We slept like a baby the first night in Washington DC. We had no idea how tired we really were. We were well rested … well … except that Suanne woke up with a stiff neck. The pillows she selected at the hotel were too soft for her.
We had a real early start. That second day in DC is what we call the “museum day”. Our plan is to cover the places and sights along the National Mall east of the Washington Monument. We planned on also visiting the White House.
While trying to get our bearing outside the hotel, a tourism ambassador of sort approached us asking if we needed help. I was really impressed even though Suanne and I looked every part a lost tourist. We said we just wanted to find a place for breakfast and she promptly said that we should head to a place called The Waffle House just across from Ford’s Theatre, the place where Abraham Lincoln was shot. Sounds like a great idea.
The Waffle House, located on 504 10th St NW, is just a short walk from our hotel. It was quite an interesting place to say the least. There is a newspaper clipping from The Washington Post pasted outside the window that says:
Legend has it that Mr Lincoln really wanted to dine here that bad night, but the missus refused to sit on stools that swivel, so they went to the theater across the street instead …
I thought it was kind of funny. Actually the article did not say which “Mr Lincoln” and everyone just assumed that it was Abe they were referring to.
Their breakfast special was quite interesting. This is exactly the kind of place we wanted for breakfast … wow, scrapple! That is until we went in … and was kind of disappointed that it’s not exactly a waffle place but looks like they are owned by Chinese.
They do serve both American style home cook food and also Chinese American food.
We had coffee and hot chocolate. They came is small cups, much smaller than I am used to. It was alright … nothing to shout about.
Since this place is called The Waffle House, we ordered a waffle. There is nothing special about this anyway. It’s just waffle.
Have you guys heard of Scrapple before? I had not. I ordered that simply because it is something I had never heard of before. Apparently this is a regional food native to this part of the world. I bet no one in the west coast knows what a Scrapple is.
Scrapple sounds good but the description is nasty. It is basically sausage with pork scraps like liver, head, heart and what nots! Yup, the parts of meat leftover from butchering. Well, they take these and mush it into a loaf.
How was it? It looked nasty and it tasted nasty. Maybe if they did not describe it that way, I might have thought it was good. Suanne refuse to try a bite of it. Sorry guys, we were from Canada.
[hmmm … on second thoughts, I should not have said it’s nasty because Chinese dig this kind of food too!]
Suanne stuck with a normal breakfast and opted for the Grilled Chicken, 2 Eggs and Home Fries. It was great and filling. We wanted to have a big breakfast and just snack through lunch and so this is just perfect.
We love especially the Homestyle Fries. I had never seen fries made this way before but they are like hash browns. They made it crispy.
Suanne’s breakfast came with toasts too.
It was fun eating here. The owner is very chatty and funny. Knowing that we’re tourists he asked us a lot questions and we had a great time. Oh, this is not a tourist joint … far from it. We see almost all their customers are locals which makes it kind of ideal for us.
Total came up to $21 including tips. Oh yeah … we were mindful that here in the US, they tip 15% … not 10% like we do in Canada. LOL!
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Looks like the tourism ambassador referred you to somewhere they are associated or affiliated with. Hotel concierge or tourism ambassador, whatever, they are usually bribed to give restaurants referral. Sorry you got no luck dining in Washington DC. It’s always hard for out of towners. If you don’t know anybody local, someone not working in tourism industry, it’s hard to find places to go to.
The rules are very different in US and Canada.
In Canada, corporate or chain restaurants are usually over priced and lame, bad food, bad service. In US, corporate restaurants provide consistency in terms of service and food, it’s well priced with good value, very satisfying portion and OK decor (it should be clean enough and you should sit comfortably; some stores might be nice to look at). I am talking about a sit down dining place not drive-through fast food kind.
In Vancouver, some private owned small restaurant or mom and pop, whatever you call it, can actually give you decent food & good value. In US, mom and pop shops usually mean no decor, a lot of hits and misses in terms of food. They are beat up pretty bad by corporate restaurants.
Many people traveling within the States prefer to stick with corporate restaurants especially when they are too staving to have a bad meal. There are times you just want some solid food and you just don’t want to play the hits and misses game.
Actually, The Waffle Shop is a dc institution, and that’s why you were referred there. The owners for the last two decades are Vietnamese, not Chinese. Scrapple has been on the menu for longer than that. Scrapple is a regional food which has nothing to do with Vietnamese cuisine; in fact, its roots are in a German dish.
The Waffle Shop has been around since about the fifties. The original building, which it was in until the end of 2006 or so, was awesome, and an excellent example of Doo Wop architecture. They were pushed out of the lease, and nearly had to close altogether. The restaurant is running, but things aren’t quite all sorted out yet in the new location. It’s one of the few places in dc, especially in that area, where you can get a decent breakfast for a low price. Combine that with seating at a zig zag bar instead of tables (which forces people to interact or at least acknowledge each other), the fact that it’s independently owned and operated, the familiarity, and the history of the restaurant, and you’ve got a good deal. You’re right – it’s not a tourist joint.
CG got it right. They are friendly and very helpful. The food is very good and the menu extensive. They cater to everyone and have a very, very loyal following that now includes me (even though I am from Maine). Great Place!
Scrapple: Actually a Pennsylvania Dutch food. It has the meat scraps and cornmeal. Eat it in eastern PA at a diner if you want to see what it is supposed to taste like. It should be golden brown — yours looks burnt.
Normal breakfast: Grilled chicken? That’s not a normal American breakfast by any stretch.
US Chain vs. Local: I disagree with Monica, above. The chains ARE uniform and overall, pretty good. A bonus with chain restaurants is that you can get gift cards and things if you have a bad experience and write it. BUT there are lots and lots of great locally owned restaurants that are not beat up bad by corporate places. You just need to read Yelp, Urban Spoon, the local paper, watch Diners Drive Ins and Dives or Anthony Bourdain etc. to find a good spot.
Don’t go by the old “If truck drivers eat there it must be good” recommendation…