Downtown Condo Guys

Genemo Ali (By Frank Sabatini Jr.)
Restaurateur, Columbia District

A Young Entrepreneur Brings Chicken & Waffles to the Core-Columbia/Gaslamp District

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Ethiopian transplant Genemo Ali has branched into Downtown San Diego with Ali’s Chicken and Waffles, which he launched a couple years ago inside a Donut Star in City Heights.

His new downtown location is sleek and more spacious in comparison, and offers additional seating for customers to savor plump deep-fried chicken tenders dusted in corn starch, rice flour, and all-purpose flour. The tenders come in various heat levels and show up on combo plates or in sandwiches.

Right down to the waffles and mac-n-cheese, just about everything is made to order.

Ali and his family fled Ethiopia some years ago because of political unrest. After settling in San Diego, he completed high school in the City Heights area before earning a bachelor’s degree in business marketing from San Diego State University.

He told us that his initial love for chicken and waffles began with a visit to the famous Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles in Los Angeles. But his version of the dish carries a few personal spins that include the must-try coconut syrup, which he makes in-house. (We slathered it eagerly on both our waffles and chicken in lieu of maple syrup and the other available condiments.)

The menu extends also to french fries loaded with diced fried chicken, shrimp, corn and chipotle mayo. And if you’re looking for the ultimate flavor-bomb beverage, his “Mom’s Ice Tea” is the way to go. It’s a black-tea recipe he grew up with containing ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and pepper. Served hot or cold, it pairs swimmingly to everything.