Waffle Shop Showdown
Everyone knows that there’s only one place to get a delicious handmade breakfast that’s lightning fast to boot: The Waffle Shop. What you might not know is that there are three Waffle Shops to choose from: West College, East College, and Atherton. Well I’m going to let you all in on a townie secret that most people don’t know — one of these things is not like the other.
That’s right. One of the Waffle Shops is an impostor. The Waffle Shop located downtown on East College Avenue is not, in fact, a part of the original Waffle Shop chain. It used to be, but the owner sold the location along with the name. Although, personally, it’s a bit hard not to be biased when you’ve visited a certain establishment for 21 years, there are pros and cons to both the real and the fake Waffle Shops.
The REAL Waffle Shop:
Extremely fast service: You can tell when people are from out of town, because they balk at the length of the line and immediately turn back to their car. Sometimes a townie will tell them it goes really fast but they’ll just laugh and drive away. Well the joke’s actually on them, because I don’t think I’ve ever waited longer than 15 minutes to get seated at the Waffle Shop. They’ve been doing this for a while folks; turning tables is their specialty. Once you get seated you can take your time, but if you really want to you can be in and out in about 15-20 minutes.
Everything is homemade: From the muffins to the corned beef hash, almost everything at the Original Waffleshop is made on site. Even the orange juice is freshly squeezed.
HOMEFRIES: The Waffle Shop homefries are the best damn homefries I’ve ever had. Honestly though, any time I get homefries anywhere else I know going in that they aren’t going to live up to the expectations that the Waffle Shop has placed in my head. To illustrate here’s what you normally get when you ask for homefries at a diner…
Pale. Dry. Thick and undercooked. Probably frozen. Now here’s what you get when you ask for homefries at the Waffle Shop…
Note the coloring: perfectly golden brown and crispy. The potatoes are thinly sliced for even cooking, and cooked with a generous amount of oil, onions, salt, and pepper. No bland and dry potatoes here no sir. They also leave the skins on, which (to me) is the best part. If you’re feeling daring, order them extra cripsy, you won’t be disappointed I promise.
Blueberry muffin sliced and grilled: This is a bonafide townie secret but I’m going to let you guys in on it. Next time you order the muffin, asked for it “sliced and grilled”. It’s like the best french toast you can imagine combined with a fresh warm blueberry muffin. You’re welcome.
Unlimited coffee: At the Waffle Shop your coffee cup never runs dry. I usually end up walking out with enough of a caffeine buzz to get me through the next two days, as it’s impossible to keep track of your cup total when it’s constantly being refilled (not that I’m complaining, let it flow).
Delightful wait staff: Most of the waitresses have worked at the Waffle Shop ever since I started going as a baby. If you go often they recognize you and sometimes meet you at the table with your preferred drink all ready to go. It’s kind of like being served by a family member only there aren’t any ugly confrontations about who stole the last slice of bacon.
Cheap food, giant portions: During the week you can get 2 eggs, 2 strips of bacon or sausage, 2 slices of toast, and an order of homefries or two pancakes for under $4. It’s the dream of any college student (or Ron Swanson).
Cash only: It’s a pain in the ass.
Sometimes the giant portions are a bit much: I mean sometimes I just can’t finish three potatoes worth of homefries ya feel me?
….annnnnnd that’s it.
One of the biggest problems is that sometimes they give you too much food (and let’s be honest I can totally deal with that).
The FAKE Waffleshop
Location: The fake Waffleshop is directly downtown right next to McClanahan’s, a prime location if I’ve ever seen one. It’s perfect for stuffing your face before walking to the game, or meeting up with friends in between class to satisfy your breakfast food craving.
Peanut. Butter. Pancakes: One of the rare items that you can only find at the fake Waffle Shop that I wish the real one had.
Not as fast: The service isn’t slow, it’s just not as fast as the real Waffle Shop.
Still cash only: ‘Nuff said.
Homefries: They just aren’t the same.
Not as many things are homemade: Not making everything from scratch isn’t that big of a deal, but in certain things you can tell the difference. The real Waffle Shop’s corned beef hash blows the fake Waffle Shop’s out of the water.
It’s just not the real thing: You can tell when a restaurant is riding the coattails of another one and failing. The fake Waffle Shop isn’t bad in any sense, it just isn’t as good as the Original.
Although I would gladly eat at each and every one of these Waffle Shops, the Original still holds a special place in my heart. Which Waffle Shop is your favorite?
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About the Author
Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal, and Anthony Cassar all finished the NCAA Championships atop the podium for Penn State wrestling.
“Whatever I can do to help Penn State and give back, that’s the mission.”
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