Long before you ever heard of an iMac or held an iPod or iPad, there was IHOP.
Young whippersnappers, I’m sure, haven’t a clue what it stands for but before it became an acronym in 1973, America called it the “International House of Pancakes.”
Since 1958, when you were good and hungry, you knew you were in for a satisfying meal at the sight of IHOP’s original iconic A-frame shack.
With a chain as established as IHOP, you know what you’re getting and it feels familiar. And they always have plenty of comfy booths.
Factoid: The company owns Applebee’s, making IHOP the largest full-service restaurant company in the world. Like so many big companies, they support their communities. Each year IHOP hosts National Pancake Day, which has raised $8 million and counting.
I have new “family” who have moved to our paradise here, so Becky and her mom Marietta joined Greg and me before beginning a busy day for all.
It was time for breakfast so everyone ordered breakfast — except me.
Everything on the menu is available whenever you want it. Six a.m. and you’re not craving Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity? No problem. They’ll happily serve you a Hearty Dinner: Choose from T-bone steak, thick-cut bone-in ham, grilled tilapia, Maui-style crunchy shrimp or grilled balsamic (Pineapple Island) glazed chicken. Most Hearty Dinners come with steamed broccoli and seasoned red skin potatoes or mashed.
The French Onion Pot Roast ($10.29) sounds especially good: slow-cooked with caramelized onions in a rich beef and mushroom gravy with mashed potatoes and my fav, buttered corn.
But I was in the mood for the Tuscan Chicken Griller: a juicy, grilled chicken breast with melted Provolone cheese, oven-roasted tomatoes, lettuce and sun-dried tomato pesto on a grilled bun ($9.29).
Sandwiches and burgers come with a pickle and your choice of fries, onion rings, fresh fruit, soup or side salad.
While I was giving our cheery server, Jennifer, my order, I gasped at a spectacular pancake featured on the menu (a visual smorgasbord). There was a CINN-A-STACK. Spell that with a Capital “S”. It’s a sugarholic’s dream disguised as breakfast: a pancake tower slathered with cinnamon roll filling, cream cheese icing and whipped cream. What sugarholic could resist? I ordered one as dessert.
And what sugarholic wouldn’t perk up for funnel cakes! IHOP sells more of them than any amusement park.
But I’m getting ahead of our meal.
Breakfast is what IHOP’s known for and most offerings come with pancakes and hash browns.
Greg ordered one of many new menu items, country-fried steak and eggs, featuring an 8-ounce fried beef steak smothered in country gravy and served with two eggs. He loved it.
Becky and Marietta ordered eggs and bacon with huge waffles and came away satisfied. A slave to my work, I found it necessary to taste the waffle. Fluffy, light and crisp. Yum.
A procession of smiling servers with plates on their arms brought us our orders.
Patron perk: IHOP always offers a carafe of coffee for your table so you don’t have to wait to catch the server’s eye for that refill. Many juices are available in a carafe, too ($5.99). And several beverages come with free refills.
But there’s more.
The Big (ham) Steak omelette has cheese, onions and hash browns and tops it with sour cream. The Colorado omelette stuffs bacon, pork sausage, shredded beef, ham, onions, green peppers, and cheddar cheese in a wrap of scrambled eggs — and then tops it with salsa.
Got a big appetite? Try the Breakfast Sampler or, better yet, the thick-cut bone-in ham and eggs with 10 ounces of hickory-smoked ham steak.
Got crepes? IHOP does. There’s Nutella, Swedish, strawberry banana, Danish fruit and German. Each comes with two eggs, two crispy bacon strips and two pork sausage links.
Next time I’ll have to try the Stuffed French Toast Combo: cinnamon raisin French toast with sweet cream filling, crowned with a choice of cool strawberry topping, warm blueberry or cinnamon apple compote and whipped topping. Served with two eggs, hash browns, two bacon strips or two pork sausages, it’s a good deal for $8.49.
For a lighter meal or to get you from lunch to a late dinner, try a Take Two Combo ($7.49) and choose a salad, half a sandwich or even soup. Newest soup on the menu is Loaded Potato & Bacon.
Would a simple appetizer do the trick? Try the combo Monster Mozza Sticks, onion rings or crispy chicken strips and lather on honey mustard and marinara sauces ($8.29).
Yearn for comfort food but the doc sez “No!”? IHOP’s Simple & Fit items are under 600 calories. They’ll also give you tips on making a few changes to turn your “off-the-wagon” choice into physician-pleasing fare.
The Just for Kids menu (12 & under) tempts with Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Little Munchkins will probably drive you crazy for a “Create-A-Face Pancake.”
IHOP makes it easy to come back again by tempting you with popular enticements. “55 Plus” offers many of the Hearty Dinners and lunch and breakfast choices at money-saving prices.
Oh, and one more thing ...
For the rest of this month, children eat free every day from 4-10 p.m. So hurry — August is almost history.
Shelley Taylor and her husband relocated to the peninsula from California. By her own admission, Taylor likes to eat.
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