets a bolded font and a small box. You could miss it.
But then you’d be missing a breast, wing and thigh that are wrapped in a thin, crispy and deeply umami skin, flecked with a healthy amount of fiery black pepper. The meat is moist and abundant, and the balance of crunch to chew is exemplary.
Underneath, two gorgeous Belgian waffles are crispy and light, and taste like vanilla and lemon. A Tapatio butter rounds out the dish and elevates it beyond reproach—if this isn’t your style of waffle or chicken, the butter is undeniable.
Perhaps it’s the big, perpetually filled coffee mug, or the wood panels, or the well-worn booths—or maybe it really is the chicken—but Mollie’s is comfort. Though you should see for yourself.