HOME > Chowhound > Chains >


Which national chain has the best breakfast?

Is it Denny's?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I love the hash brown casserole from Cracker Barrel. I also like Waffle House and Bob Evans for breakfast. I can do IHOP, but it doesn't "speak" to me.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      I don't really care for Cracker Barrel, but I do love that hashbrown casserole, but what is the deal with the 3 tablespoons of it?!? I've asked for extra and then I get 4 tablespoons!! What does a girl have to do to get a heapin' pile of hashbrowns?!

      1. re: Katie Nell

        This is a very easy dish to make at home, just in case you cook at home, though may be one of those "it-tastes-better-in-the-restaurant" foods...if you ask for the recipe on the Home Cooking board, I'll be glad to post it, I don't think I can post it here.

    2. I once had a great breakfast at an Eat'N Park (the hash brown was to die for), but we got into a fender-bender in the parking lot afterwards so now I feel like it's bad luck to eat there.

      I used to love IHOP, but only the one near my house. They had an excellent short-order cook and no other IHOP has ever come close.

      1. McD's sausage only biscuits. I love their version of hashbrowns as well. When I was driving a cab way back when the McD's on 9th street in the Slope would have all you can eat pancakes for 99 cents on Sundays. They were pretty good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bigmackdaddy

          Luuuuv Mickey D's biscuits. My favorite is the country ham and egg, but you never know which stores will have ham on offer, or if they will discontinue it at some arbitrary time.....

        2. Waffle House. You can't go wrong with their breakfasts with the hasnbrowns.

          If you are looking for something more upscale, I have always enjoyed First Watch, which is in a few states, but expanding.

          1. Cracker Barrel. Biscuits, gravy, eggs and sausage.

            1. Last Denny's breakfast was FOUL! The hashbrowns were the worst! :P

              The last chain that I went that I had a GREAT breakfast was Ihop. I got their Wheat & Nut Pancakes. REALLY good! :)


              1. It's not national and I wish it was.
                Bob Evans Restaurant

                4 Replies
                1. re: Infomaniac

                  Bob Evans isn't national? Are you serious? I thought this place was all over the country? You're not missing that much, really.

                  1. re: Infomaniac

                    Hmmmm, Bob Evans' web site says they have 590 locations throughout the U.S.


                    1. re: ChinoWayne

                      590 locations and none in the New England states.

                      1. re: Infomaniac

                        You've got to go to upstate new york for your Evan's fix

                  2. Mimi's Cafe....the crabcake benedict and their spice muffins....yummy!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ciaogal

                      It's not well known, but Mimi's serves their breakfast menu all day. In the mood for crab cakes benedict at 10 PM? There you go. In my past experience, the dinner cooks are surprisingly good at making the breakfast items.

                      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                        'Cept they won't make pancakes or waffles at night. Everything else seems okay.

                    2. The pancakes at IHOP are usually a pretty safe bet. I consider myself a pancake fiend and actually like them quite a bit. And one out of every five or so Perkins are delish. (But when they're bad, they're spectacularly oh-so-bad.) Used to like Cracker Barrel (yep it's that hashbrown casserole), but their labor politics turned me off completely and I haven't eaten at one in years.

                      1. For sit down i like Perkins. Light pancakes, crispy hash browns.

                        Fast food - Hardee's - great biscuits - good sausage gravy

                        1. I love Denny's pancakes. But most of them tend to undercook their hash browns (as in white and raw) so I always ask for them well done. When they're cooked I love the hash browns, I get them with everything instead of fries.

                          Waffle House's hash browns are awesome, but every one I've ever been in was disgustingly dirty, so I can't stand them anymore.

                          Cracker Barrel has awesome breakfast, for the biscuits if for nothing else.

                          I also love IHOP's Wheat and Nut pancakes, but it seems a little pricey for what you get. *shrug*

                          For drive-thru guilt trips, I love BK's egg and cheese biscuit. Perfectly flaky, salty and greasy. :-P

                          1. The Original Pancake House yummm,....:) :)

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: jes

                              I second OPH! Best, richest and fluffiest pancakes i've ever had. Bacon is thck-cut, and slightly sweet. (at least here in Las Vegas outlets, it is)
                              My issue with them, is that everything is ala carte. (at least my last visit there, it was)

                              The places are clean, and the staff super-friendly. Good coffee, as well.

                              1. re: Honeychan

                                Thirding the OPH love. The only better place to get breakfast is at home (if you're a good cook ;) )

                                1. re: Honeychan

                                  When living in Chicago, I used to eat a OPH quite often. There were at least 4 in the area. Despite its Portland origins, there's only one in the Seattle area, so I don't get there as often now.

                                  I'd like to get their 49ers recipe. They are thin like swedish pancakes, but chewier.

                                  My wife favors their Dutch Baby, though I can make a passable copy at home, since it is basically a sweet Yorkshire Pudding (or large popover). I haven't tried to master the apple version.


                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Yeah, my vote would got to OPH and the Dutch Baby.

                                    While not the best breakfast in the world, but a pretty good one ... in terms of taste ... is at Weinershnitzel.

                                    Got a flyer in the mail for their combo - breakfast burrito, hash browns and coffee for $1.99 ... usual price $2.99.

                                    The burrito is pretty nice ... and large.

                                    What they do is heat the tortilla, put a layer of shredded cheese, make a thin omelette and layer that on top of the cheese and (in my case) two strips of bacon in the center. Then they roll the whole thing up.

                                    What is nice is that these are made to order ... after all who buys breakfast at W ... or even knows it is there.

                                    Oh, tell them no salsa on the burrito. That was the one thing that almost ruined it. It is an awful type like cheap jarred salsa.

                                    The potatoes were like McDonald's ... crispy outside.

                                    Yeah ... coffee ain't their thing ... most don't even sell it and they said the machine was broken would I like instant coffee ... uh, no. So rejecting the first offer of a breakfast Pepsi, I settled on the special promotion Minute Maid strawberry lemonade ... well, ick. WAAAY too sweet.

                                    Nice burritto though. They have it in ham and chili versions. The ad had a bad picture and it looked like the filling was a breakfast burrito with a hot dog in it ... now that would have been something.

                                    They have a few interesting things currently on the menu ... and Italian sausage with fried peppers. They also have pastrami on rye ... or you can get a pastrami burger ... or dog.

                                2. re: jes

                                  We love the apple pancake at OPH, but they seem to be incapable of cooking bacon crisp. I know thick bacon is a little trickier, but we gave up after sending it back twice. Same deal on another occasion at a different branch. Wonder what that's about? Now we just order the pancake and get our crisp bacon fix elsewhere.

                                  1. re: Steve Green

                                    I love OPH -- and their apple pancake -- and their bacon, because I hate crispy bacon.

                                3. I'll probably burn for this, but I LOVE BK sausage Croissandwiches. But Bob Evans isn't bad either.

                                  1. Hardees Ham Biscuit simple but great.

                                    1. My vote goes to Waffle House, particularly because you can get breakfast any time of day. I have a weakness for grits: 2 basted eggs, a couple of strips of crisp bacon and a pile o' grits with a pat of butter and some S&P - that's good stuff. And I love that they're open late. There's a Waffle House just off I-17, between the Phoenix airport and our vacation house. When we arrive around midnight, after a 4-1⁄2 to 5-hour flight from NY, nothing's more satisfying to me.

                                      I know that Cracker Barrel serves grits at breakfast, too, but my experience has been that the texture is inconsistent, depending on the time of day. If you arrive too early in the morning, it can be watery/soupy. If you get there too late, you're likely to get a bowlful of something that's nearly solidified into one impenetrable mass.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Deenso

                                        I agree with Waffle House. Nothing like a pecan waffle and a side of grits! We, too, eat there when we're at our vacation house in Scottsdale. We eat at the one there off of I-17 at Bell Rd. But, if we're heading the other way, we'll hit the one off of I-10 at Baseline. Supposedly there is one around the airport, out by the old Hertz rental center, but that's a rather nasty part of town. Never thought of hitting it when we're coming from the airport (we take the 202 to the 101 up to Pima), but it might be a nice diversion from In and Out Burger for that nighttime arrival dinner!

                                      2. I was in Jacksonville for a football game and we stayed right next to a Waffle House and ate there quite a bit (after drinking all night). Our friends stayed at an upscale hotel near the stadium. Our meals were cheap and tasty. I love grits with my breakfast food that seals the deal for me. Now my buddies who ate at the hotel was paying $12 for a burger, while my meals may have cost a tad over $5 and I think our meals were tastier.

                                        I also like IHOP. I like their crepes and anyplace I can get country fried steak or country fried chicken works for me.

                                        1. I don't eat them anymore, but when I was younger, McD's sausage-egg biscuit was my good luck breakfast ever since eating one before I took the SATs. I also like Chick-fil-a's chicken biscuit ... but almost invariably I eat breakfast at home--organic cold cereal and fruit. Occasionally I stop by a non-chain place in the 'hood for sausage rolls when I'm in a hurry. I never have time to eat a sit-down breakfast at a chain :)

                                          1. Also as a bit of indulgance, I order a McD's saugage McMuffin with egg and an order of hashbrowns. I then put the hasbrown into the sandwich and put some ketchup on top and eat it as one super sandwich. Hmmm, tasty...

                                            1. Carls Jr...Breakfast Burger..1/4 lb burger, bacon, cheese, fried egg, tater tots and catsup, on a toasted bun...$2.69 with tax....

                                              its perfect....

                                              Since they bought Hardees, it might be served there also...

                                              My problem with iHop is ...it IS a breakfast place and they serve fake coffee whitener, not half and half...that is *so* wrong....

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                I gotta disagree about that Carl's Jr. breakfast sandwich, only because of the big hit of calories it should be better


                                                1. re: rworange

                                                  It has all the flavors of breakfast in one bite.

                                                  Once I stopped counting calories and fat content, eating slower/got full faster, drank a bottle of water a day, cut out artifical sweeteners and began walking more daily, I lost 20 lbs in less than 6 months.

                                                  I maintained that loss for 3 months then contined on the same, high fat diet, but increased exercise daily. I am now down almost 50 lbs compared to a year ago.

                                                  Calories don't matter. Flavor does.

                                                  When we were growing up, there were no "diet" foods. We ate tuna in oil, regular milk, some kind of bread and potatoes at every meal, real butter, real sugar and there were very few overweight kids. Kool Aid was a treat, pop was even more of a treat.

                                                  The flavor of the Breakfast Burger is perfect in every bite IMHO.

                                                  1. re: Cathy

                                                    I have not problems with high calorie food laden with stuff I can't pronouce. However, when I'm going for that, it had better taste terrific. There are better ways to waste my calories.

                                                    I was kind of disappointed in the Carl's JR. burger because I really got into french fries incorporated into a sandwich when I was visiting Greece. So I was looking foward to the Carl's Jr. sandwich.

                                                    Did see that someone mentioned adding their home fries to other breakfast sandwiches, but sigh ... no burger.

                                                    I agree calories don't matter. Flavor does. However, for me, for this particular sandwich there was so little flavor that it stunned me. How could it have all that stuff and taste like nothing?

                                                    Wish I could have gotten the taste out of it you did. That was what I was hoping for.

                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                      Ah, as to the extremely thin bacon pieces criss crossed and hanging out of the bun...I fold over so its two double thickness pieces of bacon. Then I get that flavor. The plastic cheese I can do without...

                                              2. I love the Steak Omelette at IHOP, also dig their griddle cakes that are made with Cream of Wheat which I'm addicted to.

                                                I also like the Steak and Egg Burrito at Carl's Jr, however it's not consistent at all locations. One location is huge with juicy steak, another was small and cold. When it's good it's GOOD though.

                                                1. I guess I would have to say Bob Evans. And that pains me. It really does.

                                                  I think IHOP is good, but God help you if you go into an older one. They put up a new one recently near me and the fact that it's new and all clean makes it do-able.

                                                  Waffle House is the ultimate in a greasefest and foul yet to boot. I get, um, an explosive digestion situation when I eat there. It must be what they cook with. (Lard).

                                                  Denny's. Whoa, yeah, there's another situation in which lots of food=delicious food (for some people). "Let's order a super Grand Slam, kids! We'll all be sick as dogs on the way home!" It's the Maggiano's mentality again where more equals better.

                                                  I don't really LOVE any national chain for breakfast. Scary!

                                                  1. Cracker Barrel chicken fried anything w/ biscuits!!! Good for a hangover,too.

                                                    1. Can't believe no one has said this yet:

                                                      CHICK-Fil-A. AMAZING breakfast. You get yourself an egg and cheese and chicken filet sandwich on a southern biscuit at 9 AM? $2.50 later, your mouth is in flavor heaven. With real food, to boot! And if you've got another buck in your pocket and you're feeling saucy, well you can add yourself an OJ to that little party, mister.

                                                      1. People said it before, but I'll say it again, OPH. The swedish pancakes are great, they come with an insane amount of butter, and even the coffee is good. In my opinion the best OPH around is in Chicago - Hyde Park.

                                                        I'd also concur with those who voted in favor of Bob Evans. Nothing like biscuits and seriously heavy gravy first thing in the morning on a road trip.

                                                        1. I agree Eric - Chick-fil-A is the way to go! I like the straigh chicken biscuit - I love how their biscuit is a little bit sweet and how that mingles with the salty chicken. But, I have to differ with you on the OJ. In my opinion, the only perfect addition to a chicken biscuit is a big ol' cup of sweet iced tea! Perfection!

                                                          1. Put me down for another Cracker Barrel vote. When I'm craving biscuits n' gravy or cornbread here up north I go the closest Cracker Barrel. I also love how they serve breakfast all day.

                                                            1. One place I find myself going to much more often than I should for breakfast is the local IKEA. The Swedish pancakes with lingonberries are delicious, and when you can buy a full breakfast for two (scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries, swedish pancakes, and coffee!) for less than a single latte at Starbucks, what's not to like?

                                                              1. I wonder why there isn't a Cracker Barrel in California? or a Tim Horton's for those donut/muffin days? Dang.

                                                                1. I have to place a vote for Bob Evans for breakfast. I am from Ohio and I was a sophomore in college until I realized that Bob Evans was mostly a Midwest chain. I have seen them outside the Midwest, but its very rare. IHOP is over-rated, but a safe bet when traveling.

                                                                  I know I will possibly be banned from the board for saying it but Micky Dee's has probably the best fast food coffee. I would not feed their burgers to a death row inmate, but McD's are likely to be open at all hours and the coffee is strong, always fresh and reasonably priced.

                                                                  1. I am not sure how widespread the franchis is, but my family likes the ORIGINAL PANCAKE HOUSE, this is not to be confused with IHOP.

                                                                    Original has the best coffee and thick slices of bacon.

                                                                    1. I like Cracker Barrels biscuts with apple butter.

                                                                      1. I haven't been to denny's in ages.The few times I do go out for breakfast,it's been to the IHOP in Live Oak.It really gets crowded on the weekends.At work we have on there for brunch,like at Christmas time and have had good luck with the food.

                                                                        1. Waffle House.
                                                                          Pecan Waffle.
                                                                          Eggs over easy.
                                                                          Hash Browns, Scattered and Smothered.

                                                                          1. I'll cast a vote for Original Pancake House. I always get that monster apple pancake and don't have to eat for the rest of the day.

                                                                            Bob Evans is pretty good too. They have plenty of choices in both the sweet and savory columns. OPH has better coffee, though.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Bob W

                                                                              You are absolutly right about the coffee. We sometimes by the beans to go when we are there.

                                                                            2. I'm still waiting for a vote for Eggspectation...NOT!

                                                                              We just got one here in Chantilly VA, and I must say, the value is just not there. The food is ordinary and the prices are not cheap.

                                                                              The decor is very nice, and our twins loved the open kitchen, but you can't eat decor or open kitchens.