It was a beautiful October day. The sun was shining, temperatures were finally dropping, and finally – FINALLY – the sky was turning that gorgeous Carolina blue.
It was as nice day for a White Wedding, and we were on our way!
(CALM DOWN, this wasn’t MY wedding we were heading to! It was the wedding of a dear friend. It was also a Halloween wedding, guests were attending in costume, AND the reception would be entirely vegan! Wild horses couldn’t drag me away from this one!)
But, First, A Stop At Waffle House
Because no road trip would be complete without a stop at Waffle House!
Waffle House Is Convenient. There are Waffle Houses littered all over the sides of the highways – some 2,100 at last count. There’s also usually one located near Red Roof Inns, which is where we usually stay because of the furbabies.
Waffle House Is Open 24/7. So if you’re heading out on the road early or driving late, you can always find food.
Waffle House Is “Safe.” Sure, there are a few in sketchy areas, and if you go to the inner city ones (as opposed to those along the highway) the joint can be filled with drunk club kids trying to sober up on grease. But the little yellow restaurant itself is brightly lit, with friendly servers, and serves no booze. They are usually suprisingly clean – appreciated because usually when we stop at one, a bathroom break is in order.
Two Words: Hash Browns
Quick – what is the #1 all-time seller at Waffle House?
You’re probably thinking waffles. Or maybe bacon.
It’s HASH BROWNS. As of the time I’m writing this, Waffle House has sold 1,800,286,157 orders of hash browns since opening in 1955 and they sell an estimated 238 orders of hash browns EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE.
The hash browns are delicious and vegan-friendly!
Here’s How You Do It:
Choose your size – regular, large, or triple. Since hash browns are pretty much going to be your entire meal, I’d recommend large for the ladies and men who aren’t very hungry, and triple for the rest of the men and those with hearty appetites.
Understand the Waffle House slang. “Scattered” is just how they cook it on the grill. (You’ll never have to say the word “scattered” yourself, but you may hear your waitperson say it). We order our hash browns:
- Smothered (grilled onions)
- Diced (grilled tomatoes)
- Peppered (jalapeno peppers – hey, this chain did originate in the South)
- Capped (grilled mushrooms)
So, if I order “large hash browns, smothered, diced, peppered, and capped” the waitperson will holler, “Large scattered, smothered, diced, peppered, and capped!”
Once the order arrives, take a look at the assortment of bottles sitting on your table – a variety of hot sauces and steak sauce. I usually add some picante sauce and ALWAYS some tobasco sauce – heaven!
I typically order coffee – I can drink it black, although usually when traveling I carry small aseptic bottles of almond or soy milk with me. Sometimes, in the mornings, I will order orange juice.
What Else Is Vegan At Waffle House?
Sadly, not much. You can order unbuttered toast with an assortment of little jelly packets. Or you can order a garden salad without the cheese. I’m not sure why you would want to, though. Not that there is anything wrong with the toast or salad, there’s just so much that is right with the hash browns.
What About Cross Contamination?
Cross contamination is becoming a bigger and bigger issue with new vegans and the Vegan Police lately.
My stance is that I’m vegan for the animals, my health, and the environment – not for reasons of personal purity.
I also live in the “real world.” There is always going to be a risk of cross-contamination, unless you eat only food you cook yourself and dine only at vegan restaurants. (You run a risk of cross-contamination even at veg restaurants like Fern, Flavors from the Garden and Jyoti’s World Cuisine – because there is still dairy used.)
My personal observation after eating at literally dozens of Waffle Houses throughout the country is that hash browns are cooked on a different part of the grill than the meat and eggs (sometimes a separate grill) and they keep the grills pretty clean. I’ve never had hash browns with any discernable meat flavor, and I have never, ever, found stray bits of meat or cheese in my food. Which is more than I can say for Chipotle – I stopped ordering sofritas there a long time ago because of the chunks of chicken and dollops of dairy I kept finding in my supposedly vegan meal.
However, if you are really concerned, you can always opt to sit at the counter, where you can watch your order being prepared.