Yelp/ Jessica G
Have you ever met someone who doesn’t like pancakes? You might find people who choose not to eat them, but meeting someone who actually doesn’t like them is as rare as finding a unicorn. The reason? They’re one of the most delicious foods in existence — and these 10 restaurants do them better than just about anyone else.
Yelp/ Pancake Factory
The only downside to this small-town favorite? It gets absolutely packed on weekends. As the name implies, it’s all about the pancakes at this homey family-run restaurant, and there are lots of varieties on the menu. If you’re looking to go traditional, you won’t be let down by their buttermilk, buckwheat, pecan, chocolate chip, blueberry, or banana pancakes, which are fresh, light, and (of course) scratch made. But if you’re in the mood for something different, opt for their thin and slightly gooey flapjacks, their puffy German pancake (or its smaller cousin, the Dutch baby), or their pièce de résistance, the old-fashioned apple pancake, which is baked with fresh apples and a cinnamon glaze and could double as a decadent dessert.
Facebook/ The Downyflake
This cash-only Nantucket landmark has been going strong for more than 80 years, and it’s a an absolute must-visit for anyone on the island. First of all, picking up a box of their freshly fried doughnuts is a Nantucket tradition (It’s actually the last remaining location of America’s first doughnut chain), but their pancakes are just as legendary as the doughnuts. Simple and no-frills, these are melt-in-your-mouth and perfectly golden brown. Get them topped with their homemade blueberry syrup.
Facebook/ Walker Brothers
For more than 50 years, this franchise of the Original Pancake House chain has been serving absolutely stellar pancakes, now available in more than 10 varieties including buttermilk, blueberry, Georgia pecan, bacon, potato, buckwheat, wheat germ granola, and gluten-free. The other locations don’t hold a candle to this outpost, simply because they were one of the very first franchisees and have been doing things their own way since day one. That includes using the highest-quality butter and cream and hard wheat unbleached flour in its pancake recipe. If blueberry pancakes are your thing, don’t miss these: You get six in an order, they’re studded with lots of fresh blueberries, and they’re served with fresh blueberry compote on the side.
Located right on Jackson Square, Stanley is one of the brightest, most charming breakfast spots in New Orleans, which is saying a lot. It’s run by chef Scott Boswell, who attracted a big following at his now-shuttered nearby restaurant, Stella! (note the Streetcar Named Desire references), and his all-day breakfasts here are definitely worth writing home about. His short stack of pancakes is picture-perfect: golden brown, light, fluffy, and dripping with syrup. Instead of butter, he tops them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and instead of maple syrup, he uses local Steen’s Cane Syrup, which is similar to molasses. You’ll be topping all your pancakes with ice cream after trying these.
Yelp/ Aleks K
One of Charleston’s most legendary restaurants (and one of the best restaurants in America, period), James Beard Award winner Robert Stehling’s Hominy Grill has been serving top-notch Lowcountry cuisine since 1996. Stop in for breakfast and you’ll find “buttermilk pancakes” on the menu, which are so much more than the name implies. They’re served three to an order, and perfectly light and airy. Filled with blueberries or topped with apple maple syrup and a scoop of pecan butter, they’re a great way to start a Charleston morning.
Tucked inside the high-end Le Parker Meridien Hotel, Norma’s is one of the most popular (and opulent) breakfast spots in New York (high-roller menu items include foie gras brioche French toast and a $1,000 caviar-topped lobster frittata). At around $30 per order, these are by far the most expensive pancakes on our ranking, but they’re worth every penny. Their blueberry pancakes with rich Devonshire cream are a best-seller, but you can also try their country-style buttermilk pancakes with Georgia peaches and walnuts, banana-macadamia flap jacks with banana brown sugar butter, Nutella “Packed Jacks” with pineapple chunks and raspberries, German pancakes with maple caramelized apple, and light and lemony griddle cakes with Devonshire cream. These are about as gourmet as pancakes can get.
Yelp/ Blake K.
A Wisconsin tradition for more than 50 years, Mr. Pancake for some reason looks almost exactly like a Louisiana paddlewheel boat, but just go with it. Run by the Thompson family (the third generation is now at the helm), this fun and friendly restaurant makes their batter fresh daily and keeps their ingredients a closely guarded secret. What we do know is that they fluff up to an almost impossibly high level on the well-seasoned griddle, and are available in 18 delicious variations. Their buttermilk pancakes are the flagship, and come topped with your choice of peaches, blueberry compote, glazed apples, or bananas. They’ll also incorporate Iowa corn and corn meal, pecans, pineapples, chocolate chips, oat and wheat, or peanut butter right into the batter. If you’re looking to go way outside the box, try the bacon strip pancakes, which have a strip of crispy bacon nestled right into them.
Yelp/ Jessica G
Every item on the menu at M. Henry is prepared using fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients whenever possible, and their pancakes are certainly an extension of that philosophy. A simple stack of three hotcakes will be enough to make you a convert; they’re light, perfectly golden brown, and pleasantly chewy. But if you want to see what this restaurant is truly made of, try the Blackberry Bliss cakes, made by layering two hotcakes with blackberries and vanilla mascarpone cream, then topping the stack with a crumble of brown sugar and oats. One bite and you’ll be dreaming about these for weeks to come.
Griddle Café/ Facebook
Hip and constantly bustling, The Griddle Cafe is renowned for being one of the best breakfast spots in Los Angeles, and is also a top spot for celebrity sightings, if that’s your thing. But even if Jennifer Aniston is sitting right next to you, you probably won’t notice once your gigantic pancakes arrive. Their original buttermilk pancakes and red velvet pancake are the stuff of legend, and in fact they’re so popular that the restaurant has started selling their proprietary mix online. But if you’re looking to go outside the box, try one of their nearly 20 creative variations, like Scotch on the Rocks (coconut, pecan, oat, and butterscotch chips), Black Magic (filled and topped with crushed Oreos) or Saturday Morning Fever (with Bailey’s and Kahlua in the batter).
Yelp/ Hayley C
Gatlinburg is what you might call a pancake town, with no shortage of places serving amazing flapjacks. But the Pancake Pantry, in business since 1960, was the first pancake house in the entire state and remains the best. The century-old building is a gem in itself, and the pancakes served here (and everything that goes with them, including the whipped cream) are made from scratch. Twenty-four different pancake varieties are available, but their flagship old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes are light, tender, and slightly chewy. Standouts include the melt-in-your-mouth cornmeal pancakes, rich Swedish pancakes with imported lingonberries, wild blueberry pancakes, Smoky Mountain buckwheat cakes, whole-wheat pancakes made with flour from a local mill, and a wide variety of crêpes. The Hayley Special, an off-menu item, is also popular with those in the know; these pancakes, topped with bananas, bacon, and peanut butter syrup, are completely out of this world.