Why Waffle House is a must-do

You can’t miss the golden sign, glowing for miles down the highway, beckoning you to come on it with the promise of a warm meal. And no, I’m not talking about the famous golden arches of McDonalds. This is different. This is Waffle House, maybe even more prevalent along southern highways than any other food chain.

Densely clustered across the Southern states in America, Waffle House started back in the 1950’s and has since exploded into a cultural icon.

Each one is nearly identical. The same handful of single seats along the counter and booths scattered around either end. The food is cooked right in front of you. The kitchen is quite literally the grill behind the main counter and the employees who take your order are also usually the ones who cook it while you watch. An assortment of tools, like toasters and waffle irons, are on hand to create an array of foods.

Photo: Sam Howzit via Flickr

The classic is, of course, a waffle, but they also are known for their hash browns which are ordered with words like “smothered”, “covered” or “chunked” which translates into “with onions”, “with cheese” and “with diced ham”. You can have grits with butter and cheese, which you have to try if you spend any time in the south. But if you are hungry for something other than breakfast, Waffle House takes care of that craving too with burgers and even a T-Bone steak.

Waffle House is such a staple in so many communities that the government agency, FEMA, which runs relief efforts when a natural disaster strikes, uses the chain as a measure of how bad things are from town to town. Say that a hurricane hits and a Waffle House remains open but with a limited menu, then that is an indicator that things are not as bad as they could be post-storm.

Waffle House pull in staff from outside the disaster areas to help keep things running and to allow their local employees to take care of their own families affected by the storm. This is actually what has been happening in Houston after Hurricane Harvey hit a few weeks ago and what will be happening in Florida now that Irma has moved out.

So when driving through the south make sure you stop in for an experience so American, it can’t be missed! 

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