The first IHOP—the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin—opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
The city of Independence, situated 5 miles east of Kansas City, was the defined starting point of the Oregon Trail. The frontier city boomed as its businesses outfitted pioneers for their journey west in the mid-19th century. Independence Square, a half-mile from Woodstock Inn, was a meeting place for groups getting ready to head out on the trail as well as for streetwise software programmers hoping to adapt the experience into a computer game. Today, restored storefronts dot the square, including several top-notch restaurants and a soda fountain where Harry S Truman—a native of Independence—once worked.Artifacts and journals from settlers heading west are on display at the National Frontier Trails Museum. At some of the exhibits, visitors can listen to recordings of voice actors who bring the stories of the pioneers to life. The inn is also situated about six miles from the Kansas City Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium, and for abundant shopping and dining, guests can take a short drive to downtown Kansas City.
Denise Ward grew up nourished by soul food that her mother skillfully prepared. After learning to prepare the same recipes herself, she dreamed of sharing them with other people. That?s why she and her husband, Perry, opened a soul food caf? in 1985, naming it Niecies Restaurant. In 2006, they expanded to a second location.
In the early hours, cooks grill pork chops for breakfast sandwiches and prepare signature plates such as the Sunrise Breakfast, which The Pitch asserts, ?may be the best way to start any morning.? Later in the day, plates of fried catfish and barbecue brisket share table space with bowls of beef stew more comforting to stomachs than teddy bears eaten whole. Homespun desserts such as peach cobbler sweeten palates.
The food gets served in a comfy diner-style setting. Thickly padded booths line two long rows of front windows, and diner stools prop up guests at the counter?in case they want to reenact scenes from their favorite road-trip movie, such as Ben-Hur. Floral wallpaper hangs cozily over wood-trim wainscoting, and plates of pancakes can be seen on the shelf between the kitchen and the dining area for that fleeting instant before servers whisk them off to tables.
Early risers swoop to Succotash for a burrito of love (a buttermilk pancake wrapped around scrambled eggs, two strips of bacon, and cheddar cheese, $6.95), cake and a smile (smiley face of two eggs sunnyside-up and a bacon mouth atop a buttermilk pancake), or Count of Monte Delicious (Black Forest ham and Derby sage cheddar triple-stacked between layers of Hawaiian french toast, with home fries, $7.95) from the breakfast menu. If you're still asleep dreaming of steel children and living motorcycles between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., catch culinary action with a quick cheese and seasonal fruit plate ($7), cup of tomato bisque ($2.95), heartwarming smoked-gouda and artichoke-heart sandwich on grilled sourdough ($7.25), or heart-beefing roast-beef sandwich ($8.25). No breakfast or brunch is complete without a fresh-squeezed glass of orange juice (large, $3.75) or steaming mug of Café du Monde coffee ($1.50), and you can always get a $1 side of gravy to pour over your meal or dining pal's shoes.
The Filling Station independently serves locally roasted espresso and coffee and a scrumptious selection of breakfast and lunch bites in a garage-themed café. Browse the Union Hill menu for the Filling Station's caffeinated concoctions, with espresso roasted from Broadway Café and Roastery and coffee from Oddly Correct Coffee Roasters. For breakfast, the Filling Station offers a plethora of baked goods, from blackberry peach muffins ($1.80) to freshly baked cinnamon rolls ($2.25). Lunchtime brings the killer veggie wrap ($7.50), packed with spinach, tomato, onion, carrots, and more. The Westport menu is more compact, but you can still pick up an apple walnut Danish ($2.50) or almond marzipan croissant ($2.50) in the drive-thru before heading out to hunt the evasive galloping fig tree.
French Bistro Cuisine | Seasonal Ingredients | Exotic Meats
Inside Tip: Check the restaurant's Facebook page to learn about special events. These include nights when local DJs spin as well as an annual Bastille Day celebration, which complements dinners with a variety show that incorporates everything from Les Misérables parodies to silent periods for existential contemplation.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Explore musical history at the American Jazz Museum (1616 E. 18th Street), where exhibits blend commissioned art and sculpture with listening stations and custom mixing boards.
After: Sip one of 80 draft beers while taking in an independent or classic flick at the Screenland Armour (408 Armour Road).