Even in Los Angeles, unabashedly a city of carbophobes, we stack our pancakes like we stack our weights: high and proud. There are a handful of restaurants putting out some of the most interesting, most fluffy, most toothsome cakes in town, and I, ever your obedient servant, am here to guide you through the buttery and griddled landscape. Here are 12 you need to try:
Let’s start with the obvious. Griddle Café is an L.A. staple, as evidenced by the totally bonkers crowd gathered outside of the establishment on weekends. Perhaps it’s because the pancakes there are the size of small car tires, or maybe it’s because everything on their menu—from the humble Good Ol’ Fashioned buttermilk cake to the red velvet cakes piped with a pinwheel of cream cheese frosting to the outrageous(ly delicious) Scotch on the Rocks (coconut, pecan, oat, and butterscotch chip) cakes—comes out griddled to perfection. The line might make you want to die, but the wait is well worth it. > 7916 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 874-0377
The best American/banana pancakes in L.A. 👆🏼🇺🇸🍪🍌 #americanpancakes #bananapancakes #americandiner #swingersdiner #FoodBeforeFashionInLA
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You might not expect this pseudo-greasy spoon diner to have life-changing vegan chocolate chip pancakes, but I’m here to tell you something: they have life-changing vegan chocolate chip pancakes. You’ll feel weirdly healthy eating them despite the fact that once you’ve decimated the stack, your plate will be covered in streaks of chocolate and residual pools of syrup. > 8020 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 653-5858 or 802 Broadway, Santa Monica, (310) 393-9793
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Is butter a carb? Wait—who cares. The pancakes at Du-Par’s are “legendary” for a reason: a portion of melted butter as thrilling as it is horrifying is mixed into the batter before it even hits the griddle. It’s then brought to your table drenched in clarified butter. > 6333 W 3rd St., Los Angeles. (323) 933-8446
Manhattan Beach’s go-to pancake spot serves up 12 varieties, but the only one you need concern yourself with is banana nut. I don’t care if you’re one of those people who uses a fork to dissect all three pancakes at once (wrong way to do it) or who eats them one cake at a time. Just eat them. > 1305 Highland Ave. Manhattan Beach, (310) 545-5177
There are certain moments that indelibly alter the course of your life. One of those moments will be eating the oatmeal griddle cakes—served with cinnamon molasses butter—at Salt’s Cure. I don’t know how to impress more urgency on you than that. > 1155 N. Highland Ave. Los Angeles, (323) 465-7258
House #Pancakes & #Avocado TLT at #KitchenMouse the other morning… #LA, I’ve missed you! 💥 #nastyvegan #eatright #foodstagram #foodie #peta #plantbased #plantpower #crueltyfree #healthy #cleaneating #foodblog #nutrition #veganhype #veganfoodporn #theveganlife #vegan #veganshit #veganlife #whatveganseat #veganaf #veganfoodshare #veganeveryday #vegansofig #veganfood #veganislife #veganjunkfood
This precious, bright, hole-in-the-wall joint in Highland Park has the best gluten-free pancakes in the city. (I’m not just saying this because they won our Best of L.A. award for gluten free pancakes, but I also ate approx. 1,000 gluten-free pancakes reporting that story, so I’m confident in my assessment.) The cakes are spiced with a mix of cinnamon and magic, then they’re topped with berries and toasted coconut. Fluffy, perfect, and—bonus!—vegan. Get a little wild and have them with coconut milk whipped cream. > 5904 N. Figueroa St. Los Angeles, (323) 259-9555
It’s all but an L.A. rite of passage to inhale a plate of the Pantry’s old-school buttermilk flapjacks (listed on the menu simply as “pancakes.”) They’re dense, they’re chewy, they lap up rivers of syrup like a thirsty man laps water from a well. If you ever want to eat them, though, consider going at an off-time—by which we mean 1:30 a.m., because the 24/7/365 spot is pretty much packed around the clock. > 877 South Figueroa St. Los Angeles, (213) 972-9279
The city lost its best ricotta pancake—the crispy-on-the-outside yet soft-in-the-middle skillet-born miracle from Superba Snack Bar—in January 2016. In January of this year, BLD shut its doors, which means no more ricotta blueberry cakes with syrup served in a tiny vessel resembling a log cabin. Which leaves us with Little Dom’s excellent cheese-and-fruit pancakes. The ricotta is fresh and so are the berries, giving them a leg up on other pancakes around town (frozen berries never a solid pancake make). Let’s just pray that the January “We’re Closing” Curse never makes its way to Little Dom’s. > 2128 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 661-0088
There’s something about the pancakes at Modern Eats that will haunt your dreams. Perhaps it’s the spiced batter (do we detect hints of cardamom?), or maybe the fact that they’re served with a house-made Fuji apple compote, which is as fun to say out loud as it is to eat. As if that weren’t enough, you can enjoy their Wizardcakes (trademark that) on a dog-friendly patio. > 2590 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake.
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Brentwood’s go-to spot for healthy Mediterranean fare (their name literally means “to your health” in French) isn’t strictly a breakfast joint, but they serve up pancakes seven days a week (til 3 p.m. on weekdays and 4 p.m. on weekends). They have three varieties: gluten-free oatmeal, blue corn with banana, and yellow corn with blueberries, all of which are naturally sweetened. Order them a little undercooked if you want to live your best pancake life. > 13018 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood.
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Yet another gluten free option that taste as good as their OG b-milk counterparts are the Organic Brown Rice pancakes at Café Vida in Culver City or the Pacific Palisades. (Don’t expect to find these at the location in El Segundo, because you won’t.) These thinner griddle cakes are super crispy and loaded with flax and chia seeds, almonds, and berries. > 9755 Culver Blvd., Culver City.
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Sycamore kitchen steps up the buttermilk game by adding rye to their batter, which will blow your breakfast mind with a nuance you never knew you needed. Served with a heap of salted butter and maple syrup, the golden cakes taste familiar yet surprising—which is the best kind of taste, if I may be so bold. > 143 S La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 939-0151
Marielle Wakim is the Arts and Culture Editor at Los Angeles magazine. She went viral once, which is not how she thought she’d spend her 15 minutes of fame. You can follow her on Twitter @mariellewakim, on Instagram @marielle.m.n.o.p, and on her website. She wrote “It” Animals, Ranked.