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I love Waffle House but I can’t convince my wife, kids, cousins or anyone else in my family. They just don’t get it.

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.)

I love the place (smoother & covered & country, pecan waffles, side sausage, and black coffee). I make it my mission to dine their with every friend I have. But it's definitely a place you have to "get" because the food is objectively bad (except the coffee, which is amazing).

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.

> the food is objectively bad

Completely disagree. IMO the hash browns and waffles are better than all fast food chains, most hotel/business breakfasts, and many diners.

Completely agree. A pile of hashbrowns, (country gravy on the side), some sausage, eggs, and a waffle, are things that waffle house has perfected.

It's almost: In N Out is not the best burger, but it is the best burger at what it is trying to be.

I’m a lifelong patron and there’s really no hiding it: the food is not good. The grits are glue, the waffles are corn syrupy, the actual syrup is also corn syrupy, and the meat - well I no longer eat the meat.

But as an operation and an experience, it’s a treasure.

I'm sorry you've had such a poor experience at the waffle house. I go for the opposite reason: the WH cooks make so much breakfast food all day every day that they're quite good at it. Now whether you actually like that kind of food may make you think it's bad when really it's just something you don't care for.

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 concur, the food is just not very good. Anyone that thinks it is clearly needs to broaden their culinary horizons.

I'd never been to one until a couple years ago, when my girlfriend swore by it and took me there. I've been hooked since. It feels like stepping into a time machine, to when "fast food" wasn't a chemical amalgamation that a soulless corporation was trying to pass off as food. Waffle House has cheap but honest food, and is staffed by people who don't appear to be miserable and don't have to hide in the back with the microwaves. It lacks the cynicism of its peers.

> when "fast food" wasn't a chemical amalgamation that a soulless corporation was trying to pass off as food. Waffle House has cheap but honest food

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'd assume it's just aereosolized vegetable oil... it is a bit of a weird question so maybe the waitress didn't understand?

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.

At least the eggs were real

It's interesting to me how views are so polarised. I once asked a professional cook where the best restaurant in town was and she said she mostly just ate at WaHo. I had seen the Bourdain clip. So when I finally went there the first time I was predisposed to like it. And it was just disappointing.

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.

Roger Ebert once wrote this about how he reviewed movies:

“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.

My brother was (retired in his early 40s) a chef and worked closely with a small cohort of serial restaurateurs. He and his friends swore by Hardees. To this day I don't get it. My father and I still crack jokes at their expense, whenever we see a Hardees, "Where the chef's eat!"

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 have a friend who works with guys that work in a high end restaurant kitchen... they eat convenience store hot dogs and nachos after work. Like a lot of people.

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.

It’s tasty. The honesty isn’t in the food. It’s in the eater.

I always thought of their waffles as "a tasty chemical amalgamation that a soulless corporation was trying to pass off as food". I'd think it's a pretty rare waffle that doesn't have chemical leavening.

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.

I love waffle house because I can tip 100%.

You put your finger on it. You can tip 100% and someone else with limited mulah can't. That's what makes it special and impossible to find such WHs in SF, LA, NYC areas.

My cheese eggs with raisin toast, bacon, and grits, hold the apple butter, is only about seven dollars. I don’t make a lot of money, so it makes me very happy that I can leave a seven dollar tip and pay about the same as I would have if I had gone to another place.

Yes! I took my three boys there each time we travelled South. They are all grown but still won't miss Waffle House when they see one. They think it a perfect visit when they get to kid a middle-aged waitress who won't take any of their guff.

i'll always think of my father, who had simple country tastes from his southern country upbringing. we'd go there all the time when i was little, and my lifelong love of hashbrowns (over homefries and such) was surely born there. it was also the last place i saw him before he passed away.

Same. I took my wife a long time ago when we were dating and for some reason she ordered a pork chop which wasn't great and it really turned her off of waffle house. I've been trying to get her to go back and will emphasize on sticking with the breakfast classics.

Waffle House has been a favorite of mine for as long as I could choose. Of the restaurant chains out there it always seems that you can blend right in, something about the format brings out a lot of good in people.

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

Scattered, smothered, covered, chunked.

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.

Thanks for posting that, it's wonderful.

That’s actually the Waffle House I grew up going to with my family and ate at three times a week during high school lunch period.

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