Both IHOP and Waffle House came into the American scene in the 1950s and comparisons between the two have been going on since then. Both chains, of course, offer breakfast items that Americans have come to love, especially pancakes and waffles drizzled in maple syrup and topped with whipped cream, fresh fruit slices, and candied bacon.
Their menus have also changed through the years as a response to the public’s increasing concern for food safety and healthy ingredients. But if you’re looking for a low-calorie meal or snack, then we suggest going elsewhere. IHOP and Waffle House food aren’t exactly favorites among health and fitness nuts – these restaurants are more suitable for indulging in classic American fare.
The IHOP Culture
When you first walk into an IHOP, your first impression will likely be that it has the quintessential New York-style diner vibe. The contemporary décor, which tends to be minimalist, is characterized by air interiors and bright lighting, as well as plush tables and chairs. There’s a family-friendly vibe here with groups of families and friends enjoying their breakfast, lunch, or dinner so be prepared for quite a crowd at any time of the day.
Fortunately, the staff members are fast on their feet so your orders are delivered to your table within 15-30 minutes depending on the crowd. Everybody seems so friendly and efficient – refilling your glass, asking about your food, and thanking you for your patronage are always done with a sincere smile.
Even the music played from the loudspeakers reflect the modern atmosphere with its diverse playlist from classic rock to pop, R&B, and contemporary songs.
Pancakes and waffles are IHOP’s specialties and, no offense to grandmothers everywhere, are the best in the country. Made from premium ingredients, these round and square goodness are fluffy, airy and creamy on their own. But pancakes and waffles aren’t, well, pancakes and waffles without the toppings and IHOP definitely has a smorgasbord of toppings to choose from – butter and maple syrup, sliced fruits like strawberries and blueberries, whipped cream, and fruit jams.
The menu includes pancakes with innovative names like New York Cheesecake Pancakes, Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity Pancakes, Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Red Velvet Pancakes, and New Fluffy The Snowman Pancakes. Be sure to leave your dietary inhibitions at the door since you’re likely to eat everything on your plate.
For people looking for healthier fare, IHOP can also be a good place to go. There are healthy food on the Simple and Fit menu with breakfast combos like Two-Egg Breakfast, which has whole wheat toast, scrambled eggs made with an egg substitute, and turkey bacon. Think of the meals as getting your indulgent breakfast and eating it, too, sans the guilt.
The Waffle House Way
The Waffle House is a different animal, so to speak, than IHOP. Here, the minimalist décor has been taken in a more literal manner with little decoration on the walls although the friendly atmosphere and bright lighting offsets it. Where IHOP has a citified feel, Waffle House has a more countrified feel – think of small town America and that’s what you will get.
But the countrified feel has its advantages, too. The staff members, for one thing, are more attentive without being obnoxious, usually asking diners about their food, even asking the regulars about their families. Waffle House has a motto – Good Food Fast – and it rings true in its restaurants with the good food served promptly.
In many Waffle House locations, the music comes from a jukebox, which customers can operate. The result is a more spontaneous playlist with most of the songs being country music with a spattering of college fight songs. There’s a sense of community that develops from the music so Waffle House locations seem like a community hub for outsiders.
The menu is divided into two categories – breakfast and lunch/dinner. The choices include salads, chili, melts, and burgers, as well as wraps and sandwiches. The burgers can be customized according to your preference.
We recommend the steaks, such as the sirloin, T-bone steak, and rib-eye steak, which are surprisingly good despite Waffle House not being a steakhouse. You may also want to try the Texas Angus Patty Melt and the Texas Melts because these are so good.
The pancakes and waffles are delicious, too, with creamy and rich quality, just as you likely prefer them. The toppings are just as varied so there’s always the chance that your pancakes and waffles will remind you of home and childhood.
Between IHOP and Waffle House, which one is better overall? We have to say that it’s IHOP because of its more varied menu, more citified atmosphere, and more delicious food. But it’s only our opinion so we expect our valued readers to have their opinions, too, both agreeing and disagreeing with ours.