John and Herb McEwen initially named their eatery McEwen's Fried Chicken when they opened in 1949, but the name didn't stick. According to the San Antonio Express-News, they wanted people to know their soda shop sold food, everyone in the neighborhood still called the spot "the malt house." Voted best neighborhood restaurant by Express-News readers, the restaurant continues to serve the creamy malts that became its namesake. The menu abounds with all-American favorites such as burgers, juicy fried chicken, and fried fish served with coffee cups of tartar sauce for dipping or for playing a prank on unwitting coworkers. Chefs prepare flour tortillas in-house to add a more authentic flavor to Mexican dishes such as the Machacado plate, a medley of sun-dried meat, serrano peppers, onions, and tomato.
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.