What it’s like to eat at a one-table tiny IHOP restaurant built in a trailer inspired by the tiny home trend

The world's tiniest IHOP restaurant was cloistered in a secret Los Angeles location.

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The world’s tiniest IHOP restaurant was cloistered in a secret Los Angeles location.
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Irene Jiang/Business Insider

IHOP is a massive chain of large restaurants that serve enormous meals.

But last week, IHOP hosted an exclusive tiny dinner series in the world’s tiniest IHOP, a tiny house built by A&E’s “Tiny House Nation” hosts John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin. The IHOP was cloistered in a clandestine location in downtown Los Angeles, and functioned as a working restaurant for four nights, serving three seatings per night.

For each seating, six diners squeezed into the tiny IHOP for a four-course meal inspired by IHOP classics and served personally by IHOP’s head of culinary, Scott Randolph. The meal was made only using ingredients from IHOP’s regular menu and test kitchen.

“About the tiny house – we were looking for something unique and fun to do,” said Stephanie Peterson, head of communications at IHOP. “We were doing a partnership with A&E and then after we did it, we said the most amazing thing we could do would be to actually open it up and let people enjoy chef Scott’s food.”

In order to see if IHOP could fit a grand experience into a petite space, I flew cross-country to Los Angeles to put lots of tiny pancakes into my mouth. Here’s what it was like:


I took a Lyft to Rolling Greens, an urban nursery and event space in downtown LA’s hip art district. Inside the gates, a secret awaited.

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A red carpet led me through holiday lights to a very tiny restaurant. The inside of the house is 170 square feet — about the size of my New York bedroom.

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Packed into the tiny house are a fully-functioning commercial kitchen, a dining booth, and a counter for additional seating.

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Inside, Randolph was preparing for the first course.

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Randolph used ordinary IHOP ingredients to create a fine-dining-like experience. “It’s great to do something that’s chef-driven versus everyday-driven,” he said.

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“Nothing is in the form it would be in on the menu, because everything’s tiny and IHOP’s all about large,” Randolph continued.

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Soon, the diners arrived and sat in the booth. I was seated at the counter, where I watched Randolph prepare the food.

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First up was a chef’s gift: a tiny pancake topped with bacon jam.

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It was a salty, sweet, breakfast-y bite.

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Then it was time for the real menu: a pancake flight, “steak and eggs”, color-changing crepes, and fall french toast.

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The first item on the menu was the pancake flight.

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Randolph explained that he wanted to alternate traditional flavors with unexpected ones.

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We would try three flavors: a traditional strawberry pancake, a crème brulée pancake topped with an exotic strawberry, and a blackberry and popping boba pancake.

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It was certainly the first time I’ve seen popping boba on a pancake.

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The highlight of the flight was definitely the crème brûlee pancake.

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The pancakes were fluffy as ever, and the crème brulée bits provided a bit of sticky-crunchy texture.

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The popping boba was certainly different, but not something I’d necessarily want to see on IHOP’s menu. At least not on a pancake.

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The dense pancakes overpowered the delicate flavor of the popping boba.

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The second course was Randolph’s unconventional take on steak and eggs: pork belly and egg souffle.

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This dish was inspired by chawanmushi, a Japanese steamed egg dish, and Asian flavors for the pork belly.

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This isn’t a dish you’re likely to see at an IHOP any time soon. But it has the same sort of flavor principle as steak and eggs.

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Bold flavor, palette cleanser. A bite of belly, a bite of egg.

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The belly was crispy and had a dark, sweet flavor. There was whiskey in the sauce.

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The egg was light and bubble-free. It reminded me a lot of the steamed egg dish my grandma used to make me.

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I actually liked the egg a lot more than the belly. It had such a smooth, pleasant texture.

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Third on the menu: color-changing crepes.

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The secret ingredient: “magic” sugar that changes color when moisture is added.

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There were a lot of flavors and colors on this plate, meaning that unsurprisingly, some of them clashed with each other.

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IHOP’s classic crepe recipe was a clear win. Coconut cream and agave-braised strawberries? Can’t go wrong.

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But the lemon cream and rock candy, both risky adds, didn’t quite pay off.

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I was fascinated by the color-changing sugar, though. I hope that’s an ingredient that shows up on IHOP’s menu soon.

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Otherwise, the basics were the best in this dish.

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Before the last course, it was time for another chef’s gift …

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A puff of piña colada cotton candy.

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It was a lovely, light, sweet bite that tasted vaguely like artificial pineapple.

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Finally, we ended the meal with fall French toast.

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IHOP’s French toast can’t be messed with.

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This dish was topped with sliced bananas, granola, amaretto sauce, and chocolate ginger sauce.

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It looked pretty but was ultimately a little confusing, both flavor and texture-wise.

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It reminded me of desserts I’d put together at school cafeterias, using what was available to make something new, but not always good.

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That’s what this meal was: fun and creative, with risks that didn’t always pay off, but astonished when they did.

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But it was thrilling to experience an IHOP meal that was also very not IHOP.

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I spoke to several of the diners. Los Angeles resident Laura Vargas, who attended the dinner with her sister, said that she enjoyed the private setting. “Just having the chef explain the menu to us was pretty neat.”

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Rochelle Belle, a local actress and live-streamer, is an IHOP devotee who live-streamed the end of her experience. “I almost don’t have words to describe it,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect.”

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