The 10 Best Waffles in America

Love waffles? These spots do them right

Yelp/ Stephen P

The Guenther House is a San Antonio landmark.

Who doesn’t love waffles? Along with pancakes and French toast, they’re the hallmark of a carb-heavy breakfast. And even though it’s hard to find fault with the frozen ones we heat up in our toasters, these eateries do them better than just about anyone else in America.

The 10 Best Waffles in America (Slideshow)

Waffles trace their roots back to the Middle Ages (when communion wafers were often patterned), and today they come in a few different varieties. “Belgian” waffles as we know them actually have two types: the Brussels waffle, which is light, airy, rectangular, and crisp; and the more popular Liege waffle, which is richer, denser, chewier, and sweeter. Americanized Belgian waffles (like the type found at diners) are a simplified version of the Belgian waffle, and were first popularized at the 1964 World’s Fair.

While all waffles are made the same way — by pouring batter into a waffle iron and letting it cook until it’s golden brown and delicious — not all waffles are created equal. An ideal waffle is super-fresh, crisp, and buttery, with a hint of sweetness. While it’s a great vessel for a host of toppings both sweet and savory, it still needs to be delicious enough to eat on its own. Many diners will reheat pre-made waffles, which will still result in one that’s perfectly fine, but doesn’t hold a candle to the real deal.

In order to assemble our ranking of the best waffles in America, we searched existing best-of lists both in print and online, but also combed through regional publications and local restaurant reviews in an effort to highlight off-the-radar spots that are legendary for their waffles. We also made a concerted effort to focus on the waffles themselves, not the toppings (this is a ranking of the best waffles, after all, not the wildest), even though creative applications certainly don’t hurt. In order to be considered, these spots need to make their own waffles from scratch to order, and to keep the playing field even, we didn’t consider chains like Waffle House and Roscoe’s.

So from a legendary New York food truck to an old-school hole in the wall in Lake Tahoe, read on to learn which 10 waffle spots are America’s best. And if after reading this you feel that the same-old toaster waffles just don’t cut it, you can find recipes to make your own waffles from scratch here, here, and here.

#10 Melt, St. Louis

Melt / Facebook

These waffles also make for a great egg sandwich.

This funky and eclectic bar and restaurant is all about the waffles (as well as coffee, ice cream, and pinball), and their round old-fashioned waffles are cooked to order from a batter that’s made fresh throughout the day. Crisp on the outside (get the toppings on the side for maximum effect) but chewy and slightly sweet on the inside, they’re great on their own but also the perfect vessel for toppings including apple cinnamon pie, peanut butter and chocolate, and bacon and eggs.

#9 Aretha Frankenstein's, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Yelp / Katina W

Why hasn't Guy Fieri been here yet?

With a name like that, you know this place is going to be super funky, and it definitely fits the bill. Some spectacular breakfast and lunch creations are coming out of this restaurant’s tiny kitchen, and lines stretch out the door on weekends. The pancakes here are stellar (you can buy the mix), and there’s only one waffle on the menu: the Waffle of Insane Greatness. It looks like a traditional diner-style Belgian waffle, but it’s head and shoulders above what you usually encounter: made with flour, cornstarch, baking powder and soda, buttermilk, and a hint of vanilla extract, it’s light and crispy, and yes, insanely great. While it doesn’t need more than the couple butter packets and syrup that it comes with, you can also opt to get it topped with vanilla ice cream, pecans in syrup, and cinnamon.