I never order pancakes. The dry discs usually require a drenching of syrup and heavy smears of butter to prevent cotton mouth. Admittedly, even some of the worst pancakes taste pretty good for the first bite or two, but then I push them away, too full to continue. So that’s my challenge: Find classic cakes so moist, so delicious, that I can happily devour the whole stack without feeling like an anchor has settled in my stomach. After a few missteps (including a baked-to-hell monstrosity that looked like the giant, craggy face of George Lopez), I can say these are among the best clean-your-plate pancakes in town:
1. Pannekaker at Tre Kronor(3258 W Foster Ave, 773-267-9888, trekronorrestaurant.com): The thin, crêpelike Swedish pancakes ($5.25) at this Northwest Side ode to Scandinavia are so spongy and light, they practically dissolved in my mouth as I chewed. The tart lingonberries served on the side provide the perfect foil for the slightly sweet pannekaker, but spread them sparingly: These cakes shine just fine on their own.
2. Heavenly Hots at Ina’s(1235 W Randolph St, 312-226-8227, breakfastqueen.com): What makes these silver dollar–size pancakes ($8.79) so rich and custardy? Self-appointed (yet deserving) breakfast queen Ina Pinkney adds a ton of sour cream to the batter, making for a pancake so incredibly moist and flavorful I forgot to add syrup. But do finish off that compote of peaches, blueberries and raspberries that comes with the cakes for much-needed morning vitamins—you are basically eating pastries for breakfast, after all.
3. Simply Hotcakes at m.henry(5707 N Clark St, 773-561-1600, mhenry.net): Eyeing these inch-thick, perfectly browned pancakes ($6.25) stacked three-high on the plate, I thought for sure I’d be guzzling water after my first bite to cure a dire case of dry mouth. Not so. One forkful after another of the fluffy cakes, delicately crisp on both sides, only had me wanting more. Did I finish them all? Well, no. But for the first time in a while, I truly wished I could.