The chicken and waffles at Brass Tacks, toppled.

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All at once it seems like chicken and waffles are everywhere, making the biggest splash at Nate Robinson’s new Rainier Beach joint, Nate’s Wing’s and Waffles. There you order your wings separately from your waffles—wings come with savory dipping sauces; there’s maple syrup in a squirt bottle on the table for the waffles—and “eat ‘em any way you want!” according to the very friendly cashier in this very friendly spot.

So: Wings on top of waffles? Wings beside the waffles? Dipping sauce on wings, syrup on waffles? Syrup and dipping sauce on both?

And fork or fingers? Bone-filled wings want fingers, but syrupy waffles call rather insistently for a fork.

Turns out there’s no historical consensus on any of this, only individual tradition. At the classic Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles in LA, they serve the chicken next to the waffle, but of the chicken and waffles I remember in New York, the bird always arrived on top.

Last weekend at brunch at Brass Tacks in Georgetown, waffles and drumsticks came in an artfully precarious tower of leaning pieces; it was visually arresting, in a Jenga kind of way.

Skillet Diner serves its chicken over the cornmeal waffle. Roux does the same, with ham hock maple jus. Kingfish Café too, with the choice of syrup or gravy. At Harry’s Chicken Joint in West Seattle (if you haven’t been to this little hole, run), it’s chicken strips and maple-plum sauce, but same concept. At the Burgundian Tavern in Wallingford, the waffles and the chicken come separated by little pots of bourbon maple syrup and apple butter and sausage gravy, which I would call covering the bases.

But only at Nate’s and Brass Tacks have I been served chicken and waffles on paper. You know, those paper-lined baskets you often get fish and chips in. Great for fish and chips, for sure…maybe not ideal for something swabbed in syrup.

 But dang if I didn't finish them anyway.