Cracker Barrel was named the most popular family chain restaurant this week, which made several of us around here rejoice. Finally! We'd been vindicated in our love of this homestyle meat-and-thirteen roadside staple. Why do we love it? Read on and soon enough you'll love it, too.

Easy Apple Butter
  1. Free food! Ok, ok, with purchase, but still. If you order a meal, you get unlimited corn muffins and biscuits, all served with free apple butter, jelly, or honey. As one of our staffers said, "It's the best-kept secret!"
  2. More free food. Did you order a meal at breakfast? You get unlimited free hash browns. And everyone knows the hash browns are the best!
  3. Heaven on Earth. "My go-to order is chicken fried chicken with white gravy and hash brown casserole. I will occasionally change things up and revert to my childhood order of pancakes. And I did once manage to drag my boyfriend with me and coerce him to order pancakes while I ordered chicken fried chicken, thus reaching Cracker Barrel nirvana," says Darcy Lenz, Cooking Light.
  4. Everyone Is Happy. On a road trip? Don't limit the family to burgers or tacos. One stop at Cracker Barrel lets dad get all-day breakfast while mom gets a sandwich and the kids load up on veggie plates. As Ann Pittman, Cooking Light, wrote, "It's true that Cracker Barrel is a good option for a family on the road—everyone can go his/her own way, opting to go with breakfast food any time of day, a down-home dinner, or a hearty veggie plate."
  5. Easy Baby Food! Traveling with a tiny tot? Cracker Barrel serves a whole baked sweet potato. "I ask for mine without the brown sugar, then just mash it up and feed my infant. Way better than jarred food or fried nuggets!" says Ashley Kappel, MyRecipes.
  6. The Mac 'N Cheese. "In my pre-vegan days, I was crazy about their mac and cheese. They use quite a lot of black pepper and that combined with the rich creamy sauce is quite heavenly," says Hayley Sugg, MyRecipes
  7. That Fire, Tho. "Love the real wood burning fire when it is cold out, and the triangle peg game that keeps my kids entertained," says Tara Hardee, Cooking Light.
  8. Road Trips. "Cracker Barrel is like a warm hug from my grandmother. What's in their chicken fried steak? I don't know. Magic? Happiness? Tears of an angel? It calls to me in the depths of my soul. Entering Cracker Barrel is like taking a road trip back to my childhood. Every football weekend, my grandparents and I would set out on a 4-hour journey from North Alabama to Auburn, and we never missed an opportunity to stop at Cracker Barrel. I can remember the steaming plate of pancakes put down in front of me like an offering to a breakfast queen. Those tiny bottles of syrup were the just-right amount for me and my grandmother. We would split a short stack and bottle of syrup, and scrambled eggs. My grandfather would let me sneak a bit of his over-the-top salty country ham, and I would chase it with a spoonful of white gravy. Be right back. I've gotta make a Cracker Barrel run before I start crying," says Kimberly Holland, Cooking Light.
  9. Feels Like Family. "I love their southern approach and hospitality. There aren’t many chain restaurants that make you feel like you’re home for some down-home, southern-cooking, every time," says Katie Hanley, MyRecipes.
  10. The Warm Fuzzies. "I love their southern approach and hospitality. There aren’t many chain restaurants that make you feel like you’re home for some down-home, southern-cooking, every time," says Michelle Darrisaw, Cooking Light.
  11. The Dreams. "There's really nothing quite like the thrill of hearing your name cheerily booming over the intercom announcing that you, "Lenz, party of 2" have a table waiting, just as you were legit considering purchasing a paisley "mommy and me" outfit set for the older, cooler version of yourself and your unborn child... so close, and yet so far from laying the theoretical--but chic--foundation for possibly the greatest mother-daughter bond the world has ever known. Maybe next time," says Darcy Lenz, Cooking Light.
  12. The Price Point. "What other restaurant offers: both giant outdoor checker boards resting on barrels AND an authentic country store to shop in as waiting-for-a-table activities, then a mind-stimulating peg game for you to play while awaiting your food, breakfast all day, legitimately great oatmeal (seriously, most locations I've ever frequented run out by like 8:30 am), a menu full of chicken fried delight (not to mention... like almost no meal that costs over $9.99), pancakes that may or may not bring tears of joy/pleasure to your eyes, a masterfully curated collection of antiques hung with finesse on every single wall, more nostalgic comfort and warmth than you should ever hope to ask for from a chain restaurant, and as if you weren't warm enough... a massive live fire during the chilly months right in the center of the dinning room? Yeah, CB is everything," says Darcy Lenz, Cooking Light.
By Ashley Kappel and Ashley Kappel