“I don’t care what they think. I don’t care what they say. What do they know about this love anyway?” –Melissa Etheridge
In 1955, something wonderful happened in the state of Georgia: the very first Waffle House opened. Its concept wasn’t anything all that new or unique – serve up cheap, hot food at all hours of the day with quickness and efficiency – but there’s just something about those friendly yellow buildings that brings a smile to my face. I can’t count the hours I’ve spent sitting in a Waffle House booth with a plate of hash browns and a bottomless cup of coffee, whether in the wee hours of the morning after a long night of festivities or as a place to have a leisurely Saturday morning breakfast. For those of you who came to this story expecting me to perhaps rip on the Waffle House or approach it with some sort of hipster sarcasm, I’ve got to say with no apology: I love the Waffle House without a shred of irony.
For a place with the word “waffle” in the name, you might expect that to be the most popular thing at Waffle House, but I figure it’s the hash browns most people come in to eat. That plate to the right is my favorite way to eat them; covered with a slice of neon orange American cheese, smothered with diced onions, and cooked with diced tomatoes. As a younger man, I would occasionally order my hash browns “all the way,” but I value my health a touch more these days. I like to order my hash browns with a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, and the Benton Waffle House fries bacon about the best of any location I’ve been to. This isn’t a breakfast a body should eat every day, but it’s a fine and tasty indulgence for an occasional weekend treat.
Waffles, of course, are still an important part of the menu, and Jess is a big fan of the pecan variety. I like Waffle House waffles because they aren’t the thick, doughy Belgian-style waffles that tend to be a little too filling. These waffles are thin and light, allowing you to get that perfect balance of waffle, syrup, and butter (or, to be honest here, margarine) that makes for a perfect bite every time. Each waffle covers an entire plate, and it can be tough to finish one if you’re having anything on the side. Jess ordered hers with some hash browns and cheese eggs, and unlike some locations that just throw a slice of cheese on top of scrambled eggs, the Benton Waffle House does them right, scrambling the eggs with the cheese so that every bite is consistently gooey and delicious.
My favorite thing about the Benton location of the Waffle House is the folks that work there. This is easily the friendliest, most attentive staff I’ve ever seen at any location. The folks on the morning shift know most of their regulars by name, and they make sure that you’ve always got a fresh cup of coffee and that your food is cooked the way you like it. From the moment we hit the door, we were greeted by several people calling out, “Good Morning!” and that set the tone for the rest of the meal. The servers and cooks seemed like they really knew how to work together to get orders cooked and served, all the while keeping up friendly banter with customers and making sure everything was just right. I can honestly say that the service at the Benton Waffle House is equal to (and some cases exceeds) any of the restaurants we’ve reviewed here on Arkansas Foodies. It’s our favorite Waffle House, so if it’s been awhile since you ate at one, stop by the Benton restaurant – just don’t play any Waffle House songs on the juke. Enjoy!
Waffle House in Benton is located at 1215 Hot Springs Highway, just off the Sevier St. exit, and they are open all the time with a full menu.