Well, we arrived in Florida in one piece, no thanks to our shuttle car driver and his 2fast2furious skills. A quick search on our phone revealed that a Waffle House was just .3 miles from our lovely (cough) resort. We stayed at the Bilmar Beach Resort in Treasure Island. Sounds like a place full of magic and wonder, streets lined with gold. Really, it's an anemic beach town with hotels designed after the 70's Las Vegas strip. But, it has a Waffle House.
The Waffle House nearest my house is 200 miles south, in St. Charles, Mo. The last time I ate at one was about 10 years ago in Phoenix, AZ. It was a deliciously memorable experience I was more than happy to relive in FL.
The chain began in 1955 in a suburb of Atlanta. A Toddle House manager and his neighbor decided to open a 24-hour restaurant with an emphasis on friendly customer service. They grew to 4 restaurants and in the 60s, saw a lot of growth along highways and interstates. Obviously they are known for their waffles (they serve 145 per minute) and breakfast foods, but their menu includes many lunch staples as well.
The menu can be viewed HERE
Pretty much every Waffle House looks the same. They have the counter with an open kitchen so you can watch the workers sweat into the waffle irons. You can also hear them yell out their diner lingo and bitch at each other. We actually visited twice during our stay due to the lack of clean and inviting dining options in the area. And due to our gluttonous desire for waffles.
The first trip, I ordered the ridiculously large All-Star Special. It featured a waffle, hashbrowns, eggs, toast, and ham. I opted for a strawberry waffle which the waitress dutifully admitted was infused with artificial strawberry flavoring. No matter. It had an essence of Frankenberry that took me back to my childhood.
Hashbrowns were greasy, eggs were greasy, ham was greasy. Not complaining, just stating the facts. I did, however, blot my eggs a little bit before I dug in and punctured the yolk.
On our second visit, I was feeling slighty more health conscious, so I ordered scrambled egg whites and chicken breast. Again, I blotted the chicken which was dewy with griddle oils.
Richie ordered over-easy eggs, toast, a plain waffle, and hashbrowns "all-the-way." they have many different disgustingly rich options for decorating your hash, and all-the-way includes, well, all of them. Don't be deceived by the photo, under the exorbitant amount of breakfast gravy and the crunchy top stratus mingled many mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, ham, and cheeses.
Both of our waffles were cooked impeccably, with nary a burnt crust or undercooked bite.
Round two: Chili cheese omelet and hashbrowns all-the-way. He obviously likes the hashbrowns.
I might not be so enthused on Waffle House's greasy selections if I had easier access to one, but I thoroughly enjoyed my meals. It's a fun change of pace from the Midwest's Village Inns and IHOPs. Plus, the waffles, though made in what looked to be a standard waffle maker, were pretty much perfect.
Oh Waffle House, I hope to rendezvous again. Until then, we shall lust for you from afar.