How many secret menus does Waffle House have?

Waffle House is a popular diner-style restaurant chain known for its breakfast food served 24/7. The chain has over 2,000 locations across 25 states in the Southern and Midwestern United States. Waffle House is beloved for its hearty portions, swift service, and relatively low prices. It has become an iconic fixture of American Southern culture over its 70+ year history.

Beyond its classic waffles, Waffle House offers a full menu of breakfast items like eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, hashbrowns, and biscuits. They also serve sandwiches, salads, and dinner entrees during lunch and dinner hours. The simple, streamlined menu and trademark yellow signage means you know exactly what to expect when stopping into a Waffle House.

Or do you? Rumors have circulated for years that Waffle House has secret menus not available to the average customer. Are these secret menus real? And if so, how many are there? Let’s investigate further.

What is a Secret Menu?

A “secret menu” refers to menu items that are not openly advertised or listed at a restaurant, but are still available upon request. Sometimes secret menus are unofficial and develop organically when customers learn that off-menu speciality orders can be accommodated. In other cases, the secret menus are sanctioned by the restaurant but intentionally kept quiet.

Secret menus are often associated with “in-the-know” customers who want access to under-the-radar, unique, or premium menu items. For the restaurant, secret menus can build buzz, offer flexibility for good customers, and provide opportunities to test new products.

The History of Secret Menus

While the concept of secret menus feels very internet-era, the practice has existed for decades. According to Eater, secret menus gained popularity in the 1930s at chic supper clubs and bars. Customers in the know could order top-shelf liquor and other specialty items discreetly not available to average patrons.

In the 1950s, the original Burger King published a pamphlet of slogans and recipes called the “Manifesto.” It included experimental sandwiches and drinks tried by employees after hours using ingredients at the restaurant. Though not officially a secret menu, it showed how restaurants catered to adventurous patrons interested in something different.

The secret menu concept exploded in the 1970s with the dawn of fast food chains like McDonald’s and specialty coffee shops like Starbucks. Both companies allowed customers to customize standard menu items with secret coded languages, spawning unofficial secret menus. The trend continues today with nearly every major fast food chain having some form of secret menu.

Do Waffle Houses Have Secret Menus?

This brings us back to our original question – amidst all these secret menus, does Waffle House have one too? The short answer is yes! Albeit on a smaller scale than chains like Starbucks and McDonald’s.

Waffle House employees and patrons have confirmed the existence of Waffle House secret menus over the years. A 2012 blog post by Waffle House regular Bruce P., who claimed to have eaten at over 400 Waffle House locations, gave one of the first peeks into the Waffle House secret menu.

Bruce described several customized hashbrown dish variations that could be ordered if you knew how to ask properly. For example, ordering hashbrowns “scattered, chunked, diced, and peppered” would yield hashbrowns topped with ham chunks, onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos.

Waffle House cooks on Reddit have also acknowledged whipping up off-menu specials for polite regulars. And some travelers recount stories of cooks at late-night locations being willing to combine menu items into mashups upon request.

So while Waffle House doesn’t publish an official secret menu, veteran customers seemingly can get access to customize and combine standard ingredients into secret items. The key factors are knowing which locations and cooks will prepare them and asking politely at non-busy hours.

Noteworthy Secret Menu Items

Here are some of the most intriguing secret menu items reportedly available at select Waffle House locations:

Hashbrown Casserole – Hashbrowns cooked together in a casserole with cheese, onions, and other toppings baked into a casserole dish. Essentially Waffle House hashbrown potatoes au gratin.

The Waffle Sandwich – A breakfast sandwich with eggs, cheese, bacon, and sausage nestled between two waffles instead of bread.

The Double Dipped – Chicken tenders double-dipped into batter before being deep fried for an extra crispy exterior.

The Juicy Lucy – A burger patty stuffed with American cheese that oozes when bitten into.

The Waffle Tower – Stacks of up to five waffles high served as one giant portion.

The Sweet Tooth Sampler – A dessert plate with baked cinnamon apples, a waffle sundae, and chocolate chip waffle.

Again, these are not official menu items. But those who say they have ordered them describe a “chef’s choice” scenario where the on-duty cook improvises with ingredients on hand. Asking politely during slow periods and tipping well improves your chances.

Why Doesn’t Waffle House Publish a Secret Menu?

Waffle House has never formally acknowledged the existence of any secret menu items. There are several likely reasons why:

  • They want to maintain quick kitchen throughput. Official secret menus could overcomplicate operations.
  • Adding many new menu options goes against their simple diner-style brand.
  • They aim to treat all customers equally. Secret menus can create a “haves” vs “have nots” dining experience.
  • Unofficial menus give cooks flexibility to please customers. But they don’t want to be held accountable to making every obscure request.

Restaurant analyst Mark Klein notes that Waffle House prides itself on serving any customer at any hour quickly and reliably. While amusing, officially promoting secret menu options could undermine that consistency.

Klein also points out Waffle House has a famously massive menu considering it is a diner. The current Waffle House menu already lists over 50 combination plates, sandwiches, and sides. So they likely don’t feel more options are needed.

In the end, Waffle House seems content with cooks customizing on occasion when appropriate but not making that a highlighted feature of the brand.

How Many Waffle House Secret Menus Exist?

Given Waffle House never formally created or promoted an official secret menu, it’s impossible to say exactly how many exist. The options likely vary from location to location and cook to cook.

However, based on insider reports, it seems most Waffle House secret menus contain some combination of the following:

  • Hashbrown dish variations like casseroles and melts
  • Breakfast sandwich combinations stuffed between waffles or buns
  • Double fried or double dipped fried chicken
  • Giant waffle stacks
  • Obscure pies, cakes, and sundae desserts
  • Burgers stuffed with cheese

More adventurous Waffle House locations probably have option menus of 10-15 items like these that can be made when requested nicely. Busier, less accommodating locations may offer no “secret” items at all.

So ultimately every Waffle House likely has 0-15 theoretically achievable secret menu items depending on the mood of the cook and hunger of the customer.

Tips for Accessing the Waffle House Secret Menu

Here is some advice from Waffle House regulars on how to successfully order from the secret menu:

  • Ask politely and accept if the cook declines.
  • Know exactly what you want. Don’t expect cooks to list options or make recommendations.
  • Order during slow periods like late night to make custom orders easier.
  • Establish yourself as a regular customer then ask for special requests.
  • Tip well when you receive great service and off-menu items.
  • Start basic (e.g. scattered hashbrowns chunked and peppered) then work up to larger custom combos once cooks know you.
  • Accept that not all cooks or locations will offer secret menu items.
  • Always thank and compliment the staff for good service.

Be polite, tip well, and go at slow hours, and your odds will improve of getting to experience the Waffle House secret menu.

The Future of Waffle House Secret Menus

Looking ahead, will secret menus continue to be a quirky niche part of the Waffle House experience? Or could they pave the way for more customer personalization?

Some industry experts think the current model will remain intact. Waffle House has carved out a successful brand identity delivering simple, affordable Southern comfort food classics. Drastically changing that DNA with customized secret menus risks alienating core customer segments. The chain seems unlikely to promote specialty off-menu ordering given their focus on efficiency, consistency, and familiarity.

However, other analysts see secret menus eventually going more mainstream at Waffle House. Customization has become commonplace in the broader restaurant industry, led by chains like Chipotle and Starbucks. Customers, especially younger generations, now expect food experiences tailored specifically to their preferences. Chains who only offer rigid static menus may seem outdated in comparison. If competition rises, Waffle House may be forced to expand secret menu options as a customer retention strategy.

Realistically, a hybrid approach seems most likely – Keeping the core menu intact while training select cooks at high-volume locations to take special orders during slow periods when operationally feasible. This would allow Waffle House to test customization and generate buzz while minimizing risk. But only time will tell if they take steps to bring secret menus out of the shadows.


So in summary, while Waffle House does not have an advertised secret menu, individual locations and employees have been known to offer customized dishes for years. The number of achievable special orders likely ranges from 0 at stuffy locations up to 10-15 at accommodating late night locales. Access depends on customer politeness, tipping generously, and visiting during off-peak hours. Waffle House seems unlikely to formalize secret menus given their focus on speed, value, and familiar dining experiences. But customized orders may become more mainstreamed if competition calls for it. Either way, the secret menu’s lore will continue intriguing adventurous patrons of this iconic American diner chain.

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