The Perfect Chicken Waffle? We Found it in Santa Rosa

Sonoma Crust bakery has beignets, chicken waffles and a whole lot of heart

Fried chicken waffle sandwich at Sonoma Crust in Santa Rosa. (Heather Irwin / The Press Democrat)

I’d pretty much given up on chicken waffles before Sonoma Crust.

What was once a nod to a proud southern tradition has become compulsory on too many restaurant menus–along with kale and beet salads, baked macaroni and cheese, and something with way too much applewood smoked bacon.

Beignets at Sonoma Crust in Santa Rosa. (Heather Irwin / The Press Democrat)
Beignets at Sonoma Crust in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD

But Anne Sanusi, the lone baker/chef at the cozy Sonoma Crust Bakery has dialed in what hundreds of chefs before her couldn’t: The perfect chicken waffle sandwich. Rather than fried chicken perched atop a waffle, Sanusi hand breads and fries a fat breast while simultaneously ironing a fluffy Belgian-style waffle that she cuts in half and tops with aioli, tart coleslaw and just a soupcon of magic.

It is the best chicken waffle we’ve had. Ever.

The Nigerian-native has long garnered a passion for European-style baking, honing her skills at the JC Culinary program and serving perfectly crisp, powdered sugar beignets throughout the summer at the Downtown Farmer’s Market in Santa Rosa. Proudly scrappy, she runs her one-table catering cafe, and has built out much of the interior herself.

Anne Sanusi of Sonoma Crust Bakery. Heather Irwin/PD
Anne Sanusi of Sonoma Crust Bakery. Heather Irwin/PD

She’s expanding her offerings to include soups, a breakfast waffle sammie filled with an omelet and covered with sweet tomato jam, along with forthcoming chicken parmesan and BLT waffles.

Want to try one? Her tiny cafe has just one table inside, and you’ll need to be patient as Anne makes each waffle sandwich by hand.

Dreams take time, after all, and the widow and mom of two kids is building that dream one waffle, one beignet and one bowl of soup at a time.

Open 11a.m. to 7p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, 1040 N. Dutton Ave., Suite A, You can donate to her gofundme page here.