USA & Canada
Review by Diana, MaceVindaloo
The place has been abbreviated to "iHOP" and featured a kangaroo jumping around and showing the blue-roofed logo. (I guess they were blue, whereas the now mostly defunct Howard Johnsons restaurants were orange?) It is less "international" than it used to be, but has expanded to included huge omelettes, pancakes made to reflect the changes in Americana -- harvest nut, buttermilk, fruit, chocolate -- and included such things as a t-bone steak or chicken fried steak with your pancakes, eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, hash browns breakfast. There are also good "other" meals, like sandwiches and "blue plate" style of specials type of meals.
Basically, it's a family place with good food. It tends to be located in seedier neighborhoods (cheaper real estate?) and no matter how big the parking lot is, it's just not big enough. People will drive onto the sidewalks to park, so they can get ther iHOP fix! But don't be put off if you see a long waiting line ... if you go with just two of you, you can often be seated immediately. The value is so good that families of six tend to be the norm, and they tend to be the people waiting, though usually not more than 15 minutes.
They tend to be open all hours, or most hours, anyway. Many have expanded past their original space, but at night they can close sections to keep everyone in one part of the dining area. This tends to be problematic, actually ... I prefer not to go late at night; the service goes downhill with the one waiter or waitress being tired and harried. I once went to one in Los Angeles and was seated immediately, but we didn't get our order at all ... my date and I ended up walking out at 3am.
It's like Denny's or Friendly's or Cracker Barrel or Bob Evan's ... "wholesome family meals" at good prices, with an emphasis on delicious and caloric breakfasts. But the food seems to be better at iHOP, if for no other reason than they concentrated and stuck to the breakfast theme, and they do it really well. Not that those other places don't, but the quality of iHOP breakfasts has never wavered in the long years I've been a loyal customer. And I do love the harvest nut pancakes and the silver dollar cornmeal pancakes!
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