You might be surprised to learn that the origins of the pancake go way—and I mean way—back.
According to Smithsonian, the first-known written record of a pancake appeared in an ancient Greek text around 500 B.C., and throughout history, the flat cakes have been recognized as a working-class food. That's because they're cheap and incredibly easy to make—all you need is starch, eggs, water or milk, and now commonly, baking powder. Of course, bakers today add additional ingredients to boost the flavor, like butter, sugar, and salt.
Pancakes are so popular that different countries around the world have their own unique versions: Eastern Europe has blintzes, France has crepes, and India has uttapam. The United States is typically known for its thick, fluffy buttermilk pancakes, and boasts the highest rate of pancake consumption in the world. Americans can go a little wild with their toppings and ingredients, often incorporating things like bananas, peanut butter, chocolate chips, maple syrup, and whipped cream. Indeed, the flavors you can pair with pancakes are seemingly endless. Perhaps because pancakes are so customizable, the demand for these hot starchy stacks is steadily increasing.
There are even entire restaurants dedicated solely to pancakes. For those who don't want to head into their own kitchen or grab a box of Bisquick, countless restaurants around the country whip up those scrumptious flapjacks you've been craving. Here are some of the best.
Another Broken Egg Cafe
Venture down to New Orleans without actually hopping on a plane with Another Broken Egg Cafe's bourbon street pancakes. While they might pay homage to the famed Big Easy nightlife destination, these pancakes do more than bring the revelry—they bring the flavor, too. This dish comes with three house-recipe pancakes, topped with banana and pecans, as well as a rum butter sauce and whipped cream. The Louisiana-based chain is one of America's fastest-growing breakfast brands with more than 70 cafes in 14 states.
Specializing in breakfast, brunch, and lunch, First Watch pays special attention to the earlier hours of the day. In addition to the restaurant's multigrain and lemon ricotta pancakes—not to mention the chocolate chip pancakes on the children's menu—the chain also regularly switches things up with its seasonal menu. Currently, First Watch has a cinnamon chip pancake breakfast, which obviously comes with a tasty cinnamon chip pancake, along with two cafe-free eggs cooked any style, and your choice of hardwood smoked bacon or chicken, pork, or turkey sausage. The much beloved and rapidly expanding Florida-based chain currently operates more than 500 restaurants across 29 states.
Snooze A.M. Eatery
With locations in 10 states, this Colorado-based breakfast chain has quite the lineup of pancake offerings, including a "pancake of the week." But, if you can't quite decide which direction to go, opt for Snooze's Signature Pancake Flight. This plate comes with three of the chain's most beloved flavors: Pineapple Upside Down, Blueberry Danish, and Sweet Potato. Some locations also offer a customizable pancake flight, allowing diners to pick their own trio among any available flavors. Why choose one when you can try three?
Le Pain Quotidien
You know that saying about how good things come in small packages? Well, in the case of Le Pain Quotidien's Dutch mini-pancakes, that certainly rings true. Plus, what's cuter than mini bite-sized pancakes? This bakery staple is served with banana, maple butter, and powdered sugar and is a customer favorite on the menu. One review on TripAdvisor stated, "Loved the mini pancakes…they were tasty and fluffy and small." Another customer proclaimed that the pancakes "taste just like Amsterdam." The New York-based chain operates in 50 locations, primarily along the East Coast and southern California.
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With the huge success of Serafina—which first launched in New York City in 1995 and now also operates restaurants in Boston, Miami, and international hubs like Tel Aviv and Istanbul—it stands to reason that the Italian-themed chain would launch a weekend brunch as satisfying as its lunch and dinner. Diners can order up a plate of the restaurant's hugely popular lemon ricotta pancakes, which are served with fresh raspberries, candied lemon, and maple syrup.
The Original Pancake House
Founded in 1953, the country's very first pancake house has over 140 locations nationwide, serving up 15 different varieties of pancake dishes. This family-run business uses high-quality ingredients to make its own batters, syrups, and sauces and serves not only traditional American-style pancakes but also other globally inspired specialties like Dutch babies and potato pancakes. The chain's Swedish pancakes are another example of its versatile offerings. These classic, thin pancakes are served with Swedish lingonberries and freshly whipped butter.
Broken Yolk Cafe
Like many breakfast churning restaurants, California-based Broken Yolk Cafe has quite a few options when it comes to pancakes. From classic buttermilk to banana to Cinna-Cakes, there's a wide variety to choose from—even gluten-free options!) New to the menu, Broken Yolk offers lemon ricotta pancakes that are as decadent as they are flavorful. Moist, sweet, and zesty, lemon ricotta is a popular pancake flavor for good reason, and these are no different.
Add some southern flair to your brunch by ordering up Chart House's cornmeal buttermilk johnny cakes. As the name implies, these pancakes have the added flavor and texture of cornmeal to dial up the deliciousness. They are then served with caramelized apple jam, salted caramel, and warm maple syrup for a comforting, down-home meal. Chart House operates 24 waterfront locations nationwide, but not all of them serve brunch, so check the website to find a participating restaurant near you.
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These buttermilk pancakes are anything but basic. Venture into The Smith in Chicago, Miami, or New York for its weekend brunch and order up a plate of these and you won't be disappointed. The buttery pancakes are topped with sticky toffee caramel and served with pecan maple butter to slather your stack. One review on TripAdvisor mentioned the dish, saying, "Had the pleasure of eating the pancakes and what a pleasure it was indeed."
One of the best things about Cracker Barrel is that the country-themed chain with 662 restaurants across 45 states serves breakfast all day long. Included in those hearty breakfast offerings is the chain's nourishing stuffed cheesecake pancake breakfast. Diners will receive two buttermilk pancakes layered with a cream cheese cheesecake filling and topped with powdered sugar, strawberries, and strawberry syrup. Along with that, you'll also enjoy two eggs and your choice of thick-sliced bacon or smoked sausage. What a feast! Oh, and did I mention that the chain also has pancake tacos, too, if you want something outside the box?