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The 19 best waffles in America

Whether soaked in maple syrup or topped with crispy fried chicken, the best waffles in America are the ideal brunch food

Photograph: Courtesy Blue Bottle Coffee

Of all the tempting options available at brunch time, there’s one treat that always calls to us from restaurant menus: the waffle. At its best, this breakfast staple is golden-brown, buttery, crisp and fluffy at the same time. Waffles are an essential part of the best brunch in America, whether you’re chowing down on them at the best diners in America or the best breakfast restaurants in America. From straightforward sweet varieties soaked in maple syrup to unusual savory ones topped with crispy fried chicken, these are the best waffles in America.

Best waffles in America

1

Shaky Alibi in Los Angeles, CA

This Fairfax “wafflerie” shows no restraint when it comes to its liege-style waffle, towering yeasted beauties studded with Belgian pearl sugar. Light and fluffy within while crisp on the outside, the plain waffle makes an excellent breakfast or snack all on its own—but where’s the fun in that? Better to load on plenty of high-quality toppings such as creamy speculoos, or spiced cookie, spread; melted milk chocolate; sea salt caramel sauce and, ok, fresh fruit if you want to be “healthy.”

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Central LA
2

The Waffle Window in Portland, OR

Like much of Portland’s best food, these genre-defining waffles are served to-go from, yes, a window (you can enjoy the buttery creations at some nearby picnic tables). The liege-style waffles, adapted from a classic Belgian recipe, come sweet (crusted with pearl sugar, chocolate-dipped) or savory (with accoutrements such as bacon, ham and cheese). We adore the spicy bacon cheddar jalapeno option, a golden waffle scattered with fresh chopped peppers, draped with thick-cut bacon, showered with grated cheddar and drizzled with house-made avocado-tomatillo salsa.

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Hawthorne
3

Wafels & Dinges in New York, NY

The popular Belgian-waffle truck, beloved for its towering Belgian-style waffles, now has an East Village brick-and-mortar. Post up at the counter or at a table for savory offerings like the 2nd Street Salmon Special (capers, lemon dill sour cream) and Wake Up, Grumpy (egg, bacon and cheese), or stay classically sweet by loading your waffle with toppings such as speculoos, maple syrup and strawberries. Wash them down with a cup of Belgian hot chocolate or custom Brooklyn Roasting Company coffee.

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East Village
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4

Jam in Chicago, IL

One of Chicago’s favorite brunch spots, Jam specializes in creative takes on classic morning food like French toast jazzed up with lime leaf cream and eggs Benedict umami-ed up with maitake mushroom hollandaise. The savory waffle special is, well, off the hook: a towering Belgian-style waffle with braised pork shoulder, pickled cabbage and two sunnyside-up eggs.

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Logan Square
5

Salt and Sugar Cafe and Bakery in Seattle, WA

A move that could perhaps only be successfully pulled off in Seattle, this adorable breakfast spot serves only two items: fancy toasts (date jam, spinach pesto) and waffles. Happily, both items are rendered perfectly, particularly the wildly creative waffles available in flavors like the savory Washington, with baked-in pancetta, a cap of melty cheddar, plus apple butter and fresh sliced apples. We also love the sweet Cobbler, scattered with fresh blueberries, homemade streusel, a dollop of whipped cream and maple syrup.

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Adams
6

Forthright in Austin, TX

This spacious Austin cafe is the perfect place to while away an afternoon with a mug of strong Sightglass coffee, preferably out on the restaurant’s leafy patio. Its creative menu is stacked with hippie-influenced but deeply delicious fare such as an indulgent chia pudding with coconut milk and maple syrup, and thick-cut toast heaped with wild mushrooms and two poached eggs. Don’t leave without digging into the over-the-top house waffle sandwich, two chewy, buttery waffles stuffed with smoked bacon, gruyere cheese, maple syrup and an over-easy egg.

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Downtown
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7

Little Skillet in San Francisco, CA

This tiny off-shoot of Farmerbrown is so well hidden down an alley in SoMa that you’d almost miss it—that is, if it weren’t for the scent of waffles wafting through the air and the constant crowds lined up outside the window waiting to get their fried chicken fix. Two pieces of crispy chicken and two smaller Belgian waffles are $10.50, which makes for a perfectly filling (if not slightly indulgent) weekday lunch. The good news for those who don’t want to eat their chicken and waffles while sitting on a loading dock is that you can now order and eat your grub at Victory Hall & Parlor, which is right next door.

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South Beach
8

Jack Flaps in Cleveland, OH

See what they did with the name? While this Cleveland breakfast joint’s moniker might be a bit silly, its menu of over-the-top pancakes and waffles is serious stuff. Available in both sweet and savory combos that would make even a glutton blush, Jack Flaps’s waffles are golden, generously sized and come heaped with add-ons like whipped cream cheese, white chocolate and toasted marshmallows. For us, there’s only one way to go: the Fat Elvis, crowned with whipped peanut butter frosting and piled with bananas and crunchy bacon praline.

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Tower City District
9

Morgan’s in Miami, FL

This Wynwood staple is a favorite among Miami brunchers and lunchers for its filling but wholesome family-friendly fare, like a kale and quinoa bowl with bright chimichurri and a juicy turkey burger capped with melty gruyere cheese. At breakfast and brunch, the chocolate-dipped waffle is the way to go: an indulgently cocoa-lacquered waffle topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and mounded with fresh whipped cream and tart strawberries.

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10

Clinton Street Baking Company in New York, NY

Whether you’re craving a seasonally flavored muffin or a cold treat from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, this stroller-friendly bakery-café has what you need. That’s especially true at breakfast time, when light-as-a-feather pancakes and crisp, golden waffles fly out of the East Village kitchen at an impressive pace. In the latter category, go all the way with the cafe’s special chicken and waffles: crisp-fried breast with honey-tabasco sauce piled atop a Belgian vanilla buttermilk waffle and finished with a knob of warm maple butter.

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Lower East Side
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