They go by a lot of names—hot cakes, flapjacks, griddle cakes—but the best pancakes in America have one thing in common: light, fluffy centers that, when done right, can only be described as cloud-like. And damn delicious, of course. From options flecked with chocolate chips to the classic buttermilk variety (and even some health-conscious versions), these takes on the breakfast staple are worthy of a syrup-fueled road trip. If you’re a lover of all things flat and fluffy, hit up these cafés, coffee shops, breakfast restaurants and diners for the best pancakes in America. Follow Time Out USA on Facebook; sign up for the Time Out USA newsletter
Best pancakes in America
Anyone who argues there’s no reason to order plain pancakes at a restaurant when you can easily make them at home hasn’t had the beauties at Gather. So moist, so fluffy, so light—among the best in a city with some serious form when it comes to pancakes.
Diners can get their pancake fix 24 hours a day at this popular ATX eatery, where a Christmas-inspired variation graces the menu all year long. Packed with holiday spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and brewed coffee to give it that caramel brown color, the big-as-your-face discs land on tables with a simple pat of butter—no crazy toppings or fanfare necessary.
Photograph: Squire Fox
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, and hankering for those pancakes—stretches around the block.Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Kelly Bone
When pancakes are your namesake, there’s a reputation to live up to—and the flapjack slingers at sprawling mountain lodge Polly’s Pancake Parlor do an especially fine job with their cornmeal variety. Inspired by Johnny cakes, the fluffy three-inch discs get their deep golden color from organic corn flour that’s stone-ground on site. Add-ins like blueberries and chocolate chip are available, but it’s the local New Hampshire maple syrup that takes the (pan)cake.