Pancakes, flapjacks, silver dollars – no matter what your kids call them, we know they love them. This year, March 4 is National Pancake Day, so we’ve done the hard work of finding the best spots in our brunch-loving city to find pancake paradise all year long. From plain ol’ tried and true to the gourmet, read on to find the top choices for every taste.
For Nutella goodness: Sugar Factory
Do you need to know anything more than the fact that they have a Nutella-focused breakfast treat? It’s topped with melted hazelnut chocolate, whipped cream and served with warm maple syrup. ‘Nuf said.
For fruity delights: M.henry
The blackberry bliss cakes live up to their name. These heavenly hotcakes are pillows of pancake-y goodness with silky vanilla marscapone slathered on each bite. Topped with blackberries and an apple crisp-like crumble, they will make the whole family dream for days.
5707 N. Clark St., Andersonville (773-561-1600 or mhenry.net)
For sweet simplicity: Sweet Maple Cafe
No need to be fancy: These no-frill pancakes are made from an original family recipe and served with Vermont maple syrup and pure butter. The space itself is small and homey (with free parking across the street); it’ll remind you of rolling out of bed at Grandma’s to the smell of pancakes on the griddle.
1339 W. Taylor St., Little Italy (312-243-8908 or sweetmaplecafe.com)
photo: Bongo Room via Daniel L. on Yelp
For total indulgence: Bongo Room
Warning: If you let your littles indulge in more than a short stack they may be bouncing off the walls until the end of the day. The good news is you’ll happily volunteer to clean their plates yourself. From gingerbread and caramelized pear to cranberry and cinnamon swirl pancakes (selections change often), these over-the-top creations taste more like dessert than breakfast.
1470 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wicker Park (773-489-0690); 5022 N. Clark St., Andersonville (773-728-7900); 1152 S. Wabash St., South Loop (312-291-0100); Online: thebongoroom.com
For birthday pancakes: Southport Grocery and Cafe
Whoever thought to use cupcake batter to make pancakes is probably more of a genius to your child than Albert Einstein. This cafe makes some of the best cupcakes in town, which translates perfectly to the not-too-sweet griddled version served with vanilla butter. Oh, by the way, did we mention they’re gluten free?
3552 N. Southport Ave., Lakeview (773-665-0100 or southportgrocery.com)
photo: Walker Bros via Anya C. on Yelp
For sheer variety: Walker Bros.
This North Shore mainstay (it’s been around for over 50 years!) knows flapjacks. The menu has over a dozen varieties from the kiddie favorite “little dollars” to the oven-baked thick and gooey apple cinnamon pancake. Each location is super kid-friendly with plenty of high chairs and spots to sit while you wait for your table. Because, let’s face it: There will be a wait.
For good old fashioned goodness: Delia’s Kitchen
These pancakes are so delicious you’ll forget they could even be good for you! They’re made with healthy whole grain buckwheat and simplicity is key. The old-fashioned stack is served in a classic manner with butter and syrup. The only challenge may be ignoring the bacon pancakes listed on the menu. Be sure to try their blueberry lemon ricotta stacks. So, so, so good!
1034 W. Lake St., Oak Park (708-358-1300 or deliaskitchen.net)
photo: Blueberry Hill
For the fluffiest around: Blueberry Hill
If large fluffy flapjacks smothered in fruit are your pancake style, this is your holy grail. Triple berry, apple cinnamon, peach, pumpkin spiced and blueberry banana are just a few of the ways to top off your favorite breakfast treat.
Locations in: Oakbrook, Darien, Homer Glen, Aurora, LaGrange, Homewood and Plainfield; Online: blueberrybreakfastcafe.com
For a cultural twist: Svea Restaurant
Andersonville still brims with Scandinavian cultural influences, including the Swedish American Museum, which has a hands-on exhibition area for kids. But first, stop by Svea, an authentic Swedish restaurant-meets-diner. Try the paper-thin Swedish pancakes served with the fun-to-say, slightly tart lingonberry jam.
5236 N. Clark St., Andersonville (773-275-7738 or facebook.com/Svea-Restaurant)
For ooey gooey goodness: Wildberry
Cinnamon spice and everything nice (like a warm vanilla glaze) is what these pancakes are all about. Every bite mixes sweet and spicy perfectly. And if you visit the Chicago Randolph Street location, you and your kids can run off your sugar buzz across the street at Maggie Daley Park.
Locations in: Chicago (brand new Water Tower location), Libertyville and Schaumburg; Online: wildberrycafe.com
photo: Pannenkoeken Cafe
For a Dutch treat: Pannenkoeken Cafe
The owner of Pannenkoeken Café fell so in love with Holland’s large, thin, open-faced pancakes, that she studied how to make them and brought her skills back home to Chicago. The result is a small café with big pannenkoeken that come sweet (yummy chocolate banana) or savory (bacon and cheese? Yes, please!).
4757 N. Western Ave., Lincoln Square (773-769-8800 or pannenkoekencafe.com)
For a healthy start: Prasino
Gluten-free? Vegetarian? Vegan? Prasino has ‘em all and they are all delicious. We’re partial to the carrot cakes (vegetarian) made with fresh grated carrot, cinnamon and nutmeg topped with raisins, sweet cream and pecans.
93 S. La Grange, La Grange (708-469-7058 or prasino.com)
For a lunchtime pancake: CornerStone Cafe
You’ve probably driven by the CornerStone Café a million times. Next time, stop for pancakes — especially at lunchtime when you can have pigs in a blanket. We’re talking old-school pigs in a blanket with three sausage links wrapped in some of the fluffiest pancakes you’ll ever eat.
2753 N. Western Ave., Bucktown (773-235-1155); 2200 N. Clybourn, Lincoln Park (773-270-4343); Online: chicagocornerstonecafe.com
By popular demand: The Original Pancake House
Time and time again Chicagoans shout the praises of The Original Pancake House. And, holy cow, with their speciality being The Original World Famous Apple Pancake oven baked with sliced Granny Smith apples and cinnamon sugar glaze, anyone can understand why. Snuggle in with that on a cold winter’s day and don’t even feel a tiny bit guilty about it.
What is YOUR favorite place to throw down this sweet breakfast treat? Let us know in the Comments!
— Maria Chambers and Jen Peterson