Hollis Johnson

Everyone knows Waffle House.

Driving along the interstate in the southern United States, the simple block letters emblazoned on iconic yellow signs tower over the landscape, beckoning to all travelers. However, the shabby and unassuming exteriors do little to instill confidence in the culinary abilities therein.

Waffle House is often known as the late-night haunt of those who are not of sober minds — the last resort of drunken revelers and bleary-eyed workers searching for a bite before the sun rises.

It’s easy to write off Waffle House. However, on a recent trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, we decided to give it a shot — not drunk, not high, just hungry.

Waffle House was founded in 1955 by Tom Forkner and Joe Rogers in Atlanta, Georgia. Today, the chain has over 1,800 locations in 25 states. As with most Waffle Houses, the outside appearance wasn’t much to look at — but we were more interested in what’s inside.

Waffle House was founded in 1955 by Tom Forkner and Joe Rogers in Atlanta, Georgia. Today, the chain has over 1,800 locations in 25 states. As with most Waffle Houses, the outside appearance wasn't much to look at — but we were more interested in what's inside.
Hollis Johnson

Inside, Waffle House has a classic diner feel. Subway tiles, vinyl booths, and the ubiquitous jukebox lend a comforting timelessness. The chain avoids jumping on the latest dining trends — no raw wood or industrial lighting fixtures here.

Inside, Waffle House has a classic diner feel. Subway tiles, vinyl booths, and the ubiquitous jukebox lend a comforting timelessness. The chain avoids jumping on the latest dining trends — no raw wood or industrial lighting fixtures here.
Hollis Johnson

The walls are dotted with greasy-spoon-style diner decor, with signs hawking the chain’s titular menu item.

The walls are dotted with greasy-spoon-style diner decor, with signs hawking the chain's titular menu item.
Hollis Johnson

At first glance, the menu seems overwhelming, but in fact, it’s comprised of a handful of diner classics with the option to customize as one desires.

At first glance, the menu seems overwhelming, but in fact, it's comprised of a handful of diner classics with the option to customize as one desires.
Hollis Johnson

We could hear the food sizzling on the griddle as we cozied into our booth. We could have even hopped the side and poured the waffle batter ourselves — our waitress didn’t have to leave the kitchen to take our order and deliver it steaming hot.

We could hear the food sizzling on the griddle as we cozied into our booth. We could have even hopped the side and poured the waffle batter ourselves — our waitress didn't have to leave the kitchen to take our order and deliver it steaming hot.
Hollis Johnson

Our order was a fair sampling of the menu: an “All-Star Breakfast” special, which includes a waffle with…