Slathered in butter, drizzled in syrup and piled high—there’s something truly magical about a good stack of pancakes, especially when they’re the best pancakes in NYC. Flipped off flattops at the city’s best diners and luncheonettes, or delicately dressed with seasonal fruit at one of New York’s best fine dining restaurants, a fresh-from-the-griddle stack is one of the best ways to do breakfast in NYC.
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Best pancakes in NYC
Choosing between Bubby’s sourdough and sour-cream pancakes (each $19) is like a parent picking which child they love more. But we’d make terrible parents, so we’re standing behind those sour-cream–fluffed flapjacks as the city’s best stack. Served since the comfort-food den first opened in Tribeca in 1990 (and later in the second Meatpacking District location), the griddle cakes are adapted from an heirloom recipe by famed food writer James Beard: Half the milk in Beard’s recipe is subbed out for delicately tangy Hudson Valley sour cream, yielding tender, golden pancakes with a supremely airy crumb. The stack is dressed with real-deal maple syrup, copious pats of butter and your choice of fruity accoutrements, from caramelized bananas to wild Maine blueberries.
The folks forming queues outside this stroller-friendly bakery-café aren't doing so for their health. Instead, it's for the kitchen's wildly popular pancakes ($15): fluffy, golden griddle cakes that you can (and should) smother liberally with Maine blueberry jam and warm, luscious maple butter.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Wally Gobetz
The legendary eatery has relocated from the West Village to the LES, but still churns out kitchen-sink dishes for a 12-year-old’s palate, such as pumpkin-pistachio–peanut-butter–cinnamon pancakes and chicken-burrito soup. Diners marvel at the wacky fare on a 200-item menu and then bide their time; many sit on the floor while waiting for one of 20 seats. Bizarro brilliance can be found in salty, toothsome macaroni-and-cheese pancakes and habanero-spiced fried chicken. (Pancake purists can find more traditional flavorings like banana and blueberry, $5 each.)
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Veronica
Not much changes at the perfect pre–Brooklyn Museum eatery, Tom’s: The lemon-ricotta pancakes slathered in a medley of butters are still heavenly, cherry-lime rickeys maintain an old-soda-shoppe allure, and on weekend mornings, a line of hungry diners of all ages—munching on cookies and orange slices proffered by friendly staff—stretches around the block. Get here early for a timely eggs and coffee fix.
Brunch is the most indulgent and escapist of meals. Enter Santina, a glass box of coastal Italian exoticism opened by Major Food Group titans Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick in the Meatpacking District in 2015. Even a humble stack of pancakes gets a transportive update, with almond flour used as a nutty base, and almond butter and berries available for topping.
A throwback to the artsy East Village of decades past, this 24-hour Ukrainian diner is famous for such authentic savory grub as borscht, kielbasa and pierogi, but if it's all-American wholesomeness you're after, you can't go wrong with a plate of their from-scratch buckwheat pancakes, served all day.
He may not have initiated the surge of Roman food in New York, but Maialino—Danny Meyer’s first full-fledged foray into Italian cuisine—sets a new standard within this narrow niche. The restaurant is a painstaking homage to the neighborhood trattorias that kept Meyer well fed when he was a young expat living in Rome. The menu, self-consciously regional, offers exceptional facsimiles of dishes specific to Rome. Even the pancakes ($22) harken back to the Italian city, with copious dollops of ricotta in the custardy batter and orange marmalade on top of their browned, crispy-edged exterior.
Café Luluc sets itself apart from the Smith Street bistro-and-brunch pack by starting out early and staying up late, serving full breakfast from 7:30am on weekdays, and keeping the hopping dining room going until 2am on weekends. Eggs and pancakes (butter-drenched cast-iron flapjacks served with mixed fruit and maple syrup) give way to tasty twists on bistro classics at lunch and dinner.
At Norma’s, breakfast is the whole affair: Gourmet egg and pancake concoctions are served in impossibly huge portions. Will you go sweet (banana-macadamia-nut flapjacks topped with whipped banana–brown-sugar butter) or savory (seared-rock-lobster-and-asparagus omelette)? Lean toward simple (warm ham-and-Brie crêpes) or strange (foie gras French toast over wild mushrooms)? It’s all as good as it sounds, which makes paying $8 for grapefruit seem almost sane…depending on who’s picking up the check.
Settle into a stool by the old-school lunch counter at this Chelsea greasy spoon. Short-order cooks in paper hats dish out gut-busting plates, such as the Famous Sloppy Johny sandwich (grilled chicken, bacon, American cheese, onion and coleslaw on a hero) and diner-style, crispy-edged pancakes that are nearly as big as the plate they're served on, available in four varieties (original, blueberry, banana and chocolate-chip).
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Maizal Restaurant & Tequila Bar
With another bustling location in Staten Island, Maizal is certainly succeeding in its quest to bring authentic Mexican cuisine and insanely delicious margaritas to New York’s outer boroughs. The Astoria cafe’s ambiance, all clean lines and exposed brick, mirrors the menu, where handpicked tequilas complement top-quality seafood, steaks and other tasty south-of-the-border fare. Drop by during its generous weekday happy hour for perfectly poured $7 Cassica Margaritas or throw in an extra dollar for the addictively spicy jalapeño margarita, prepared to your liking and topped with a slice of bright green pepper.
Venue says: “Experience a unique Mexican dining experience in Astoria! Fresh cocktails, tequila tastings, and authentic food.”