No Waffle House in NJ
Love love love Waffle House! The best hash browns which you can get many different ways (with onions, chili, cheese, etc., or any combination thereof). They also have grits, which can be dolled up as well. The food preparation is always in plain sight, and the ordering lingo is part of the schtick - their bread/toast selection isn't great, but I'd rather fill up on the other stuff anyway...
They're small, cramped, run-down, and located in very rough neighborhoods with the clientele to match. And yet, they're fantastic. The food is simple, cheap, and delicious, and you're guaranteed to leave with a good story or two.
Here's my favorite WH story: I was at a Waffle House in a tough section of Jacksonville, FL, and a regular customer asked one of the waitresses, a woman who definitely looked like she came from the school of hard knocks, how her daughter was. The woman said she was fine, when the daughter, a girl who couldn't have been more than 16 or 17, came in. "And how's YOUR daughter?" the customer asked the girl.
"Fine. She's starting school soon, " the girl replied. Check, please.
Seriously, I don't see Waffle House expanding into the Northeast anytime soon. The real estate prices are too high and the chain is too "down home" for us uppity Yankees.
But if they do, I'll be first on line, with one hand on my wallet and the other on some type of self-defense item. Gimme them hash browns!
WH is great. Can't imagine living somewhere they don't exist. Why is expansion into NJ a safe assumption?
I have 2 in my area of PA. Breakfast there is pretty poor, but they do make mediocre grits, which is better than no grits. Surprisingly, my favorite item is a greasy cheeseburger with fries. Not even close to gourmet burger, but more like a greasy spoon burger from my youth.
I bring my own butter for the waffles instead of the spread. There are almost 600,000 locations on the 350 mile Houston to New Orleans trek, which is a brutal trip except for the long bridges over swamps in Louisiana, and Waffle House of course!! You want Waffle House, trust me.