Ever since chicken and waffles entered the hipster vein, everyone is trying to make a buck off the pair. But there’s an ironclad guarantee that none can compare to Tampa Luv Chicken and Waffles, located at 8426 N. Florida Ave.
Luv’s is the sort of clandestine locale you pray you are lucky enough to learn about by word of mouth. Orders are placed at the counter; there are a few tables inside. Friday and Saturday, the kitchen is open until 5 a.m. for the late-night crowd. I can only imagine that those who know the gospel come spilling in after a night out, craving a juicy pile of fried poultry and waffle goodness.
A coworker invited this mutually adventurous eater out for one his last meals before going meatless. As final meals go, chicken and waffles would make my final list too.
The daily special was two pieces of fried chicken, bone-in, on top of a waffle, with a soda for under $5. I understand the ease and lure of the chicken tender, but tearing meat from a bone onto a bite of waffle was all too tempting. The grand total, for two orders of chicken and waffles, two sodas, and two sides of cheese grits was just under $16.
The menu is series of handwritten chalkboards, combinations of bone-in or boneless chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, sides of French fries or cheese grits. For dessert, waffles a-la-mode.
Various hot sauces and jugs of waffle syrup (I doubt it’s maple) are lined up like soldiers. I arm myself with some Crystal hot sauce for the grits and a carafe of sweet syrup.
To wash it all down, I select a grape soda from the available cans. It comes with a bendy straw, and I am in bliss.
Never underestimate the power of a bendy straw.
Within 10 minutes, the young woman who took our order brings out four Styrofoam containers. Luv’s portions makes Hungry Man meals look like Kid Cuisine. A “side” of cheese grits was practically pouring out of the full-sized Styrofoam container … all for less than $2. There had to be at least a pound of shredded cheddar in the individual serving. I like hot sauce on my grits, so I drizzled my grit trough with Louisiana hot sauce. The plastic spoon dived into the orange-tinted waters, emerging caked in cheese and grits. These were possibly the cheesiest cheese grits I’ve ever shoved into my mouth hole. There weren’t just cheese grits; this was like cheese grit fondue. I wanted to dip my entire soul into the goo.
Opening the box of chicken and waffles, the aroma was a combination of fried fat and cinnamon. The chicken wings were a deep golden brown and fried to the perfect level of crisp and crunch. The Belgian-style waffle was warm and soft with a slight crunch on the top, just how I like it. The lightest sprinkle of powdered sugar dusted the meal. Each bite of crispy chicken stacked on top of syrup-covered waffle, sent me reeling. Luv’s is 100-percent legitimate, the real deal, no imitations or substitutions.
In a matter of minutes, only bones and syrup were left inside the once full container — the savage beast’s hunger quenched and doused with purple drink. Luv’s small staff is friendly, and the food is consistent, delicious, and priced far below its worth. No cheap tricks here; Luv’s knows what they’re doing and they do it damn well.
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