Waffle House: Americana, Smothered in Gravy!

If you’ve ever been to a wedding reception at the Waffle House, you might be a redneck!“–Jeff Foxworthy.

Waffle House

Waffle House

You don’t have to be a redneck to dine at the Waffle House, but it just might help.  But I kid.  As a proud Long Islander, one of my guiltiest pleasures whenever I head down south towards Dixie, is to stop into the bright yellow beacon, known as the Waffle House.  Of course, you can find this chain of diners throughout the United States, but they are contained mostly throughout the American south.  To southerners, this place is haute cuisine.  To northerners, this is quite the exotic gastronomic delight that one just cannot say no to.

"The sky is filled with waffles!"

“The sky is filled with waffles!”

Why is this place so exotic to me?  Well, whenever I go on a road trip through the U.S., or spend a few days in a city not in the north or midwest, there are some telltale signs that you’re not in Kansas anymore!  If you’re not a native New Yorker, the following references may be lost to you.  Like when you stop seeing Mobil gas stations, and you start seeing Phillips 66.  Or you see less Burger Kings, and start seeing Jack in the Box’s and Hardees or Carl’s Jr.  But one sign that you have clearly left New York behind is when you stop seeing IHOP’s and start seeing Waffle Houses.  That tall yellow sign just beckons you to step inside and have a seat at the eating establishment the Mid-Atlantic forgot.  Optional smoking for one thing is something you’ll find at most Waffle Houses.  A limited menu that seems to steer clear of fancy items like crepes and multiple omelet choices.  One sign of a southern establishment: offering patrons a side of grits, and not just ham, but “country” ham.  That’s a saltier ham that is carved off a bone.  You can also get a side of raisin toast with apple butter.  Or for those looking to scare carb-haters, get some smothered biscuits with your eggs!  Go ahead, I dare you!

One of my favorite Waffle House memories comes from when my dad and I stopped at one for breakfast outside Myrtle Beach, SC.  I was dressed in a t-shirt, khaki shorts, and sneakers.  My dad, on the other hand, was wearing a striped seersucker suit, in pink and green, a bowtie, and slicked-back hair.  I looked rather ordinary, and he was dressed like an extra in either Hello, Dolly or a wallflower at a country club.  And he was inside a Waffle House, for God sake!  As if he couldn’t look more inappropriately dressed for Waffle House, the waitress slides him his eggs and sausage, and he’s on his Blackberry phone, and doesn’t even acknowledge the plate of fried awesomeness that is just inches from his texting digits!  Could he have been more disrespectful in such an establishment?  Well, my mom once tried to order a bottle of wine inside a Cracker Barrel!  But I’ll save that for another time…

"Variety, thy name is hash browns!"

“Variety, thy name is hash browns!”

I, on the other hand, am not picky when it comes to comfort food.  I do love their waffles, especially with a side of sausage patties, which I prefer to the typical links.  But one thing that is more tempting than their namesake waffles, is their array of homemade hash browns.  Served in a molded round shape, the shredded potatoes can be topped any way you want, provided you know the lingo (e.g.: smothered: topped with sauteed onions; chunked: topped with hickory smoked ham).  Paired with a hot cup of coffee, it is the ultimate comfort food, as well as the perfect hangover cure.  And I am not ashamed to say that I indulged in the country topped goodness that is hash browns smothered in country sausage gravy.  Foreign to New Yorkers and Long Islanders, but to me, it was hard not to order it.  For the bravest eaters,  order up a triple-size order with the works!

"Mmmmmm, waffle!"

“Mmmmmm, waffle!”

"I'm gonna brand me a waffle!"

“I’m gonna brand me a waffle!”

"Hash browns, smothered in country gravy.  You know you want it!"

“Hash browns, smothered in country gravy. You know you want it!”

So if you’re heading south of the border, or at the very least, the Mason-Dixon line, do yourself a favor.  Leave your New Yorker attitude at the door, belly up to the counter seats, and just dig in!  I don’t care how sophisticated you are; nobody can resist a plate of hash browns.  Especially one that is covered in gravy!  Carb-watchers, be damned!  Pass the syrup, please.

"The perfect eye-opener!"

“The perfect eye-opener!”

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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