The pancake has come a long way since its creation. Historically, Christians cooked pancakes to avoid wasted dairy products before lent. Now, the pancake is a staple include on most breakfast and brunch menus. Pancakes range from simple to gourmet. The humble pancake holds a special place in my heart. It’s simple, customizable, and packed with comfort. For all occasions, I can count on this quintessential breakfast dish to always bring me joy. I have been curious to know which local restaurants represented this diner-hero to it’s ultimate satisfaction.
Before getting started on my tour of the best pancakes in town – I am certain some of you will wonder why your number one pancake choice is not mentioned. The reason is I didn’t find the pancakes in some popular cafes extraordinary. The adoration of these pancakes baffled me. I don’t mean to disrespect any griddle cake. Let’s just say, pancakes are personal.
Salt Lake has some excellent pancakes. I can say that having sampled most if not all flapjacks. The list I sampled are my top choices. There is no particular order. I have included caveats and reasons for each option, such as restaurant atmosphere, service, creativity, etc. I advise you to try every pancake on this list. They are all equally enjoyable. Please keep in mind that taste is subjective. These were the most consistently delicious and memorable, for me.
I have some criteria for what makes a great pancake. The pancake must be soft but not mushy. There should be some need for chewing even after adding toppings. The structure of the pancake maintained throughout the meal. Plus, the cakes must be aesthetically pleasing. No docked points for overspill or inconsistency in the circular shape. That said, I want to feel there was an effort in making a nice-looking plate. Toppings and additions (i.e., cream, fruit, etc.) are appreciated but not a requirement. Finally, the taste must not rely on a topping or syrup.
The pancakes in this article are all very different, some even unconventional. All are delicious and deserve to have a place in your stomach. Enjoy and Happy Flap Jacking.
Brunch at White Horse is an event. This Main Street restaurant has a beautiful dining room that is perfect for any occasion. The menu offers a selection of gourmet tartines, eggs benedict, and house-made bacon. The standout in my opinion is the lemon ricotta griddle cakes. Served with rye whiskey maple syrup, fruit, and fresh ricotta. Beautiful but not “too pretty to eat.” The texture is thick and spongy with a taste that is out of this world. The flavor reminds me of an old-fashioned lemon donut with a citrus flavor that is not overpowering. The cakes are sweet and indulgent. They are rich and straightforward. Even without topping, they are outstanding, but enhanced and perfected with maple syrup and ricotta. The soft, mild cheese adds a fun texture and balances the sweetness of the syrup, as does the lemon. There is not much to critique about this morning star dish. Perhaps they could add an additional cake, so they don’t disappear so quickly.
Trolley Cottage Cafe
Trolley Cottage opened recently and immediately became a favorite for breakfast and brunch fans. The calm, quaint atmosphere and French-inspired menu are hard to resist. But their twist on classic buttermilk pancake is a real showstopper. The entrees at Trolley Cottage are beautiful, and the pancakes are no exception. A stack of three cakes is topped with mascarpone cheese, fruit, and syrup. The texture is delicate with each bite melting on your tongue. The batter has a mild savory sweetness from the balance of sugar and salt. Paired with mascarpone and fruit, the dish becomes irresistible. Trolley Cottage’s pancakes are nostalgic and unique. They’ve managed to keep it simple and remain a standout from the ordinary pancake. The texture is perhaps a little too airy, but overall, it’s a magnificent flapjack. The dish is beautiful. Like me, you may want to snap an Instagram photo.
Hub And Spoke
Hub and Spoke is an ever-crowded sugarhouse eatery known for its chicken, waffles, and boozy milkshakes. I argue that their pancakes are worthy of equal attention. No matter what I order at Hub and Spoke, I also include a pancake on the side. The cake is perfectly proportioned in size and density. It is satisfying but not too filling. It arrives with a dollop of butter and a side of warm maple syrup. The taste and texture of the cake are phenomenal. Rich in fragrant vanilla, enhancing every bite. On its own, the pancake is sweet but not too sweet. Adding butter and the syrup creates a rich indulgence in every way. The texture is balanced with a bit of chew and the right amount of softness. Most importantly, it absorbs moisture without becoming soggy. In full disclosure, this pancake may be my favorite. Therefore, I have no criticism. Hub and Spoke prepares an excellent flapjack.
Over The Counter Cafe
The pancake at OTC requires zero preambles. Over the Counter is the classic diner. The bustling café draws massive crowds for its consistently delicious breakfast and brunch fare. For a classic, simple diner pancake, this is my top choice. The pancakes are expertly made and beautifully golden brown. The texture is thick and spongy, with a good crumb structure stirred into the batter. The base flavor is more savory than sweet, invoking, for me, nostalgia. Topped with whipped butter that adds the perfect amount of moisture. They are delicious without syrup or jam, but these additions are welcomed. The syrup is from a bottle, and the jam is Smuckers. I believe a side of heated genuine maple syrup and/or house made jam would be ideal. Regardless, these hotcakes are terrific. Over the Counter is a must for pancake and breakfast lovers alike.
2343 E 3300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84109
Café 140b is a new addition to Salt Lake City’s breakfast and brunch scene. This garden side cafe has become a favorite due to excellent service and delicious pioneer-inspired fare. The cottage cakes are a creative spin on the classic pancake and are genuinely one of a kind. Two cakes arrive beautifully adorned with jam, strawberries, whipped cream, and powdered sugar. They have a hearty texture, achieved using yogurt and eggs. The taste is light and creamy paired with toppings, in particular the jam. Café 140b cakes are indeed an experience. I’d recommend the cottage cakes for a step outside the ordinary without compromising flavor.
Lazy Day Cafe
There’s nowhere quite like Lazy Day Cafe. The tiny strip mall diner is popular among locals for simple breakfast classics. The lemon pancakes are a standout. The cakes are very dense, serve like a comfortable neck pillow. They are served with a side of homemade buttermilk syrup. The lemon pancakes at Lazy Day taste incredible and invoke similar textures to a pound cake or fresh donut. The lemon is complemented with the caramel like buttermilk syrup. A dessert for breakfast. These are not every day pancakes. They are rich and dense. If you ask me, it’s worth the risk. Be ready for this beautiful sensory overload.
The Pearl is another powerhouse of culinary magic added to the Central 9th neighborhood. They offer craft cocktails and Vietnamese street food. Sunday brunch at The Pearl is where you’ll find the fantastic Ube Pancakes. Ube is a purple yam used primarily in Southeast Asian desserts such as pudding and sweet breads. Its flavor is sweet and mild, like vanilla. A stack of two pancakes are beautifully toned with the natural color of the ube potato. Topped with fruit and sweetened condensed milk plus a side of syrup just for fun. The pancakes are sweet yet earthy with a nice firm texture like brioche. The sweetened condensed milk adds moisture reminding me of a tres leches cake. The syrup adds further richness. I can’t criticize the decadence of this dish. It is a one-of-a-kind experience, and I’m confident any pancake lover would enjoy the ride.
Honorable pancake mentions
The Park Cafe
Although it’s not my personal favorite, I realize The Park Café is beloved among many. It’s delicious and traditional. The Park Cafe pancake is the size of a standard plate served with butter and syrup. It is a typical diner hot cake but deserves recognition, nonetheless.
I’ve found Roots Cafe to be inconsistent regarding their pancakes. However, the creativity of their daily pancake deserves recognition. Roots has a new pancake every day that can be ordered as a single side or entree. I enjoyed the lemon lavender pancake. Mild lemon flavor with a floral lavender finish. Beautiful, light texture. The walnut pancake and the orange mint pancake did not stack up in the same way. Both were a bit dry, and the flavor combination overpowering. Roots is worth the visit and the pancakes worth a try.
Manoli’s myzithra pancake is a definite brunch favorite. However, not my favorite. I realize this is a personal bias. It is unique and beloved, so I am including it as an honorable mention. The pancake is a thick with a bread-like texture and mild savory flavor due to the cheese. It is unlike any pancake on this list. I absolutely suggest you try it. Although if you visit Manoli’s consider ordering the breakfast sandwich and split the pancakes. Just sayin’…
That sums it up! You should be well on your way to planning your next outing for delicious hotcakes. Salt Lake City has an abundance of unique and traditional flapjacks. Please remember that my favorites are only my own. I am here to guide you toward delicious griddle-cooked sweets. If I missed any, please let me know! Good luck and have an excellent breakfast.
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My name is Pete Souvall, I am a blogger and food writer from Salt Lake City. I eas raised and have lived here most of my life. Though I spent years living in several different areas along the west coast I settled back in to Utah life in 2020. I’ve held several jobs in the restaurant industry including line cook, prep chef, and barista. But in general I just have a passion for everything related to food.
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