The restaurants listed below let you carbo-load in the best possible way: by offering fluffy pancakes stuffed, dotted, or covered in such ingredients as Nutella, chocolate chips, and strawberries. Whether they cook up a traditional take on the buttermilk basic or a souped-up version bordering on the insane, these restaurants serve the best pancakes in New York City. By Jessica Allen.
Big Daddy’s is all about the retro vibe. The interior is designed to resemble a 1950s-era diner. On the table are worn Trivial Pursuit cards; on the speakers are throwback tunes. The ginormous plastic menu lists the all-day breakfast options, including bacon cakes, in which buttermilk pancakes are dotted with bits of bacon; “Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love,” pancakes with banana and chunks of chocolate; and even pancakes dotted with Oreos. The pancakes are as big and bold as the restaurant’s good times ’tude.
Bubby’s wants you to know two things about it right off the bat: this Tribeca institution, with a recently opened outpost near the High Line, envisions itself as a “defender of the American table,” and it proudly “steals recipes from grandmas.” Just about all its ingredients are sourced locally or made in house, and said stolen recipes include one for sourdough pancakes, which rely on a starter from Klondike, Canada, dating to the 1890s, and one for sour cream pancakes, which uses a recipe from James Beard. Add wild Maine blueberries, bananas, or chocolate for an extra dose of goodness.
Clinton St. Baking Co. & Restaurant
Since April 2001, husband-and-wife chef/owners Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman have been producing some of the best pancakes in the city at this tiny restaurant on the Lower East Side. Don’t believe us? The lines speak for themselves (on weekends, the wait for a table often creeps past the two-hour mark). Daily options range from the traditional topped with warm maple butter to crispy potato pancakes. February is “pancake month,” and features such concoctions as coconut pancakes topped with brûléed bananas, roasted macadamia nuts, and caramelized pineapple.
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Whatever you’ve heard about Shopsin’s, located in the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side, is probably true: the owner has been known to throw people out of his restaurant for seemingly arbitrary, profanity-laced reasons. The menu is longer than many books. And the hassle? Totally worth it. Pancakes here come loaded with all kinds of craziness. Try the “original slutty pancakes,” with pumpkin, cinnamon, pistachio, and peanut butter, or the sweet and savory “mac-n-cheese pancakes.” Buy the cookbook, so you can re-create the dishes at home with as many, or as few, “f-bombs” as you wish.
Unlike Big Daddy’s, Tom’s Restaurant in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, doesn’t have to try for a retro vibe; this diner is the real deal. For almost 80 years, this restaurant has served omelets, chicken fingers, ham sandwiches, and other breakfast and lunch staples to hungry hordes of regulars and tourists. We like the cinnamon pancakes, but you might prefer the harvest pancakes with cranberries and corn or the lemon-ricotta pancakes. The lines are long, yes, but you’ll get fresh coffee, french fries, orange slices, and other treats while you wait.