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The Most Underrated Chain Restaurant in America

If you've never been to Waffle House, you're missing out.

When you hear "chain restaurants," you probably think of Applebee's and Chili's, or maybe fast-food chains like McDonald's and Burger King. But Southerners know there's one chain restaurant that stands above the rest: Waffle House.

From helping people understand the severity of natural disasters with the Waffle House Index to providing late-night meals to everyone from college students to truck drivers, Waffle House is an American institution. The chain is open 24/7, even on holidays (and yes, this writer has enjoyed Christmas dinner at Waffle House). And any Southerner who's had to defend Waffle House to Northerners who haven't eaten there before knows that it's wildly underrated.

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Waffle House serves way more than breakfast

Waffle house georgia
Waffle House/Facebook

Yes, the signature waffles are great, especially with chocolate chips or peanut butter added to the batter. But anyone who's had their praise for Waffle House met with someone saying "Oh, I like IHOP" knows that the two chains have nothing in common.

In addition to the Breakfast Favorites section, with waffles and those world-famous hashbrowns, Waffle House's menu features lunch and dinner options like burgers, Texas cheesesteaks, and even T-bone steak dinners. My personal favorite order? Head to Waffle House with a friend and split one waffle and one cheesesteak for the best of both worlds.

Whether you're at Waffle House for breakfast, brunch, or dinner, there's sure to be a meal that fits your cravings. (Well, unless you're craving a plate of fresh vegetables, although there is a salad section of the Waffle House menu, too.)

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Waffle House's price points are dirt-cheap

waffle house menu
Eric Glenn/Shutterstock

One major reason Waffle House is an underrated chain is how affordable everything is. You could easily eat at Waffle House for under $10 a person, even if you're ordering meat-based dishes and beverages to go with your meal.

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Your food will arrive at your table in record speed

waffle house waffle on plate with butter pat

Waffle House is often faster than a drive-thru or a fast-casual spot, even though it's a place where servers come to your table. And you'll get to watch the cooking process in action—the kitchen is in the same spot as the dining room. There's nothing like seeing your waffle batter en route to the waffle maker or watching your eggs cook on the grill pan.

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The hash browns are a must-order at Waffle House

Waffle house scattered, smothered, covered, and chunked hashbrowns facebook
Waffle House/Facebook

These aren't the fried hashbrown patties you'll find at McDonald's or in your local grocery store freezer. Waffle House's hashbrowns are "scattered on the grill," then topped with your favorite vegetables and meats. Ordering the hash browns is just plain fun, too: You get to tell your server you want them "diced" with tomatoes or "smothered" with onions. If you wanted to, you could order hash browns "all the way" and just eat that as your meal.

Waffle House has the friendliest servers in the game

Waffle house sign

As delicious as Waffle House's food is, the real star of the restaurant chain is its employees. Everyone from the cooks to the servers seems to be smiling at Waffle House, and it's common for staff to hold lengthy conversations with diners. You'll feel like a part of the family at Waffle House, which is what makes it such a Southern gem.

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Meghan De Maria
Meghan De Maria is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food, product, and restaurant coverage. Read more about Meghan