My girlfriend and I had spent three rough months trying to figure out how to date each other. Nothing was working. We were awkward and poor communicators and just generally not a good fit. We were going to a coffee shop to break up but figured we would see too many people we knew.
Break ups are emotional. So we escaped. To Waffle House.
I don't remember what either of us ordered, probably hashbrowns smothered and covered. It's not really my usual haunt. But the coterie of drunk waiters, more-drunk truckers, and government cheese served as the backdrop to one of the toughest conversations of our lives.
At the end of the conversation, we decided to give it one more shot. 7 years later, we're happily married.
I don't care what anyone says...Waffle House is magical.
When you meet someone who's similar to you, or doesn't have much overlap, you tend to get along easily, because it's a frictionless surface. When you meet someone who compliments you, it takes time for the gears to lock into place. You're going to miss the connections a few times, but once they click, they're rock solid.
Any time you initially don't get along with someone, but generally think they're level with you in most ways, it's probably best to give it some time and see how it goes. They might compliment you a lot better than someone who's agreeable immediately.
She said, "I think I remember the swill,
And as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it."
And I said, "Well that's the one thing we've got."
But I don’t care, Anthony Bourdain got it:
(As long as I live, I’ll think of him every time I see a Waffle House.)
So much of the appeal for me is the nostalgia and atmosphere. My roots are rural and poor, so when I walk into a WH, I feel like I'm surrounded by "my people." I'll sit down at the bar next to an old, chubby man in overalls and a scraggly white beard and be reminded of my neighbor playing banjo on his porch. When I look over at a table with a mom, children, and grandparents, I can easily imagine them as my cousins. I can come in alone, but I'll never feel lonely.
Completely disagree. IMO the hash browns and waffles are better than all fast food chains, most hotel/business breakfasts, and many diners.
It's almost: In N Out is not the best burger, but it is the best burger at what it is trying to be.
But as an operation and an experience, it’s a treasure.
Having said that I happen to agree with the other comments that their meat can be poor quality, but their hashbrowns, eggs, toast and waffles are perfect.
I always assumed that Waffle House’s food is Sysco-sourced. If so, how is it not a chemical amalgamation from a soulless corporation?
The last time I visited a Waffle House, and I ordered fried eggs, I was curious what kind of oil the eggs were fried in (sunflower, rapeseed, whatever). The waitress then showed me some horrible aerosol can that looked totally synthetic and didn’t name any particular source for the oil.
Nowadays, when I travel the American South, I prefer to go to eateries for the local Mexicans and other Central American immigrants (they are there if you look for them); there most of the ingredients seem fresher, less processed.
I haven't actually been to one before... sounds like it'd be fun to try once, but not somewhere I'd go regularly or seek out.
The syrup, for example, is basically high-fructose corn syrup with added flavouring. So is the ketchup. I didn't sample the entire menu but the overwhelming impression was of it being composed of the cheapest edible food-like substances known to science. It didn't feel to me like a time machine back to an era of cheap-and-cheerful diners that served real honest food, but rather depressingly contemporary.
And yet there must be something there. Something that prompts folks like you to genuinely see it as not just a chemical amalgamation, even though by any objective standard it really is. Something that I missed. (The place was deserted at the time when I went, so maybe that was it.) Something that makes me still wonder if I should go back and search for it, even though I don't know what I'm looking for.
“I've always tried to adopt a generic approach to the movies, judging each film in terms of its type and the expectations we have for it.”
This idea is what Bourdain was invoking when he called Waffle House better than French Laundry, since it’s otherwise patently absurd to compare the two.
Maybe this is what you missed.
If only we'd been in the south and not the Midwest, WaHo may have won the title for him and his friends. I probably wouldn't tease him about that one, either!
I happen to like Carl's Jr. (Hardees other name)... although I don't like everything they make, and some locations are better than others.
I think they could improve their cooking in some respects by using microwaves more. I really hate bacon that isn't crispy, and surprisingly enough, a microwave will do that quickly when used properly. I've only ever seen one restaurant do that openly. It's a mystery to me why all of the awful fast food chain breakfast sandwiches don't take advantage of the technique.
don't hurt that they are heavily windowed with lots of bright lighting and always open. after midnight in bar heavy areas can be a good time for people watching
I spent so many nights in college at a Waffle House after midnight I couldn't attempt to count it if I had too. Lots of great memories in that place.
Maybe her heart was in the right place but that idea was doomed from the start. Waffle House and Chick-fil-a are 100% boycott proof in the south, me personally I eat at waho 3 times a week- it’s the best most consistent bang for your buck and the service is impeccable even at 4am.
A great example was Starbucks who sank several millions into training. That training is based on known flawed testing and almost certainly does nothing to ameliorate the problem it claims to fix. It is fantastic for the social justice activist educator industry though. At best it's a conflict of interest. At worst it's blackmail.
This fun thing happened there as well : https://abcnews.go.com/US/north-carolina-state-university-st...
I've been in a Waffle House when a Bengal player walks in with his "crew," and he paid for everyone's food (including mine), tipping the wait staff with $100 bills.
I've also been at a Waffle House with a woman who ordered a salad. Suffice to say, that relationship didn't last at all.
Good nights end at Waffle House -- when one of my friends got married, we all went to Waffle House after the reception, bride and groom included.
The idle chit-chat, the consistent menu...Texas Bacon Cheesesteak Melt sandwich with a waffle, well done and a sprite. Open all night, half the customers are always diverse and or drunk or stoned off their ass, and still manages to have fewer fist fights than a Chuck-E-Cheez.
It always amused me when I was younger that you could go to either one at 2am and it would be filled with both kids like me getting some food after a party and truckers stopping for a break. Filled!
I've heard that part of the reason for this is that Waffle Houses only come in one size, so if there's more demand they build more locations instead of bigger ones.
Just went to a new (to me) Waffle House yesterday in Haughton, Louisiana. Highly recommend it, very friendly and a Rock Star Grill Operator named Greg who can sling hash with the best of them.
Having spent many years in the Carolinas, it was a special time with my daughters that we would have “our time” at the Waffle House. My wife from New Jersey never understood and was happy to let us go.
There is just something about the simplicity of the place that just makes me happy. Now that I live Out West nothing comes close - not IHOP or Denny’s or anything.
I grew up in rural America and then by I guess trick of genetics grew a personality that needed to get out, and so now I've lived in both that world and the Big City America world, and the Big City Asia world and the Big City Europe world. Things you may take for granted (and if you've lived/know rural America, don't take this as me teaching something you know, this is for those that literally don't know) are things like access to public transportation or the ability to walk to the grocery store or some restaurant, or hospital. Like, you might gash yourself on a rusty bit of farm equipment and the nearest hospital is literally an hour drive away - and they might not be equipped to handle some of the weirder shit you can do to your body, so now you gotta head to the state's Big City to get treatment. Things like that create a different mindset, around government, around healthcare, around self-sufficiency.
You might have your kids bus an hour each way to school. There's little choice then. If your kid gets bullied, if the teachers there are racists, whatever, there's not much you can do about it, and what are you gonna do, attend a PTA meeting when it's an hours' drive away?
A lot of the differences out there boil down to those two things - limited choice, high self-sufficiency. Don't be surprised at the non-ironic bootstrap language coming from red state americans - it's the reality for many of them. The benefits that we enjoy in a city might not even exist for them out there - the library, the busses, whatever. Or if they exist they're very very far away. Not many restaurants to choose from, not many doctors. Not many different kinds of jobs - if you're within driving distance of Nashville there's like twenty different cafes or grocery stores you can work at as a 16 year old trying to save for college. If you're not near any Big Cities, well, maybe you can score a job at the gas station? If there's any left?
I'm wandering and meandering here, apologies for making this post a struggle - I'm open to any thoughts people might have on this, particularly from others that get where I'm coming from, that have lived the rural America life. I never experienced it as an employed adult (other than as a visitor to home) so there is a gap in my knowledge there.
The ten states where federal aid makes up the highest percentage of the state budget are: Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, Kentucky, Montana, Tennessee, Wyoming, Alaska, Missouri
The ten states the highest percentage of food stamp recipients are: Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, New Mexico, Louisiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina
I still think Joseph Heller had that kind of ideology pegged best:
> He was a long-limbed farmer, a God-fearing, freedom-loving, law-abiding rugged individualist who held that federal aid to anyone but farmers was creeping socialism. [...] Major Major's father was an outspoken champion of economy in government, provided it did not interfere with the sacred duty of government to pay farmers as much as they could get for all the alfalfa they produced that no one else wanted or for not producing any alfalfa at all.
I feel like I have a strong appreciation for these Waffle House photos that I would not have had a month ago. This is really great.
I have eaten or got take out from a place like this many times in my youth. Think MSG laden heaps of cheap food trying to resemble both Chinese and Indonesian cuisine but with lots of dishes that are neither. Even though I never really eat there anymore, every once in a while my family will still get take out from such a place and even though I have a strong dislike for the food over the years, there is a certain feeling these places invoke which is reminiscent of my youth.
And you are correct about meat and three. Matthew's out in Tucker is a suitable yet not complete replacement, but scratches the itch.
Especially if you sold a wireless mesh company and know a guy named Eric from your GT days who recently changed jobs from one consultancy to another...
There'll be a couple of middle-aged white guys like myself in there. But the rest of the customers - everything from truckers, to young people there after an all-night binge, to a person or two who looks like they're hitch-hiking to their next temporary destination.
Nobody I knew ate there on a regular basis. They never got mentioned at school or work or church. Me and my family ate there maybe three times I can remember and all three times it was an OK experience but we'd rather go to Grandy's or just the Golden Corral breakfast bar.
After the state redid the Interstate in such a way as to move those major exits to other locations, thus rendering the Houses of Waffle more easily accessible from the city streets but not an immediate off-the-highway-and-back-on situation, they both closed within two months of each other, a year after the change. In an amusing twist, one of those parcels is now home to a Whataburger and I regularly see its parking lot full. I'll never not go to a Whataburger and if by some miracle someone builds one inside the city limits of Seattle, I will move next door and live there until my last day no matter the cost. But I've never seen the attraction of Waffle House.
It was a really great time. The hours were rough. Sometimes I worked two shifts back to back. Sometimes I had to drive an hour away to fill in at another store. It was an all-cash operation at the time. But even though there were one or two people I didn't get along with, it was still ok. Certainly not like some of the back-stabbing bullshit I've since had to put up with at almost all of my software development jobs after getting my degree.
We saw some crazy shit. We did some crazy shit. That was during the "post-party rush". Bars in the area close at 2am, so we'd get a rush of drunk people then, but they were all cool. We'd get another rush of mostly tweekers at 4am, and that's when the crazy shit happened. One night, a dude walked in completely naked. I held him off with a mop for the whole 2 minutes it took for the cops who just left to get the call and come back. One morning, right in the middle of Sunday rush, a very large woman exploded fecal matter all over the bathroom. I was the most recent person to be hired, so it was my job to clean it up. I made myself a full body suit out of plastic wrap and some drinking straws for air holes, dragged the parking-lot-cleaning hose in from outside and blasted everything down.
Those are the only "bad" things I remember, though I'm sure more happened. I remember the good things, mostly. Singing along with everyone in the shop, customers and employees alike, to "Bohemian Rhapsody" on the jukebox. The dude who trolled us all by pumping $20 of quarters in the jukebox to play nothing but "Earl's Gotta Die", which we got to stop by unplugging the machine, but it forever screwed up the randomizer, so that was the only song that would play, leading us to take a communal collection of quarters to play songs throughout the day to avoid it. Getting the underside of my car doors "buttered" by my best-friend coworker. Discussing C++ hacks with another. Coming up with crazy, off-book recipes we'd serve to the regulars. Making the grill shine for the next guy. Flipping eggs one handed, over the shoulder, back into the pan behind my back. Getting "hazed" by being made to work a Sunday morning rush on my own for an hour (usually takes at least 3 cooks, if not 4). Which was great training for the time a tour bus of old folks rolled in during the last half-hour of my shift, when I had just broken down the grill to clean it. The time the entire town ran out of $5 bills and I got sent on a wild goose chase to track some down.
I really miss "Mom" and "Bubba" and "Peanut" and "Matt".
I was 16 or 17 and pretty naive to some of the more "adult" stuff going on. I'm (now) pretty sure one of the waitresses was a raging cokehead, and I'm pretty sure one of the managers was sleeping with her.
But yeah, once I saw what the article was about, I knew exactly what it was talking about. We had one of the best views of sunrise. Those overnight shifts were hard, sleep-wise, but they were also pretty fun. And everybody had to do it, at some point. Us young guys knew we were working the late shift because the moms had kids to take care of, not because our managers were being dicks. And if a customer was a dick to a waitress, we'd didn't catch hell from management for telling the him to get out. I've had corporate managers tell me it's "not my place" to call out sexual harassment when I see it in the workplace. I couldn't keep it up because the pay was obviously not anywhere near what I make as a software developer, but also because the floor soap was caustic to my feet and cutting the tomatoes was giving me terrible rashes on my hands (I have a mild allergy to acidic foods). But sometimes, I really wonder if the treatment likely the vast majority of us have received in the corporate environment is really worth it.
(BTW: scattered, smothered, covered)
Edit: She just reminded me, no one else in the restaurant ever seemed to care.
Anybody know why that would be? I could understand if they were on opposite sides of the street but this makes no sense to me.
I think they check off all three quite well and that's what it is. They're not trying to be something they are not, and they 'are what they are' very well.
Still, strange to read all the romanticising over it. Sure it's diverse, but that's just living in the south for you. One of my mom's friends was a waffle house cook, and to go by her experience it wasn't a great gig. Inconvenient hours, and paid just enough to afford a double wide and old pickup. But a job is better than no job, and a meal at waffle house is better than no meal (or gas station food).
I had a friend who ran track and he ate enough every time to close down the place I would have thought.
They removed the option after a couple of years.
I guess a lot of students got skinnier.
Personally I used to love their breakfeast food (of course) but they changed the oil they use to fry the breakfast items and I could not stand it. I kept trying but I could not get passed it.
I tried 3 other Waffles Houses near where I lived back then and it was the same in each one.
I havent been back since, but I really miss the way they used to be. I should find one and see if they have switched oils again.
Everyone looked very friendly. I guess it's not my taste, but she treated it like a place I had to visit haha
I've only been in a Waffle House once, but did enjoy the food and the service--definitely on my list for the next time I'm down south.
Kinda like stepping into a WaHo or QT.
Last year I was in Florida a few times and tried a Wawa in St Lucie and Brandenton. Thoroughly underwhelming at all levels. The magic is gone.
The closest Waffle House and Wawa to me are right next to each other. Waffle House has a cross-section of society eating breakfast. Wawa has a cross-section too, with more getting coffee than anything else.
 - https://web.archive.org/web/20190315210024/https://bittersou...