Have you ever met someone who doesn’t like pancakes? Finding someone who actively dislikes big, fluffy flapjacks topped with butter and maple syrup is about as rare as finding a unicorn. The reason? They’re one of the most delicious foods in existence — and we’ve tracked down the best place to find them in every state as well as Washington, D.C.
Pancakes are ubiquitous on American breakfast tables, cooked at home just as often as they’re eaten at restaurants. Made by pouring batter onto a hot buttered griddle, they’re extremely versatile and come in hundreds of varieties. Some are made with buttermilk; some contain cornmeal, buckwheat, or other types of flour; they can be studded with everything from blueberries to bacon to M&Ms; and topping options are infinite. There’s a pancake variety out there for everybody.
But if you’re looking to serve a great pancake, the hallmarks are always the same. Great pancakes are light and fluffy, with an exterior that’s browned and slightly crisped from the butter. They should be just sweet enough that the addition of maple syrup isn’t overbearing, but savory enough to share a fork with bacon and eggs.
What makes a pancake a state’s best, exactly? All of these restaurants serve pancakes that have achieved a level of local (or national) renown, and while some of them only have a few different styles on their menu, we sought out places that serve a wide variety of pancakes; the more batters, fillings, and toppings available, the better (especially pure maple syrup, not the synthetic stuff). But at their heart, all of these pancakes start with quality ingredients, and can hold their own even when served without any fillings or toppings. And to keep the playing field level, we didn’t include major chains like IHOP.
Pancakes are one of a handful of foods that are truly universal. They’re democratic in that they’re incredibly inexpensive to make for anybody with a frying pan and a handful of staple ingredients, but are right at home topped with mascarpone and lemon curd on a fine-dining restaurant’s brunch menu. Whether topped with a pat of butter and a glug of syrup, or filled with bacon bits and rolled up around a sausage link, pancakes are one of the most delicious and versatile foods in existence, and these are the best places to find them in every state.