Connected by an asphalt web of highways, state roads, and thoroughfares, blocky yellow signs gleam nonstop, casting a dandelion glow from the words “Waffle House.” The booths at the eateries fill 24 hours each day with the aromas of sizzling pork chops, Jimmy Dean sausage, and endless mugs of coffee. Line cooks brown shredded potatoes on a grill as waiters shout back in a language all their own for hash browns “smothered,” “covered,” or “topped”—served with onions, cheese, or chili, respectively. Angus burgers and steak melts share space on the rippling-hot surface at all times of day, allowing tired drivers to stop for food when they are on a long journey or just listening to an 11-hour drum solo on the radio. The first Waffle House switched on its lights in 1955, and some menu items still bear the names of Waffle House staff of the past, including Bert's chili from Dallas and Alice's iced tea.
Colonel Eure opened his first pizza restaurant in 1964 and when time came to open another franchise five years later, he named it Gatti's Pizza in honor of his wife's maiden name. The Gatti's Pizza empire steadily expanded over the next four decades, thanks in part to a commitment to high-quality ingredients such as real cheese, yeast-risen dough made fresh daily, and a 16-ingredient secret sauce protected by Swiss bankers. Today, chefs prepare specialty pies such as the barbecue chicken and bacon double cheeseburger pizza and bake custom creations from a choice of 17 toppings and three crust options. Many Gatti's locations boast a dining room complete with a big-screen TV, and some include a Veggie Tales room, a sports room, and a game room.
The Spaghetti Shop's chefs pair the long noodles with classic toppings, including marinara and meatballs, as well as with more unique toppings, including barbecue sauce. They also pop the noodles in the oven for gooey spaghetti bakes. Whatever spaghetti or specialty pasta dish patrons order at the restaurant, they can sop up the accompanying sauce with unlimited pieces of housemade garlic bread.
The chefs also send out their pasta dishes, garlic bread, and gourmet fudge brownies to weddings or corporate and private events, and they offer takeout meals perfect for a family dinner that's quick and tasty, unlike a partially defrosted bag of frozen peas.
Built at the turn of the 19th century with stone bought from Abraham Lincoln’s father and situated on 650 acres of pristine woodland, this antique-filled former mill charms diners with a quaint atmosphere and a menu of comforting cuisine. For lunch, feast on the famously fulfilling fried chicken, double breaded and served with a cream gravy ($6.99), or partake in the popular Kentucky Hot Brown, an open-faced turkey-and-ham sandwich smothered in rich mornay sauce, topped with tomato and bacon and broiled to a scrumptious sizzle ($8.99).
A classically inspired roadside destination, Little Dave's Roadhouse features an extensive menu of tasty steaks and barbecue. Attentive chefs season the 16-ounce hand-cut rib eye with a secret blend of spices before grilling it to order over an open flame. The chefs also roast baby back ribs to falling-off-the-bone levels of tenderness; glaze them with sweet barbecue sauce; and serve them with 900 napkins. A host of other options ranges from fish sandwiches to the three-piece fried-chicken dinner.