The 10 Best Waffles in America
February 3, 2017
Love waffles? These spots do them right
Yelp / Charlene
The 10 Best Waffles in America
Yelp / Charlene
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.
#10 Melt, St. Louis
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 / Adrianne P.
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.
#8 The Red Hut Café, Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Yelp / Charlene
Located on the shores of South Lake Tahoe, the Red Hut Café has been open since 1959 and run by two former longtime customers for more than 30 years. It’s a certifiable local institution, with crowds out the door no matter the weather at each of the five locations. Ranked one of Lake Tahoe’s five best restaurants by TripAdvisor, this diner’s motto is “Peace, love, and waffles!” The house waffle recipe hasn’t changed since day one; they’re thin, round, light and fluffy, soft, and slightly cakey, unlike any other waffle you’ll encounter. Try them topped with fresh seasonal berries or bacon and eggs if you’re looking for something more savory, and you’ll find yourself back in line in no time.
#7 Tom’s, Brooklyn
A cash-only Brooklyn landmark with lines around the block every weekend, Tom’s has been serving the Platonic ideal of diner food since it opened on a quiet Prospect Heights corner in 1936. Their Belgian waffles take up the entire plate, and are exactly as you’d expect: crisp, light, and the perfect vessel for butter and syrup. Be on the lookout for seasonal specials like waffles with cranberries or pumpkin and walnuts baked right in, or top yours with ice cream, whipped cream, fresh fruit, or breakfast meats.
#6 Guenther House, San Antonio
Yelp / Stephen P
The home base of Pioneer Flour Mills, originally built in 1859, this is the only restaurant in our ranking that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. The waffles at this breakfast-and-lunch spot are renowned (as you’d expect from a restaurant run by a flour company) and delicious. Their Southern “Sweet Cream” waffle is made with a proprietary mix that you can buy online, and cooks up crispy, golden, and light as air. Get yours served with butter and syrup or topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, or try the waffle of the day.
#5 Belgian Waffle Works, Lake Arrowhead, Calif.
Yelp / Kristina M
This family-owned and -operated restaurant is located right on Lake Arrowhead, making for some seriously picturesque waffle-eating since 1982. The Belgian-style waffles here are big, light, and super-crispy, and are simply served with warm maple syrup and melted butter on the side (they’re also available gluten-free). If you’re looking for creative toppings, you have 17 options to choose from, from apples Normandy (spiced apples, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon spice, and whipped cream) to s’more (chocolate ice cream, marshmallow, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and graham cracker crumbs). If you want to make their waffles at home, they also sell their mix at the restaurant and online.
#4 Waffle Window, Portland, Oregon
The Liege-style waffles at the Waffle Window, which has two Portland locations, don’t start with a batter; instead, they’re made with a yeast-leavened dough and finished with pearl sugar that caramelizes in the waffle iron. Made to order, they’re light and super crispy, full of sweet little bits of caramelized sugar. While they’re delicious with just a dusting of powdered sugar, the more unusual creations are pretty stunning, including one dipped in Guittard dark chocolate and topped with homemade salted caramel ice cream; another topped with local huckleberries and lemon panna cotta; and a savory option topped with bacon, Brie, and basil. You’ve really never had waffles like these.
#3 Wafels & Dinges, New York City
In 2007, Thomas DeGeest quit his job at IBM, bought a yellow 1968 Chevy box truck, and parked on a corner of Broadway in SoHo to sell his first Liege waffle. He made $84 that first shift and never looked back. Some 10 years and several trucks and carts later, DeGeest helms one of the most iconic, lauded (they always rank high in our 101 Best Food Trucks list), and beloved trucks in the city, not to mention carts as well as an East Village brick and mortar outpost.
Wafels, whether Brussels- or Liege-style, come with your choice of dinges (sides) that include dulce de leche, Belgian chocolate fudge, maple syrup, whipped cream, walnuts, bananas, butter, Nutella, strawberries, and perhaps one of the most underrated toppings of our time, speculoos. Imagine Golden Grahams cereal in dessert sauce form. It’s sweet; it’s salty; it actually originates from a thin, crunchy cookie typically made using butter, sugar, and a combination of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and sometimes ginger); and if it’s your first topping, it’s free (for $2 you can load your wafels with every topping in the truck). If you’re looking for something savory, top your waffle with pulled pork and coleslaw.
#2 Waffle Champion, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Oklahoma City’s Waffle Champion serves two waffle varieties: the classic, made with a fresh-made buttermilk batter with hints of vanilla and cinnamon; and Liege, with yeast-risen dough studded with caramelized pearl sugar for that magical crunch. You can certainly enjoy them on their own or with toppings (which include brown sugar rum bananas, peanut butter mousse, red chile candied pecans, house-made marshmallow brûlée, speculoos, small-batch lemon curd, “liquid cheesecake,” and strawberry-anise compote), but the claim to fame here is their waffle sandwiches. Choose your waffle and get it folded up around options like migas (turkey chorizo, egg, cucumber relish, crème fraîche, tortilla chips), buttermilk fried chicken (with crispy leeks and Tabasco honey), pulled pork (with ancho barbecue sauce and Maytag blue cheese slaw), pit ham (Havarti, fried pickles, romaine, and maple mustard), and lobster roll (sauce gribiche, romaine, and green onion). Hungry yet?
#1 The Waffle, Los Angeles
Yelp/ Ron T.
This elevated diner has become a Hollywood staple since opening in 2008, famous for its dog-friendly patio as well as its stellar waffles. There are a whopping 17 different waffles on the menu, and we’re not just talking about topping varieties: Chef Sosa bakes everything from blueberries; cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins, and walnuts; and bacon to cornmeal and jalapeños directly into the waffles, resulting in stunning creations like the blueberry lemon waffle, strawberry cheesecake waffle, tres leches waffle, smoked salmon waffle, and hash brown waffle. But their perfect classic malted Belgian waffle, served with butter and syrup, as well as their legendary red velvet waffle, prove that these menu items are far from just gimmicks.