The Secret Chain Restaurant and Fast-Food Shame of an Englishman

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Our Englishman loves Waffle House. English. Food. Love. Waffle House. The editor's brain is suffering snark overload.
You see all those chain restaurants, Dallas? All those bright shiny lights, beckoning you in to eat products of a questionable providence at a price so reasonable there's no need to go home and time-consumingly construct a meal for your baying, hungry, ungrateful family? You grew up around them (the restaurants, not the family, although presumably you know them quite well too). You know what happens there, what the deal is, what to expect (still the restaurants, not the family members. Focus now). Imagine if all this was alien to you -- if everything you knew about fast food and chain restaurants had been changed.

Imagine, if you will, moving 5,000 miles away, from a country where Papa John's pizza was a new arrival that was considered really quite an exotic pizza choice, to a place such as Dallas where neon food advertising coats the sides of the road, and there is no freeway exit without something that will only serve to knock valuable years off your life. All these places would seem infinitely more appealing to you. They'd have an air of mystery, that irresistible "Americana" the world is so desperate to capture. Deep down, you'd know that they were places serving reheated frozen food via surly staff members in demeaning clothing, but that wouldn't stop you. You'd have to try them all. And so I have. Here are my findings.

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Patrick Michels
A Wendy's Baconator calls to Gavin
Firstly, and let's get this out the way up front, Waffle House is incredible. Pancakes, waffles, hash browns, bottomless coffee, bacon everywhere you look. Always a friendly greeting, always open, it kind of melds the "I need somewhere to sober up now" venue with the "Jesus, it's three in the afternoon and I still have a hangover, let's eat something" place into one glorious palace of heart attack. That, and it's mind-blowingly cheap and cheerful. I mean, the Waffle House Index is an actual real life rating of how ravaged a disaster-hit area is, simply because they will never close, come rain, shine, plague or apocalypse. Plus, it's "real" -- customers of a Waffle House invariably look like that's where they spend a lot of their time, like if you'd cast a movie that featured a Waffle House, they would have all been chosen by the casting agent. It's far superior in my mind to IHOP, which, while fancier, is overpriced and feels more like a sanitized restaurant. Plus, the hash browns aren't as good. Four dollars for a huge plate of hash browns with everything you can find in the back of the restaurant piled on it? Sold.

I also really like Arby's. The sheer amount of beef and cheese you can get in one of their "deli" "sandwiches" (both of those words are questionably employed) is both awful and great, much like every show on TLC. Anywhere that does a dollar Oreo milkshake in a tiny cup, and then puts a straw in the milkshake that is five times the size of the cup thus making you look simultaneously like a midget and a giant, gets my vote. It's a nightmare of perspective that tastes like cookies. Chili's is fine by me, with $4 gigantic margaritas and a plethora of cheese. My wife is scarily obsessed with their Southwestern Egg Rolls. Denny's also gets my seal of approval for the sheer brass neck of having an entire menu dedicated to bacon, topped with a maple bacon ice-cream sundae. Really, everything I hoped about America is true. I am free to combine savory with sweet, as long as the savory is bacon and the sweet will kill me.



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28 comments
RomoIsAHomo
RomoIsAHomo

You do know that the so called Arby's Roast Beef is not a Roast. It is a combo part of meat made into a loaf. It is cooked and then sliced paper thin. Look at a cut of that so-called roast. See, now you don't see a cut of beef, you see a slice of beef McNugget.

less than a minute agoshare

monstruss
monstruss

get your ass over to the new Chicken Express on Royal and get a #2 with mashed potatoes and half/half tea. That is the taste of freedom.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Lucky am I to have been born long enough ago to have wallowed in the the wonderful comfort food of the old Diners.  Where have they all gone?  Woe....

notsure
notsure

Sorry, if you like Arby's you just lost ALL credibility.  Brought to you by Carl's Jr.  Why?  Because they pay me!

eleventeen
eleventeen

When I was in high school Waffle House used to do an all u can eat from like 2pm to 5pm. we would get blazed and hit it up and were thrown out more than once. gotta love scattered, smothered, and covered.

JustMe
JustMe

Pancakes? Does the sign "Waffle House" mean anything.  Don' think you will find any pancakes here, and besides the Waffles, the best Hash Browns you will find anywhere in the country are always scattered, smothered, covered, diced, chunked, peppered, capped, and topped! Loved you promoting the brand name...

Jenna
Jenna

This guy has jumped the shark.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I am a Waffle House fan.  Having spent many hours on the road, often at late hours, I could always find a nearby Waffle house.  Their chili and eggs may not be haute cuisine or Terlingua quality chili, but it works just fine.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Arbys 5 for $5 is the best time to eat there, otherwise I feel it to be overpriced. Waffle house was da bomb when I was 21 but the occasional moons over my hammy is fun fun story too Gavin! my guess is Gavin has about 5 or 6 more blogs to write for DO before he is moved along

mewkins
mewkins

mmmmm, Arby's Beef and Cheddar brings back memories. I'm so hungry I could eat at Arby's.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Fast food writing without the "I'm too good for this" pretention? Gavin, you're rocketing up my list of favorite Brits.

 

I thought Pret A Manger was seriously awesome when I made my all-to-quick trip to London, and I'm sure it's seen in more or less the same light as you saw our fast food.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

*chuckle*  Waffle House.

 

Once, on a bike trip through Kentucky I had a WH waitress ask me: 'Jliketatersithat?

 

"...ummmm. Whaaaaaaaat?"

J_A_
J_A_

Gavin, I picture you looking/acting like the English fellow in Hall Pass. What a wonderful poem to honor such an establishment, kudos to your wife.

Mervis
Mervis

Another good one Gavin though there are no pancakes at the WAFFLE House. Just sayin. Love the WH though. Especially with a good buzz on.

 

America's Roast Beef, Yes! A place that always sounds better before you eat there. I remember my buddy and I riding our bikes there as kids so we could get those sandwichs for $1 or so. Extra horsey please!

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

got a little choked up reading that last part.....what about Long John Silvers compared to a proper 'chippery'?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

The breakfasts, the pies, the meatloaf, the club sandwiches.....  The waitresses that called you "Honey"...   [Mrs. Katz begins to sob]

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

I was going to tell Gavin he really missed out on the all-you-can-stand back in the earliest of the Nineties..we used to roll through on the way home from the bars and order one of everything.  soup, burger, waffles, omellette, S.S.C. 

 

Good times, and I was young enough it didn't stick to me like it would now.

Mervis
Mervis

 @Jenna

 Jumped the shark has Jumped the shark.

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