Waffle Amore’s Judy Vandoorne pours a ladleful of yeast batter into a round waffle iron and closes the lid, as steam escapes. Don’t expect any maple syrup, though. This crisp, golden waffle is destined for filling — with pulled pork, apple slaw and barbecue sauce.
Meet the wafflewich, the newest trend to pop up on food truck, restaurant and even wine bar menus. The chicken and waffles craze has been joined by a new wave waffle mania that showcases waffles stuffed like a pita, folded taco-style or filled with everything from chicken parmesan to toasted marshmallows.
Vandoorne’s griddled-batter love first led her to Belgium, where she learned the art of waffle-making. Back home, she launched Waffle Amore, a San Jose-based food truck that delivers waffle love throughout the South Bay.
“You can do anything with waffles,” Vandoorne says. “The sky’s the limit.”
The Bay Area is not the only region consumed by waffle passion. Los Angelenos grab “stuffles” — waffles stuffed with hot dogs, grilled chicken or mozzarella — at the Downey Farmers Market, or head for one of six Bruxi locations for waffle sandwiches filled with burgers, lox or buttermilk-fried chicken.
And you’ll find “puffles” — stuffed puff pastry cooked in a waffle iron — on Epicurious.com, and stuffed waffles, wafflewiches and waffle sliders on Instagram and Pinterest, where waffles even have their own hashtag.
Of course, it’s always #wafflewednesday at Alameda’s two-year-old wine bar, Wine and Waffles. Owners Vickie and Ken Monize are such waffle aficionados, they included waffles in their wedding vows — and made a toast to wine and waffles, pledging to open a wine bar next door to the family’s Ole’s Waffle Shop, which has been an Alameda mainstay since 1927.
Vickie’s daughter, chef Tamara Jenson, created the bar’s waffle sandwich menu as a spin on Ole’s original flapper-era recipe. Now you can pair your zin or chardonnay with rib-eye or avocado, lettuce and tomato waffle sandwiches, fried chicken waffle sliders or s’mores dessert waffles.
Buttermilk-fried chicken wafflewiches are a hot item at Justin Funamura’s Waffle Roost, too, which runs two Silicon Valley-based food trucks.
“Our waffle has a light caramelized glaze, which gives it a slightly sweet touch,” he says. “With the saltiness and slight spice of the chicken, we are trying for the best in sweet and savory.”
And you’ll find sweet and savory options galore at the brick-and-mortar Butter & Zeus, which offers 24 waffle sandwiches.
“Waffles are the new tortilla,” says owner Nga Huynh, who opened the Santa Clara eatery in 2013, inspired by a waffle sandwich she ate in Oklahoma City. “It’s like the taco, where everything from Korean short ribs to mashed potatoes is wrapped in a taco.”
Her waffles encase everything from pastrami and Swiss to banana pudding. The craziest filling, Huynh says, is the Loco Moco, which includes a burger patty, two fried eggs and gravy.
“It works on a bun, so why not a waffle?” she says.
Even the wine country is not immune. Melted Napa Valley serves up waffle sandwiches with tomato basil soup for dipping.
“I thought I was the first one to make a waffle sandwich,” owner Paul Slack says. “Turns out they are all over social media.” His twist: “We do a second baking. That’s one of our secrets. You get a little crunch when you bite into it.”
Fillings and toppings have evolved, but so has the batter itself. At Waffle Amore, Vandoorne whisks up cornbread and biscuit batters, and she’s working on a savory amaranth and almond flour mix. Wine and Waffles’ Jenson created a gingerbread-spiced batter for her holiday waffle sandwich and graham cracker waffles for her s’mores.
And there’s more to come. Now Vandoorne is testing cheeseburger and cauliflower parmesan wafflewiches for her food truck’s menu. Melted’s Slack says he may open a 100-percent vegan and gluten-free waffle sandwich shop. Even Eggo is getting in on the action: The waffle giant is marketing a frozen waffle breakfast sandwich, too. We have a feeling it does not come with tomato basil soup for dipping.
get your WAFFLE fix:
Butter and Zeus: 2213 Tasman Drive, Santa Clara; www.butterandzeus.com
Lt. Waffle: 3417 18th St., San Francisco; www.ltwaffle.com
Melted Napa Valley: 966 Pearl St., Napa; www.meltednapavalley.com
Waffle Amore: Follow this South Bay food truck on Twitter @WaffleAmore for schedule and locations; www.waffleamore.com.
The Waffle Roost: This food truck makes stops from Menlo Park to Oakland. Find the schedule and locations on Twitter @TheWaffleRoost, and at www.thewaffleroost.com.
Wine and Waffles: 1505 Park St., Alameda;