The Best Pancakes In NYC
When you want to start your day with carbs doused in maple syrup, head to one of these spots.
Sure, you can make pancakes at home, but you always have to throw the first one (or two or three) away. Somehow, it’s never quite as satisfying as rolling up to a restaurant and having someone else present you with a stack of pure carbohydrates to power your day. Whether you’re a fan of a classic buttermilk short stack or prefer something a little more inventive, these are some of the best pancakes in NYC.
Clinton St. Baking Company
Waiting in an endless line to eat the pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Company is a New York City rite of passage. It’s the kind of thing you do in the first six months of living here, but it’s also the kind of thing that’s nice to revisit every few years just to see if the sparkle is still there. This place is loud, unreasonably busy, and kind of annoying, but the pancakes are truly top-notch. They’re fluffy, basic, and delicious.
photo credit: Carina Finn
Kenny Shopsin’s cult-favorite ‘80s hangout lives on in the Essex Street Market, and no matter what time of day you’re here, there should be some kind of pancake on your table. There are six different types, most of which have several sub-varieties. In “Pancakeland,” you’ll find more or less straightforward options like chocolate chip, blueberry, and mac and cheese (which is straightforward for Shopsin’s). Then there are the special and extra-special pancakes, the pancake sandwiches, the ebelskivers, and finally, the famous Slutty Pancakes, which are stuffed with things like hatch chile and chorizo mac and cheese.
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Sunday in Brooklyn
With its terracotta floor and ancient-looking wooden ceiling beams, this Williamsburg spot is probably what George Clooney’s second home in Italy looks like. You can get a lot of brunch-y things like avocado toast and shakshuka here, but the malted pancakes stand out as the “one of these things is not like the other” dish. They have a muffin-like texture and come with a slightly salty hazelnut maple praline topping that you spread like a jam. Pancakes hadn’t reached their full potential until these came along.
Lemon ricotta pancakes are everywhere, but Locanda Verde is one of the spots that made this now-ubiquitous breakfast item popular. Their fluffy ricotta pancakes have a crisp exterior and come stacked with layers of lemon curd in between them, like a birthday cake you can eat for breakfast.
Another lemon-ricotta option, these are pretty different from the ones you’ll find at Locanda Verde. This Noho restaurant’s pancakes are very light, and the lemon flavor is infused directly into the batter. They come topped with a sticky-sweet berry compote that’s so good, you don’t really need syrup.
Breakfast by Salt's Cure
This all-day cafe in the West Village is a popular import from LA known for its oatmeal griddle cakes, which look like pancakes but are pre-sweetened and served without syrup. The griddle cakes come in varieties like blueberry, banana nut, and chocolate chip, and they're thin and crispy, with a moist consistency reminiscent of undercooked muffin batter. We're fans. As is the case for a lot of breakfast spots (especially in this neighborhood), you should get here early to avoid having to stand in line too long.
Chez Ma Tante
We are confident in our belief that these are the best pancakes in Brooklyn. They’re fried in a cast iron skillet, so they have a heavy char on them, and they come topped with some magical type of extra-buttery butter and tons of maple syrup. Your goal for this weekend should be to eat these. Just be sure to make a reservation. On Saturdays and Sundays, this homey Greenpoint restaurant gets packed with pancake-seekers and millennial parents who have exceedingly well-dressed children.
If a restaurant connected to a high-end gym franchise isn’t your first choice for a cool night out, you might want to reconsider. Electric Lemon, the rooftop hotspot perched atop the Equinox Hotel in Hudson Yards, is actually pretty great. The flax pancakes here are exceptionally fluffy and get a pleasant textural contrast from flax seeds strewn throughout the batter. The pancakes aren’t very sweet, but they pair very nicely with maple syrup.
This Viennese cafe is on the first floor of the Neue Gallery, across the street from Central Park. Breakfast is our favorite meal here, and it always starts either with a kaffe krème or an einspänner. If you’re a sweet breakfast person, get an order of Kaisershmarren, a fluffy caramelized pancake that gets chopped up and served with stewed fruit.
Vinegar Hill House
This quaint restaurant in Dumbo (or, technically, Vinegar Hill) has a smallish dining room and, we wouldn’t be surprised if the building was around when the founding fathers were still alive. If you come here for brunch without ordering their sourdough pancake, you just wasted a trip. The pancake is cooked in a wood-fired oven, and it’s custard-like in the middle and might come with strawberries, apples, or peaches depending on the season. (No matter what it comes with, just get it.)
You can’t talk about pancakes in NYC without talking about the impossibly jiggly, fluffy, magical soufflé pancakes at Taiyaki. They practically disappear the moment you take a bite and come drenched in matcha sauce and topped with a cute little mini taiyaki. They’re only available on weekends, which is our only complaint about these pancakes.