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16 Best Restaurant Chain Breakfasts in America

16 Best Restaurant Chain Breakfasts in America



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Wake up and smell the coffee at these tasty breakfast spots

Who do you think should be the breakfast-chain champion?

Breakfast is a sacred time of the day. It kick-starts our metabolisms, satisfies our morning hunger pangs, and helps us take on the day. America adores this meal and is happy to eat it at any time. While breakfast is revered on the regular, it suddenly takes on a whole new level of importance after a particularly rambunctious evening. Whether you just won the big game or are crawling in after a night of gratuitous partying, breakfast is a time to nurse wounds, satisfy cravings, and bond over a delicious meal.

Click here for the 16 Best Restaurant Chain Breakfasts in America (Slideshow)

But when you’re in need of a pancake at midnight or long for an omelette after your morning errands, where can you go and which place is the best? To help make your most important morning decision a little easier, we sought out to discover which chain offers the best breakfast for first-meal lovers.

How did we decide who was the reigning breakfast champ?

We searched for the largest, most well-known chains for breakfast and pitted them against each other by five defining criteria. First, we rated each chain on the number of value meals available. These options are the heartiest, best bang for your buck dishes on the menu that get you a little taste of every type of breakfast. We then considered the amount of menu options available in total that favor breakfast and the variety that was available. Average customer ranking across the board from a one to five rating played an important role as well. We then assigned a value to the hours of operation a restaurant kept, weighing in favor of spots that were open 24/7 and had breakfast available at any time versus all day breakfasts with limited hours and spots that only offered morning breakfast options. For the last factor of our analysis, we considered editorial discretion that took things like number of locations, menu variety, and overall appeal into consideration.

So from West Coast favorites to nationwide spots, we ranked the best restaurant chain breakfasts available. To learn who nabbed the number one spot, click through our slideshow!

Lauren Gordon is the Entertain and Holidays Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on twitter @laurengordon88


I've Eaten At Nearly Every Single Chain Restaurant&mdashThese Are The Best Menu Items

Two years later and 20 restaurants down, this is our official list.

People always ask: What are the *best* chain restaurant menu items? Honestly, I've tried too many to count they've all become a massive blur in my memory. So, to make your lives easier (and, selfishly, mine), I've made the official ranking of the best menu items at each restaurant I've visited. Buckle up y'all.

It truly hits the spot. The cherry tomatoes break up the creamy parm and rich lobster. Bring your sweatpants for this one.

That's right&mdasha burger didn't make this list for Hard Rock. (We were shocked too.) This pork sandwich comes with creamy, cold coleslaw and a thin slice of apple which gives a lil crunch.

One pop of these and you truly can't stop. The cream cheese frosting dipping sauce deserves to be bottled up and sold.

If you're going to get steak&mdashyou've gotta head to Outback. And if you're going to Outback, you can only order the bone-in natural cut ribeye. Its seasoning is simple and lets the meat shine through, which, by the way,melts like butter.

This was the most popular pizza when we polled our fans and we understand why. The combination of cilantro, steak, and Monterey jack cheese is a huge win.

I'd serve this at my wedding. It's creamy, savory, and tastes like luxury yet it doesn't break the bank.

Truly good luck attempting to share these. The crunch from the breading and the zip of flavor from the lemony-garlic shrimp will keep you coming back for more. And more. And more.

The burger is served on a toasted sourdough roll rather than a soggy burger bun which really gives it an oomph.

You're not alone in loving these. The fried rolls are the chain's most popular appetizer. The tamarind-cashew dipping sauce sends you to cloud nine.

You might think the ribs or margaritas would make the list for Chili's&mdashbut they don&rsquot stand a chance. The hand-battered chicken is oddly squishy and soft, which, yes, at first sounds like a negative, but when you bite into it, it's an addicting texture. Try one soft chicken tender and you'll never go back.

This is the most popular menu item at P.F. Chang's and there's a good reason for it. It's light, super crunchy, and tangy. Definitely order for the table.

This dish was actually made by accident! One of the founders took all the leftovers from the walk-in freezer, threw it together, and created a beautiful medley of creamy, cheesy pasta with moist chicken.

It's stuffed with mini cheesecake bites and topped with glazed strawberries. It's like dessert for breakfast!

Do not let the cute name fool you. These are spicy, sweet, and most importantly, they're delicious.

Hawaiian pizza has a bad rep, but Hawaiian burgers. not so much. The teriyaki glaze on the burger takes the patty over the edge.

We're not basing this list on quantity, but it's important for you to know Texas Roadhouse's ribs are the size of your entire forearm (and maybe more). They're savory yet sweet and the meat is perfectly juicy.

These are a staple! If you ask the servers why they're called "fried" apples, they'll tell you they have no idea it's a misnomer because they're actually sweet, sticky, and caramelized. If they decide to fry them though. I will be first in line to try.

This menu item is so good, it went from only being served on Wednesdays to being available every day of the week. Chicken pot pie is easy to mess up and can turn into a soggy soup, but Cracker Barrel's tastes like your grandma made it by hand the same day.

This is the softest, fudgiest cake you'll ever have. It's like a brownie and a cake had a baby.

If you've ever been to Bonefish Grill, it's pretty obvious this would take first place. It's spicy, creamy, crunchy and impossible to stop eating.


The Buffet Everyone Is Talking About In Your State

Buffets might bring to mind minimal hotel breakfasts and cheesy resort restaurants, but the impressive spreads at these spots are a different story. The highest-rated restaurant buffets according to Foursquare City Guide run the gamut, from popular brunch spots to self-serve oyster bars, to decked-out Indian buffets. They'll definitely have you coming back for seconds.

"You can never go wrong with chicken tikka masala and naan, of course " &mdash Foursquare user Felicia Morgan

"Everything is good at Cobalt, but the view is the BEST on the island. They have a wonderful breakfast buffet . " &mdash Foursquare user Caribe Resort

Tokyo House, Little Rock

"This place is amazing. For the price, you can't beat the quality of sushi anywhere in town. The buffet is always delicious and the red bean ice cream is phenomenal. Try it or you're missing out. " &mdash Foursquare user Michael Golleher

Proof, Scottsdale

"Impressive breakfast buffet , with a wide selection of choices. The loaded potatoes are second-helping delicious. " &mdash Foursquare user Dress for the Date

Amber India, San Fransisco

"The lunch buffet is tasty and comes with bottomless mimosas. 🍹 Definitely on the expensive side, but it's worth it to treat yourself every so often! " &mdash Foursquare user Annie Jalota


The Best Late-Night Food in the U.S.A.

Ham. Swiss. Lettuce. Hot sauce. White sauce (secret). Colby cheese. A roll from Hugo's Bakery up the street. And, of course, taco meat, ground daily at L&M Meats up the other street. Open till: 2:30 A.M. Friday and Saturday, 1:30 A.M. Other days 1011 University Avenue 701-775-9671 redpepper.com

The clientele aren't drinking PBR because it's hip, bitches. They're drinking it because their stamped-leather-belted asses have been parked on those barstools since about 11:00 this morning and there's no punk kid gonna kick them off until someone plays Hank Williams on the jukebox. Don't ask if they have any microbrews. Oh, and there is no buffet. Just cheeseburgers. The cheeseburgers are perfect. 2:00 A.M. 312 East Market Street 319-351-9614

Big round tables fill this tiny, weirdly named place south of the Loop. The waiters are so angry it's endearing. An enormous menu dares your brain to stray from what you know. The starters &mdash knockout egg rolls, pot stickers &mdash might finish you off, but try the spicy Mongolian beef or salt-and-pepper shrimp and you'll understand why Chicagoans like their original happiness in threes. 24/7 209 West Cermak Road 312-842-1964

They up the meat-and-pita game here by wrapping in cabbage and french fries and slathering on garlic paste. Good after a few pints of Motor City Brewing Works' Ghettoblaster ale, which you're likely to have drunk, since the Bucharest is located inside a bar. 2:00 A.M. 2040 Park Avenue 313-965-3111 bucharestgrill.com

You know what the wings taste like. Get the Buffito instead, an alchemy of Buffalo chicken, blue cheese, and burrito fixings. Cut the heat with a Loganberry, a raspberry-blackberry drink sold only in these parts. People drive hours to do this. 2:00 A.M. Friday and Saturday multiple locations mightytaco.com

Yankee pot roast for the downstaters, lobster rolls for the tourists, and eggs how you like 'em all day. Save room for pie. 24/7 530 Cold Brook Road 207-942-4878 dysarts.com

Bostonians have made do with less for centuries. Just ask anyone trying to find an open restaurant after last call. But South Street defies the city's abstemious ways, serving up-to-the-brim plates of breakfast staples and burgers. Don't forget to feed the jukebox. 24/7 178 Kneeland Street 617-350-0028 southstreetdiner.com

Where everyone ends up. There's always a fight. The pizza's not bad. 2:00 A.M. 372 Thames Street 401-846-4074

Louis Lassen may well have invented the hamburger, and his great-grandson still slings them from the same counter for the benefit of Yale's drunken, hungry male population. Burgers are hand-patted daily, cooked on ancient, sinister-looking vertical cast-iron griddles, and served between two slices of toasted white bread &mdash the way Louis did it in 1900, predating the bun. You can get your hamburger sandwich topped with onions, tomato, and a squirt of Cheez-Wiz. Just don't ask for anything else. 2:00 A.M. Thursday through Saturday 261 &mdash 263 Crown Street 203-562-5507 louislunch.com

Little-known secret: Korea-town is always the most fun neighborhood of any city. In restaurants, people sing, usually well. Skylines of OB beer bottles and glasses of soju (cold Korean vodka) cover the tables. And the food &mdash like pajun, a spongy pancake studded with chunks of shrimp and squid and panfried to a golden crisp &mdash never stops. Wonjo is all of this. 24/7 23 West Thirty-second Street 212-695-5815 new-wonjo.com

Ethereal Chinese. Call for delivery or grab a seat and start ordering &mdash till sunrise, if you like. 6:00 A.M. 549 Metropolitan Avenue 718-384-8008 mnoodleshop.com

When it's late and you're drunk in Pittsburgh, what you do &mdash what everyone does &mdash is go to Primanti Bros., down in the Strip District since the thirties. You get what they call their number-two best seller &mdash they put fries and slaw right in the sandwich. Wash it down with one last beer and disappear into the fuzzy end-of-the-night chaos. 24/7 46 Eighteenth Street 412-263-2142 primantibros.com

It's quiet. You're alone in a dark alley, hungry for doughnuts. You could be out of luck (in a lot of ways) unless the dark, quiet alley happens to be the one in which a glowing orange OPEN sign hangs in the window of a nondescript shoebox of a shop. Same family, same recipe, same perfect doughnuts since 1934. 2:00 A.M. 912 Maryland Avenue 301-733-6103 krumpesdonuts.com

The later it gets, the funnier the name of this place becomes. 5:00 A.M. Friday and Saturday, 3:00 A.M. other days 610 H Street NW 202-628-0491 newbigwong.com

The fried chicken in Kentucky is the best in the world, and the fried chicken in Louisville is the best in Kentucky, and the fried chicken at Indi's is the best in Louisville . so, transitive property, Indi's fried chicken is the best in the world. Get the spicy version plus the special hot sauce for twenty-five cents extra. Late night is a little sketchy &mdash the protective glass you have to order through isn't comforting &mdash but you can always do the drive-through. 2:00 A.M. Friday and Saturday, 1:00 A.M. other days 4419 Cane Run Road 502-448-1108

&mdashChef Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia

If Nashville's hottest restaurant, the Catbird Seat, is the cloister that feeds your soul, then the Patterson House, its retro-speakeasy downstairs, is the shadowy refectory where the monks (in this case, bartenders) feed your hunger. There's something addictive in those tater tots. 3:00 A.M. 1711 Division Street 615-636-7724 thepattersonnashville.com

Fried oysters and a fine collection of bourbons should hold you until ten, when chef Linton Hopkins rolls out exactly twenty-four double-patty cheeseburgers. Every fixing is made in-house, from the ketchup to the bread-and-butter pickles. 1:30 A.M. 2277 Peachtree Road, Suite B 404-948-1175 holeman-finch.com

Your first decision at this strip-mall hideaway is where to sit. The bar's on your right. The sushi bar is straight ahead. Pick one. If it's after eleven, it's two-for-one drinks, which leads to your next decision: beer, wine, sake, or cocktails. But your last decision is the hardest, given Yakko-San's sizable menu of sushi, tempura, noodles, and other Japanese comfort foods. Here's help: seafood-miso hot pot. Pork sautéed with kimchi. Grilled yellowtail jowl. Sake-steamed clams. Now go. 3:00 A.M. 3881 NE 163rd Street 305-947-0064 yakko-san.com

They're almost an inch thick and soak up anything they touch &mdash syrup, melted ice cream, the smear of bacon grease on the side of your plate. Same as they have since 1961. 24/7 3427 South Kingshighway Boulevard 314-832-1973

There will be a wait. And it's one of those places where you have to be decisive. And you should avoid the bathroom. But forget these annoyances and order the jambalaya, rich with soft rabbit meat and smoked-pork sausage, bound with just enough tomato-y rice. As jambalaya should be, at any hour. 1:00 A.M. Friday and Saturday 1109 Decatur Street 504-525-9053 coopsplace.net

So the omelet makers of Austin had a feud, and all of a sudden (following a spirited renaming contest) the legendary Omelettry West became the Magnolia Cafe, owing to the giant magnolia out front. (Second-place entry: the Eggloo.) I will never recover from the split, and it will always be the Omelettry to me, because change must sometimes be resisted. And in every other way, the place hasn't changed: still got the SORRY, WE'RE OPEN sign out front, still a bunch of dirty hippies making the best omelets in the world. There's a big city pool next door, and after a long day and night of working on losing campaigns &mdash say, 2:00 A.M. &mdash I'd break the law and climb the tall fence for a swim, then head over for a pot of coffee and the most beautiful plate of food you ever saw. A perfect evening in Austin. Because the Omelettry &mdash sorry, the Magnolia &mdash never closes. 24/7 2304 Lake Austin Boulevard 512-478-8645 themagnoliacafe.com

One of a mishmash of o's &mdash Alerto's, Alejandro's, Alberto's, Rolando's &mdash colloquially referred to as "yellow-sign Mexican" because they all have the same backlit yellow plastic signs signaling twenty-four hours of grease and hot sauce. It's a hole. It's a stop on the way to the beach, or back from the beach. It's where you can find a wrap that pushes a pound, filled not just with carne asada but also that which defines West Coast fast-food: french fries. It's not just where the freeway ends and the Pacific Coast Highway leads into the boardwalk but also where crinkle fries become, truly become, part of the Mexican tradition. 24/7 801 West Nineteenth Street949-631-2561

The local Hispanic population calls them carritos: hot plates on wooden boxes with a couple of wheels. Onions, buns, and crackling pork fat swim in pools of grease on tinny metal grills. By health-department standards, it's illegal. The best things often are. Late.


11 Unexpected Breakfast Sandwiches You Never Thought to Make in the Dining Hall

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Josh Billings once said, “Never work before breakfast. If you have to work before breakfast, get your breakfast first.”

Ranked as one of the 14 Best College Dining Halls in America, Cornell dining offers a great deal of ingredients that has inspired me to come up with 11 of the most creative breakfast sandwiches.

You would be surprised however, that the ingredients are nothing out of the blue — ordinary, typical ones that can be found in any College dining hall across the country. Yet, it is the unusual, yet magical food combinations in these breakfast sandwiches that make them just so exciting. Exactly what you’ll need to provide your mornings with an extra kick and help keep you going for the rest of the day.

1. Yogurt & Berries Waffle Sandwich

Who said waffles could only be eaten with butter and maple syrup? For that morning guilty pleasure, try sandwiching yogurt and berries in between your waffles and finish it off with a drizzle of maple syrup.

You definitely deserve this reward after waiting so patiently for your waffles to be cooked.

2. Sweet & Savory Waffle Sandwich

And if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, have your waffle sandwich with bacon, peaches and maple syrup. Definitely not a common combination, but it’s sure to wake you and all those tastebuds in the morning.

3. Classic Elvis

I’m sure most of us can agree that nothing beats this classic Elvis Presley inspired sandwich. For mornings when you’re rushing to class and want your breakfast sandwich to go, try this peanut butter, bacon and banana combination. You’ll even get your daily protein and fiber fix with this one.

Indeed, honor the King and you will be rewarded with the perfect treat.

4. Grilled Sausage & Egg Sandwich

For a healthy start to the day, try this hearty combination of sausage and eggs in between toasted English muffins. You could use scrambled eggs, mashed up hard-boiled eggs, or even fried eggs the choice is up to you. It’s easy to make, and it’s sure to give you that much needed energy boost for the rest of the day.

Maple syrup? Sure, go ahead and drizzle if you wish. Cheese? Go ahead and add a slice or two. Lets just say its your very own customised Egg Mcmuffin.

5. Pork & Apple Sandwich

For those days when you miss your mother’s Thanksgiving Baked Ham and Apples dish, try this simple and substituted version of ham, strawberry jam and apples in between two lightly toasted whole wheat bread.

Sure, it’s not the same. But we’re college kids after all. We make the best out of what we can, don’t we?

6. Spicy Bacon & Egg Sandwich

For when you want that extra wake up call in the morning, try adding some heat with Sriracha sauce to your classic bacon and egg bagel sandwich.

You’re sure to get a fiery start that’ll keep you ahead of the pact.

7. Power Up Protein Sandwich

Fuel up with this high protein, fiber-rich sandwich made up of peanut butter, banana and high-protein Kashi GOLEAN Cereal on whole wheat toast.

Rich in carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, make your morning meal a breakfast of champions.

8. Strawberry Pancake Sandwich

On that one rare morning when the strawberries are out, take the opportunity to elevate your ordinary pancakes with strawberries and yogurt. If there aren’t any strawberries, don’t fret because whatever berries are fine too.

Crush up a little cereal of your choice for that added texture.

9. Apple & Yogurt Pancake Sandwich

For when you have a little more time in your hand that morning, slice up some apples and try this apple and yogurt pancake sandwich. Don’t forget to drizzle some honey or sprinkle some cinnamon sugar.

10. Strawberry Cream Cheese & Fruit French Toast Sandwich

Forget eating your French toast with plain old butter and maple syrup. Have them with strawberry cream cheese and some dried cranberries, raisins and apricot. Sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar and you’ve got yourself one indulgent breakfast sandwich.

11. PB & J & Cheese French Toast Sandwich

Sure, PB & J is a perfect combination, and cream cheese and French toast is a perfect combination too. But haven’t we always heard the phrase “the more the merrier”? For that extra flavor and heartiness, try adding a layer of cream cheese to your PB & J on a two slices of French toasts.

It definitely doesn’t hurt to combine two perfect pairs for one over-the-top combination, does it?


16 Regional Fast-Food Chains You Need To Know About

You can barely go anywhere these days without the logos of mega fast-food chains catching your eye, but big guns like McDonald's and Chick-fil-A can sometimes blind you to lesser-known &mdash and equally good &mdash regional spots. If you see these local chains on your next road trip, they're definitely worth a pit stop.

Location: Southeast

Ask any Southerner whether they've heard of this North Carolina-based chain, and you can bet your biscuits they've been more than once. Fried chicken dinners and flaky, buttery biscuits are the two must-order items, which can be complimented by Southern staples like dirty rice and grits or other comforting sides, like mashed potatoes and mac & cheese.

Location: South

Any chain beloved enough to be featured in an annual eating championship is one that we'd like to try, and Krystal certainly qualifies. Even non-competitors will want to order as many of their original Krystal burgers as they can stomach &mdash the "White Castle of the South" serves their sliders with diced onions, mustard and dill pickles on a signature, square-shaped bun. The mini hot dogs are pretty cute, too.

Location: California and Hawaii, plus various other locations

In the Phillipines, Jollibee holds a celebrity status comparable to McDonald's in the United States. The chain has a pretty unusual menu, combining items like Chickenjoy (fried chicken) meals with Jolly Spaghetti to create a meal that certainly won't bore your tastebuds.

The underdog items? The Aloha Burger, topped with bacon, pineapple and an epic special sauce and the mango peach pie, which might beat out Mickey D's classic apple.

Location: Midwest and east coast

If you're looking for a quick way to make friends in Pittsburgh (and beyond), show up to a party with a bucket of wings from this favorite chain. Their crispy thighs and drumsticks come tossed with all manner of sauces, the most daring of which is the Triple Atomic, clocking in at 500,000 Scoville units. Meat eaters who prefer to keep their tastebuds go for the half-pound steakburgers, topped with everything from bacon jam to Harissa mayo.

Location: Midwest

You're pretty much guaranteed to get two things at this Midwestern chain &mdash an ultra-cheerful greeting and a calorie-laden Butterburger. (For the uninitiated, that's a burger served on a buttered, toasted bun.) Locations have popped up across the country, but you'll find most in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, where there's alway an appetite for cheese sauce-slathered, crinkle-cut French fries and creamy, frozen custard.

Location: South, plus various other locations

Every little kid's dream of choosing their dinner from a menu full of chicken fingers comes true in this Louisiana-based chain. The fried chicken tenders are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, best served with a side of their secret-recipe Cane's sauce and buttery, grilled Texas toast. You know, in case you haven't met your carb quota for the day.

Location: Northeast and Midwest

Chipotle isn't the only respectable burrito joint in town. Panchero's gives the chain a run for its money with its fresh-pressed tortillas and focus on expert burrito-rolling &mdash no tears here. Burrito bowls, salads, tacos and quesadillas are also on the menu, and their homemade queso is leaps and bounds ahead of Chipotle's gritty version.

Location: Southwest

San Antonio is home to this burger joint, which boasts an orange "W" instead of golden arches and allegiance to the chain has spread throughout the Lone Star State and beyond. Not only do these burgers have significantly more heft, but the ability to customize puts Whataburger over the top. Choose the number of patties and any combination of condiments your heart desires.

Location: Midwest and Southeast, plus various other locations

The Dominos and Pizza Hut logos might be burned into your brain as go-to pizza spots, but keep an eye out for the yellow sign and cartoon character at this Michigan-founded chain and you won't regret it. The pies have epic flavor baked into the crust (choose from butter cheese, Cajun, garlic herb, ranch and more ) that put it a notch above other delivery joints, and other menu items like breadsticks, salads and calzone-sandwich hybrid "subs" aren't too shabby, either.

Location: South

In the South, every great night out ends with an early a.m. visit to Cook Out. This chain is known for it's serious variety, including over 40 milkshake flavors, and beats out most other burger joints by cooking their fresh, beef patties on an actual grill. If you need something to wash down your BBQ pork sandwich and side of hushpuppies, go ahead and order a "huge" beverage &mdash yes, that's what the size is called. This chain doesn't mince words.

Location: Midwest

The Iowa-founded Maid-Rite chain specializes in a particularly messy item known as the loose meat sandwich. It's a bun filled with a mixture of unseasoned ground beef and sautéed onions, but don't call it a sloppy joe &mdash there's no tomato sauce to be found here. If you're feeling fancy, top yours with blue cheese or cheddar and jalapeños, then round it all out with a diner-style malt or shake.

Location: Florida, North Carolina, Texas, plus various other locations

A tiny neighborhood restaurant in North Carolina called Tenders transformed into this drooled-over establishment, which has since set up shop throughout Florida and Texas. Made-from-scratch chicken tenders are the name of the game here, and you can watch the breading and cooking for yourself, thanks to the open-format kitchens. If tenders aren't your thing, may we suggest a honey butter chicken sandwich with a side of crispy, golden zucchini fries?

Location: Midwest

Nebraska's most iconic sandwich &mdash brought to the Midwest by German immigrants &mdash takes center stage at this ultra-regional chain. Sure, you'll find burgers, chicken sandwiches, and an odd invention called a "chili salad" on the menu, but the classic Runza is a winning order, consisting of a crusty bread roll stuffed with beef, cabbage and sautéed onions. Change it up with bacon or mushrooms, but definitely get a side of Frings (a combo of French fries and onion rings, obvi) with French onion dip and maybe even some cinnamon rolls for dessert.

Location: Midwest, South, and various other locations

With gourmet-sounding options like beer-battered fish tacos and carne asada fries, it's clear that this Mexican-inspired, fast-food stop takes things further than Taco Bell. Famous items like their bean-and-cheese dip and burritos &mdash spiced up with signature green or red sauce &mdash bring the flavor, but typical burgers and fries aren't off the table for those with more classic, American taste.

Location: California, plus various other locations

In-N-Out might be the talk of the town in California, but this chain took root in the state before "animal style" was part of our vocabulary. A former hot-dog cart in L.A., Carl's Jr. has since shifted to focus on burgers &mdash and big, juicy ones at that. Their $5 All-Star meals are tough to beat in terms of value, but don't count out other menu items like their hefty breakfast sandwiches.

Location: East Coast, plus various other locations

People along the east coast are fiercely loyal to this convenience store chain that's equipped with an efficient and surprisingly tasty hot food counter. The computerized ordering system lets you choose what you want, from hoagies to quesadillas to mac & cheese, and customize it down to the amount of butter on your roll. It's the ultimate place to fill up the gas tank, stock up on snacks and get a good meal in your belly before embarking on a road trip.


America's Healthiest Restaurants: Our List of the Best Casual Dining Spots

If you havent been to your local Unos recently, youre in for a great surprise. Sure, its famous deep-dish (read high-fat) pizzas still hold court, but nutrition has become the word of the day with a completely trans fat𠄿ree menu and plenty of grilled entrees (including antibiotic-free chicken). Adding to the healthy variety: whole-grain pasta and brown rice, organic coffee and tea, and flatbread pizzas that have half the calories of deep-dish ones. Plus, you can add a salad to your pizza for half-price because, according to the menu, “We want you to get some greens in your diet.” Now thats a blue-ribbon commitment to health. Another reason Unos is at the top of our list: You know what youre eating. In the lobbies of most of the restaurants locations, there are Nutrition Information Centers that detail ingredients, fat and sodium contents, and calories and fiber of every item, in addition to gluten-free options.

Danger zone: Deep-dish pizzas can pile on the fat.

We love: The Penne Bolognese—just 16 grams of fat (well within the daily recommended max of 65 grams of fat for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet).


Courtesy of McDonald's

The McMuffin and McGriddle get top billing on McDonald's breakfast menu, but the simple sausage burrito is the right choice. It's a flour tortilla, American cheese, and scrambled eggs with sausage and peppers. Grab two, and you can't find a better fast-food breakfast.

And for more about the Golden Arches, don't miss these 30 McDonald's Facts All '80s Kids Remember.


16 Regional Fast-Food Chains You Need To Know About

You can barely go anywhere these days without the logos of mega fast-food chains catching your eye, but big guns like McDonald's and Chick-fil-A can sometimes blind you to lesser-known &mdash and equally good &mdash regional spots. If you see these local chains on your next road trip, they're definitely worth a pit stop.

Location: Southeast

Ask any Southerner whether they've heard of this North Carolina-based chain, and you can bet your biscuits they've been more than once. Fried chicken dinners and flaky, buttery biscuits are the two must-order items, which can be complimented by Southern staples like dirty rice and grits or other comforting sides, like mashed potatoes and mac & cheese.

Location: South

Any chain beloved enough to be featured in an annual eating championship is one that we'd like to try, and Krystal certainly qualifies. Even non-competitors will want to order as many of their original Krystal burgers as they can stomach &mdash the "White Castle of the South" serves their sliders with diced onions, mustard and dill pickles on a signature, square-shaped bun. The mini hot dogs are pretty cute, too.

Location: California and Hawaii, plus various other locations

In the Phillipines, Jollibee holds a celebrity status comparable to McDonald's in the United States. The chain has a pretty unusual menu, combining items like Chickenjoy (fried chicken) meals with Jolly Spaghetti to create a meal that certainly won't bore your tastebuds.

The underdog items? The Aloha Burger, topped with bacon, pineapple and an epic special sauce and the mango peach pie, which might beat out Mickey D's classic apple.

Location: Midwest and east coast

If you're looking for a quick way to make friends in Pittsburgh (and beyond), show up to a party with a bucket of wings from this favorite chain. Their crispy thighs and drumsticks come tossed with all manner of sauces, the most daring of which is the Triple Atomic, clocking in at 500,000 Scoville units. Meat eaters who prefer to keep their tastebuds go for the half-pound steakburgers, topped with everything from bacon jam to Harissa mayo.

Location: Midwest

You're pretty much guaranteed to get two things at this Midwestern chain &mdash an ultra-cheerful greeting and a calorie-laden Butterburger. (For the uninitiated, that's a burger served on a buttered, toasted bun.) Locations have popped up across the country, but you'll find most in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, where there's alway an appetite for cheese sauce-slathered, crinkle-cut French fries and creamy, frozen custard.

Location: South, plus various other locations

Every little kid's dream of choosing their dinner from a menu full of chicken fingers comes true in this Louisiana-based chain. The fried chicken tenders are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, best served with a side of their secret-recipe Cane's sauce and buttery, grilled Texas toast. You know, in case you haven't met your carb quota for the day.

Location: Northeast and Midwest

Chipotle isn't the only respectable burrito joint in town. Panchero's gives the chain a run for its money with its fresh-pressed tortillas and focus on expert burrito-rolling &mdash no tears here. Burrito bowls, salads, tacos and quesadillas are also on the menu, and their homemade queso is leaps and bounds ahead of Chipotle's gritty version.

Location: Southwest

San Antonio is home to this burger joint, which boasts an orange "W" instead of golden arches and allegiance to the chain has spread throughout the Lone Star State and beyond. Not only do these burgers have significantly more heft, but the ability to customize puts Whataburger over the top. Choose the number of patties and any combination of condiments your heart desires.

Location: Midwest and Southeast, plus various other locations

The Dominos and Pizza Hut logos might be burned into your brain as go-to pizza spots, but keep an eye out for the yellow sign and cartoon character at this Michigan-founded chain and you won't regret it. The pies have epic flavor baked into the crust (choose from butter cheese, Cajun, garlic herb, ranch and more ) that put it a notch above other delivery joints, and other menu items like breadsticks, salads and calzone-sandwich hybrid "subs" aren't too shabby, either.

Location: South

In the South, every great night out ends with an early a.m. visit to Cook Out. This chain is known for it's serious variety, including over 40 milkshake flavors, and beats out most other burger joints by cooking their fresh, beef patties on an actual grill. If you need something to wash down your BBQ pork sandwich and side of hushpuppies, go ahead and order a "huge" beverage &mdash yes, that's what the size is called. This chain doesn't mince words.

Location: Midwest

The Iowa-founded Maid-Rite chain specializes in a particularly messy item known as the loose meat sandwich. It's a bun filled with a mixture of unseasoned ground beef and sautéed onions, but don't call it a sloppy joe &mdash there's no tomato sauce to be found here. If you're feeling fancy, top yours with blue cheese or cheddar and jalapeños, then round it all out with a diner-style malt or shake.

Location: Florida, North Carolina, Texas, plus various other locations

A tiny neighborhood restaurant in North Carolina called Tenders transformed into this drooled-over establishment, which has since set up shop throughout Florida and Texas. Made-from-scratch chicken tenders are the name of the game here, and you can watch the breading and cooking for yourself, thanks to the open-format kitchens. If tenders aren't your thing, may we suggest a honey butter chicken sandwich with a side of crispy, golden zucchini fries?

Location: Midwest

Nebraska's most iconic sandwich &mdash brought to the Midwest by German immigrants &mdash takes center stage at this ultra-regional chain. Sure, you'll find burgers, chicken sandwiches, and an odd invention called a "chili salad" on the menu, but the classic Runza is a winning order, consisting of a crusty bread roll stuffed with beef, cabbage and sautéed onions. Change it up with bacon or mushrooms, but definitely get a side of Frings (a combo of French fries and onion rings, obvi) with French onion dip and maybe even some cinnamon rolls for dessert.

Location: Midwest, South, and various other locations

With gourmet-sounding options like beer-battered fish tacos and carne asada fries, it's clear that this Mexican-inspired, fast-food stop takes things further than Taco Bell. Famous items like their bean-and-cheese dip and burritos &mdash spiced up with signature green or red sauce &mdash bring the flavor, but typical burgers and fries aren't off the table for those with more classic, American taste.

Location: California, plus various other locations

In-N-Out might be the talk of the town in California, but this chain took root in the state before "animal style" was part of our vocabulary. A former hot-dog cart in L.A., Carl's Jr. has since shifted to focus on burgers &mdash and big, juicy ones at that. Their $5 All-Star meals are tough to beat in terms of value, but don't count out other menu items like their hefty breakfast sandwiches.

Location: East Coast, plus various other locations

People along the east coast are fiercely loyal to this convenience store chain that's equipped with an efficient and surprisingly tasty hot food counter. The computerized ordering system lets you choose what you want, from hoagies to quesadillas to mac & cheese, and customize it down to the amount of butter on your roll. It's the ultimate place to fill up the gas tank, stock up on snacks and get a good meal in your belly before embarking on a road trip.


The 100 Best Restaurants in 2019, According to OpenTable

It was a strong year for West Coast restaurants, according to OpenTable’s recently released list of the 100 best restaurants in the U.S. in 2019. The Golden State housed nearly a quarter of the total list with outposts up and down the coast, including Acquerello , Benu , and Birdsong in San Francisco, all the way down Highway 1 to The Dock in Newport Beach and Hachi in Carson, California.

who's who? The Most Influential Food People of the Past Decade The annuals list, generated from diner reviews collected from the popular restaurant booking platform between Oct. 1, 2018 and Sept. 30, 2019, featured 22 total restaurants from California, while New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida tied for second place with seven restaurants each making the cut.

American and Italian cuisines were represented most-heavily with favorites like Chicago’s The Girl & The Goat and New York’s Atera landing in the top 100, but French food made a strong showing with representation in all corners of the country from Cafe Provence in Prairie, Kansas, to Boston’s Brassica Kitchen.

To qualify for the top 100, each restaurant had to have been part of the OpenTable platform for the past 12 consecutive months with a minimum overall rating and a minimum number of qualifying reviews for consideration. From there, they were sorted and ranked according to data points, like overall diner rating, total number of reviews, and regional overall rating.

The annual list follows OpenTable’s year-end dining report , a more interpretive look at popular dining trends this year which saw a rise in farmer-owned restaurants and an uptick in reviews surrounding keto and plant-based food dining.

Here are the top 100 restaurants in America for 2019, according to OpenTable (in alphabetical order):


The Best Pancakes in Every State

From upscale urban cafes to country-style mom-and-pop diners, restaurants across the U.S. are using pancake batter as a vessel to showcase regional ingredients and culinary traditions. Here are our picks in each state, plus Washington, D.C.

Related To:

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Photo By: Benny van der Wal, Light Keeper

Photo By: Tatiana Mooradian

Snow City Cafe – Anchorage, Alaska

An award-winning breakfast and lunch spot, Snow City Cafe has dominated the Anchorage breakfast scene since 1998 with its fresh and hearty morning plates showcasing local, seasonal ingredients. Brace yourself for the blustery climate by fueling up with the Polar Bear Breakfast &mdash one fluffy, plate-sized buttermilk pancake (you can add blueberries for an extra 50 cents) served with two eggs, any style, and a side of protein. (For an authentically Alaskan experience, go for the juicy reindeer sausage spiced with white pepper and coriander.) Vegan and gluten-free visitors will find plenty of items to choose from, too. The news gets even better for picky eaters: Substitutions, for once, are welcome.

Drip Cafe – Hockessin, Delaware

Serving pancakes with bacon is a time-honored American tradition, but Drip Cafe in Hockessin, Delaware has taken the breakfast classic a step further by serving its hot buttermilk pancakes studded with crispy bacon bits throughout, a technique that ensures the perfect balance of sweet and salty in every bite. The innovation doesn't stop there: Once plated, the pancakes are topped with roasted apples, more smoky bacon and housemade salted caramel sauce for a sweet-and-salty breakfast bomb that leaves customers feeling sated for hours.

Big Bad Breakfast – Oxford, Mississippi

Chef John Currence put genteel Oxford on the culinary map with his small empire of restaurants, including City Grocery and Snackbar. Big Bad Breakfast is the homiest of the bunch, a destination for sweet potato hash, chili-stuffed omelets and a Creole-inspired egg scramble packed with spicy andouille sausage and tender crawfish. But it's the nutty oatmeal short stack dressed up with whipped cream that really takes the (pan)cake. Other toppings, like chocolate chips, strawberries, blueberries, pecans or bananas, are also available. We highly recommend that you temper the impending sugar rush with a side of the restaurant's signature andouille.

The Bunnery – Jackson Hole, Wyoming

One of Jackson Hole's favorite spots for breakfast and lunch (and dinner, but only during the summer months), The Bunnery offers the best breakfast in town, complete with fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice and bottomless cups of Starbucks coffee. The straightforward, simply prepared menu items include a variety of eggs, including made-to-order omelettes and classic quiches. For a true indulgence, treat yourself to the tangy buttermilk pancakes topped simply with maple syrup and fresh, in-season fruit. The house specialty, however, is the O.S.M. Pancakes, which manage to retain a light and fluffy texture &mdash the mark of all excellent &rsquocakes &mdash despite their hearty, whole-grain flour blend containing whole wheat, oats, sunflower seeds and millet. Used to make bread for toast and French toast as well, the O.S.M. blend is a proprietary recipe developed in the '70s by the first owner of The Bunnery, which was originally a bakery, not a restaurant. Can't count on a trip to Jackson Hole anytime soon? You're in luck: The O.S.M. pancake mix can be purchased from the restaurant's online shop.

The Farmer's Table Cafe – Fayetteville, Arkansas

Fayetteville has long attracted adventuresome hikers keen on exploring the vast wilderness of the Ozarks &mdash but that's not all the town is known for. Visitors would be remiss to neglect the wholesome, country-style pancakes served hot off the grill at The Farmer's Table, just a stone's throw from the University of Arkansas. Here, you can choose from organic buttermilk pancakes grilled in coconut oil or the vegan coconut pancakes topped with Firefly Farm figs and fresh Windberry Farm raspberries. But cafe's real claim to fame is the sweet potato pancakes, a Southern specialty, made with all-local ingredients: New South Cooperative sweet potatoes, War Eagle Mill flour and Farmers' Pride eggs. Toppings like cinnamon butter, candied pecans and organic maple syrup push these tender 'cakes into dessert territory. In our opinion, that's the opposite of a problem.

Delta Diner – Delta, Wisconsin

Established in 2003, this self-proclaimed "little diner in the middle of nowhere" has gained serious traction with audiences near and far thanks to its straightforward, comforting breakfasts and the made-from-scratch Blue Plate Specials. And although the inspiration for the overall appearance and decor of this classic American roadside diner came from the East Coast, there's no doubt that the belly-warming Norwegian Cakes will sustain you through the harsh Wisconsin winters. Thin yet tender and ever so slightly spongy (all the better for absorbing that lemon and powdered sugar), these comforting pancakes are something of a Wisconsin tradition, thanks to the large wave of Norwegian immigration to the Midwest during the mid-19th century. Pair the 'cakes with a side of bacon and some hearty fried eggs for the full backwoods breakfast experience.

Tupelo Honey – Asheville, North Carolina

The menu at the Tupelo Honey cafe in Asheville is full of modern twists on classic Southern fare -- for example, Goat Cheese Grits with Shrimp and Fried Chicken Saltimbocca. But you won't truly understand the meaning of "Southern hospitality" until you've experienced the pomp and circumstance that is the restaurant's Shoo Mercy Sweet Potato Pancakes, a long-standing staple of the weekend brunch menu. Stacked three high, these moist 'cakes are topped precariously with apple cider bacon, buttermilk fried chicken and spiced pecans &mdash with two sunny-side-up eggs, pickled blueberries and grilled seasonal fruit on the side. Erring on the side of dessert? Try the Banana Pudding Layered Pancakes &mdash a play on another Southern classic, in which the signature sweet potato pancakes are layered with banana pudding and topped with warm, malty rum sauce.

Polly's Pancake Parlor – Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

Antique tools, Civil War relics and portraits of the previous generation of owners decorate the walls of this cozy Sugar Hill breakfast nook. Tucked inside a carriage shed that was built circa 1830, Polly's Pancake Parlor has passed through three generations of Granite Staters. During the Great Depression, Polly and her husband, Wilfred "Sugar Bill" Dexter, converted the shed into a small, quaint tearoom with seating to accommodate just 24 people. When they first began serving in 1938, they offered pancakes, waffles and French toast &mdash "All you can eat for 50 cents" &mdash in an effort to stimulate sales of their maple products. Eighteen years later, the original scheme is still working, with warm, made-to-order pancakes flying off the griddle from the time the place opens at 7 in the morning until it closes at 3 in the afternoon. Diners can customize their plates with their choice of six different batters &mdash plain, oatmeal buttermilk, buckwheat, gingerbread and whole &mdash plus classic add-ins like chocolate chips, blueberries and walnuts. Having too much trouble deciding? Go for the sampler plate, which offers two pancakes each of any three styles, opening you up to ingenious combos such as Oatmeal Buttermilk-Blueberry, Whole Wheat-Walnut and Cornmeal Coconut.

John O'Groats – Los Angeles, California

This family-owned restaurant specializes in exceptional breakfasts that transcend trends. Looking around the dining room, you'll see Angelenos of all ages tucking into the signature Irish oatmeal, huevos rancheros and other morning favorites, including a lengthy list of buttermilk pancakes studded with chocolate chips, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, pecans and other enticements. For a stack of Los Angeles flavor, get the seven-grain granola pancakes, which have slightly nutty flavor and a bit of crunch.

Cinnamon's Restaurant – Kailua, Hawaii

Hearty, homemade creations await inside this award-winning coastal joint, from savory, meat-heavy dishes to indulgent plates that toe a very thin line between breakfast and dessert. As for the pancakes, classic buttermilk, banana, pumpkin, red velvet and cinnamon-apple batters are all on offer. But for a truly tropical experience, go for the Guava Chiffon Pancakes, which arrive at the table glazed with a delicate, rosy pink sauce. The chefs have taken care to tame the guava, a fairly sweet fruit, to ensure that the dish doesn't send diners into full-blown sugar shock. Ranked continuously at the top of America's best-of lists, it's safe to say these are a can't-miss item.

The Pancake Wagon – Bend, Oregon

How many times have you been able to say that you've sampled inventive pancakes served hot out of a converted 1970s camper just a stone's throw from the scenic Deschutes River &mdash oh, while a friendly bunny nibbles wild clover out of your hand? Stop by The Pancake Wagon in Bend, Oregon, between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. and you'll check off all those goals at once. Before opening their beloved neighborhood food cart, owners Caley and Bashia Brach were accustomed to grueling hours: They had left careers on the East Coast in social work and nursing, respectively. But they took their mutual love of quality, on-the-go breakfast food out West. Since opening in April of 2016, the menu offerings have exploded &mdash from standard (though excellent) pancake stacks to pancake burritos (purritos) and pancake muffins (puffins). Each item was born out of a desire to serve fresh, hot breakfast that can be enjoyed on the move. If you're craving something sweet, try a Lemon Ricotta Puff-Czek, the Brachs' play on the pączek, or Polish jelly-filled doughnut it features a mixed-berry and chia seed compote injected into one of their citrusy Lemon Ricotta Puffins. In the mood for something savory? The Johnny Purrito, which features scrambled eggs, bacon and spicy serrano-pepper cream cheese spread bundled up in a large cornmeal johnnycake, won't disappoint. Don't forget to swing by the bunny hutch and pay a visit to Roux!

Little Sandy's – Bruceton Mills, West Virginia

Most breakfast-hocking restaurants in the country pride themselves on buttermilk pancakes, but West Virginia chefs prefer to get their flavor from buckwheat cakes. Monongalia and Preston counties, in particular, are known for their exceptional pancakes, which are made in a style very local to West Virginia. In lieu of an otherwise all-purpose-flour batter, locals add buckwheat flour to make nutty, slightly sour 'cakes. They're fantastic. Some chefs use lard to prevent sticking, though butter works, too. At tiny diner Little Sandy's, in Bruceton Mills, the buckwheat cakes are best served with sausage patties and maple syrup.

Bubby's – New York, New York

The pancakes at this hip Tribeca cafe and its newer Meatpacking outpost are as big and bold as the restaurant&rsquos hometown. Customers are given a choice between two different batters: The ultra-tangy housemade sourdough batter uses sourdough starter from 1890, and the other is based on an old James Beard recipe that's been adapted to include sour cream for extra fluffiness. You can also choose from five addictive variations, which include pancakes strewn with crunchy walnuts and golden, caramelized banana slivers pancakes dressed in a sweet-and-sour blueberry sauce or the Nutella pancakes with Concord grame jam. But perhaps the most-valuable lesson to learn from Bubby's is that fried chicken should never be reserved for just waffles. Order a stack of the golden sourdough pancakes with a side of juicy Sullivan County Farms fried chicken. After the first bite, a light will go off in your brain, leaving you stunned that you hadn't thought to try this pairing sooner.

Toast ‘N Jams – Muskegon, Michigan

Diners flock to this 1950s-inspired eatery for hearty breakfast fare dished out in nostalgic environs. The interior, which is filled with old-fashioned decor centered around Route 66, includes a wall-to-wall mural inspired by the historic roadway. Each dish represents a different stop on Route 66, like the Amarillo-inspired BBQ burger. And while the lunch menu is certainly worth a look, Toast 'N Jams, as you might guess by the name, is famous for its breakfast plates. Keep it classic with the banana-nut or blueberry pancakes, and be sure to check your guilt at the door before ordering the thickly iced Cinnamon Roll Pancakes. One of Toast 'N Jams&rsquo most-requested creations, the Strawberry Cheesecake Pancakes are cooked until golden brown and topped with a sweet strawberry-cream cheese blend.

Keke’s – Winter Park, Florida

This regional Florida chain maintains the feel of a cozy hometown diner at each one of its 30 locations across the peninsula, thanks to its menu of comforting breakfast classics like golden Belgian waffles and fluffy omelets stuffed with ham and cheese. But diners will tell you that the pancakes are where it&rsquos truly at. Choose from eight different options, some featuring crunchy batters, such as the banana-nut, the granola and the pecan pancakes. Keke&rsquos even pays homage to its home state with the Florida Pancakes, a fluffy buttermilk stack topped proudly with fresh fruit galore &mdash strawberries, banana, blueberries &mdash and, of course, powdered sugar.

St. Francis Restaurant – Phoenix, Arizona

St. Francis is famous for giving the wood-fired treatment to its seasonal vegetables and signature San Francisco-style sourdough. But the best application of this cooking technique is the Iron Skillet Pancake. Laced with olive oil, buttermilk and dark chocolate, this iconic brunch dish is baked in a cast-iron skillet in the restaurant&rsquos wood-burning oven, which was custom-built in the same style as 19th-century bread-baking ovens. The skillet is fished from the flames only once the pancake has achieved a deep, mahogany char &mdash much darker than you might be used to, but this is not your run-of-the-mill flapjack. It arrives at the table dressed with tender caramel apples, real maple syrup and whipped creme fraiche.

Ellen’s – Dallas, Texas

Tradition reigns supreme at Ellen&rsquos, an all-day-brunch hub with a myriad of unpretentious Southern specialties, like shrimp and grits and creamy pimento cheese, dominating the menu. But for a one-of-a-kind, untamed breakfast experience that&rsquos just begging for a close-up on your Instagram profile, ask for the Pancake Pot Pie. Envisioned by owner Joe Groves and brought to life by co-owner and Executive Chef Russell Mertz, this over-the-top spin on the classic Southern supper features layer upon layer of made-from-scratch pancakes, sweet maple cream-sausage gravy, hickory bacon, crumbled sausage, hash browns &mdash phew, almost there &mdash and a top layer of scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese. For once, your friends will actually be jealous of what you ate for breakfast. And sure, you could order the chicken-fried steak or the buttermilk fried chicken for dinner, and you wouldn&rsquot regret it. But why would you do that when this original (and sinfully addictive) creation is available all day long?

Jigger's Diner – East Greenwich, Rhode Island

In 1992, when Carol Shriner bought the decrepit Jigger's in East Greenwich, she didn&rsquot expect it to become the destination diner it is today. Nevertheless, the Gingerbread Pancakes, perked up with hot brewed coffee, dark brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves, are something of a local legend. So are the diner&rsquos signature johnnycakes &mdash plump little discs with crunchy brown surfaces sandwiching steamy flint cornmeal &mdash which are typical of South County. Historians believe that johnnycakes date back as far as Colonial times, when they were known as "journey cakes" once cooked, they could be carried on a long trip for sustenance along the way. Thus, to eat them is to experience a piece of the nation's culinary past.

Toast on Market – Louisville, Kentucky

When this arty cafe first opened its doors in 2006, locals saw it as another feather in the cap of Louisville&rsquos burgeoning breakfast scene. Over a decade later, Toast on Market has firmly cemented its position in the city&rsquos culinary landscape &mdash even expanding to a second location across the Ohio River. Visitors are repeatedly impressed by Chef George Morris&rsquo sophisticated reinterpretations of classic American diner fare, like the Monte Cristo French toast filled with ham, baby Swiss and orange marmalade. The chef&rsquos French bistro-informed methods can be best appreciated in the form of the Lemon Soufflé Pancakes, which are bursting with citrus flavor and dressed in a rich vanilla custard and juicy blueberry compote. For a real stick-to-your-ribs rendition of American buttermilk pancakes, try the Bread Pudding Pancakes festooned with warm rum-raisin syrup and rich Irish creme sauce.

Vick’s Vittles – Albuquerque, New Mexico

On the border of Navajo Nation, a Native American territory covering over 17.5 million acres between Arizona and New Mexico, sits this bustling Albuquerque diner known for its hearty Southwestern specialties. The crown jewel of the breakfast menu is easily the Santa Fe Pancakes, a dish that takes its cues directly from the Native American and Mexican culinary traditions that have largely shaped the region&rsquos modern foodscape. These deep indigo cakes feature a blue-corn buttermilk batter that&rsquos loaded up with roasted pinons, Hatch green chiles and cheddar-Jack cheese. Don&rsquot pass them over based on the novelty of the color: Blue corn, in terms of flavor, has very much in common with the yellow varieties most Americans would readily chow down on. The first bite floods your senses with the essence of uber-fresh corn, and the spice from the chiles follows soon after, leaving a gentle sting on your tongue that&rsquos tempered by the tangy buttermilk.

BabyStacks Cafe – Las Vegas, Nevada

If you&rsquore in need of a recklessly indulgent breakfast to numb you through the painful aftermath of a night out in Vegas, then look no further than BabyStacks, a cafe that boasts 21 different pancake varieties on its menu. You&rsquoll find traditional buttermilk stacks bulked up with bananas and blueberries, along with many one-of-a-kind creations: orange-flavored pancakes topped with whipped cream for a play on an orange Creamsicle, a rocky road-inspired stack, a riff on cookies and cream featuring chocolate batter &mdash even a peanut butter-laced stack that comes with a choice of chocolate, banana or jelly spread. But the real MVP at this pancake playland is the red velvet topped with fresh whipped cream and chocolate crumbles, and served with cream cheese syrup. It&rsquos the best-seller for a reason. Word to the wise: There&rsquos nothing babylike about BabyStacks&rsquo breakfast plates. A short stack includes three pancakes, while a full stack includes a whopping six. "Come hungry" is all we&rsquore saying.

The Nova Cafe – Bozeman, Montana

Breakfast lovers will have a hard time settling on just one item when poring over the endlessly tempting options at this lively Bozeman diner, where morning fare is served every day from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. But for flapjack diehards, the choice is easy: It&rsquos the Blue Cornmeal Pancakes every time. Compared with classic buttermilk pancakes, those made with cornmeal tend to have a bit more grit &mdash and, when blue cornmeal is used, the resulting &rsquocakes wind up with a striking blue-gray hue that is a welcome change from the typical beige that all too often dominates our breakfast plates. In the summertime, go wild with the color palate by adding fresh, in-season blueberries. You won&rsquot regret it.

Katalina’s – Columbus, Ohio

Altering the overall shape and appearance of traditional flapjacks might strike you as reinventing the wheel. But then again, you probably haven&rsquot been to Katalina&rsquos yet. Housed in a 100-year-old gas station &mdash the oldest in Columbus &mdash this eclectic cafe has been slinging local, homemade grub without pretense since 2009. Owner Kathleen Day has garnered a massive following that includes locals and out-of-towners alike with her prized Pancake Balls made with local, stone-ground Fowler&rsquos Mill flour. Diners get to choose from three different fillings: Nutella, dulce de leche or local organic Cooper&rsquos Mill Pumpkin-Apple Butter. Every order comes with Milligan's Bourbon Barrel Aged maple syrup and a side of Katalina&rsquos Original Sweet &rsquoN&rsquo Spicy Bacon, or regular bacon if you desire. (Go for the Sweet &rsquoN&rsquo Spicy.)

Hatch – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

You don&rsquot have to search the nation high and low for inventive pancake add-ins, but pancakes in playful shapes get bonus points for ingenuity. This chic, all-day breakfast hub pays homage to its home state in the form of the Famous PanOKCakes. Made with sweet cream batter and strewn with bacon, local pecans, bourbon-maple glaze and mascarpone butter, these fluffy &rsquocakes are cooked and then sculpted to resemble the Sooner State. The Strawberry Dream, Blueberry Streusel and Pina Caramelo stacks also feature Hatch&rsquos specialty sweet cream batter and luscious fruit compote. Classic buttermilk, gluten-free sweet potato and chocolate chip pancakes are among some of the more mainstream options. Can&rsquot make up your mind? Go for the Pancake Flight &mdash it&rsquos any three pancakes of your choice.

Green Eggs Cafe — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Don&rsquot let the name of this Seuss-inspired restaurant confuse you. The short-rib Benedict and various egg skillets are all very tempting, yes, but the pancakes are what drives the brunch rush weekend after weekend. Traditional 'cakes come piled high with everything from strawberries and blueberries to chocolate chips and ice cream &mdash but forget all of that. If you really care about pancakes (and you must, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this), there&rsquos no choice but the red velvet stack layered with strawberry mascarpone. Supremely dense with crispy edges, these square-shaped beauties are crowned with airy Chantilly cream and fresh strawberries. One other reason to love this cafe? It's BYOB, so don't forget to bring some prosecco for a tangerine-juice mimosa.

Page’s Okra Grill – Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

Leaving hungry is never a possibility at this legendary Mt. Pleasant hub for authentic Southern comfort food, which comes in consistently in the No. 1 spot on all the local best-of lists. Fueling up on a budget? Go for the $6 buttermilk stack, piled three high, and add fresh fruit, bacon or chocolate chips for an extra $1.50. If you&rsquore in the mood to splurge, upgrade to the $9 Loaded Pancakes: The same wholesome buttermilk batter is loaded up with pieces of apple-smoked bacon and sausage, griddled to golden perfection, then topped off with a generous dollop of whipped honey butter.

Succotash – Kansas City, Missouri

Sure, the greater Kansas City metropolitan area is not heavily associated with Swedish-American history. Compared with Minneapolis, for example, Kansas City in 1900 was home to only one-tenth as many Swedish immigrants &mdash around 2,000. Yet Swedes here, as elsewhere, left their imprint on the physical, social, economic and culinary development of the city. Exhibit A: the crowd-pleasing Swedish Pancakes served at Succotash in Crown Center, Kansas City&rsquos bustling shopping district. These buttery, crepelike pancakes are filled generously with tart lingonberries alongside two eggs and fried bacon. If you prefer your fruit to err on the side of sweet rather than sour, go for the Peachy Swedes. They&rsquore Swedish pancakes filled with lightly sweetened ricotta and topped with ginger-infused peaches.

Milktooth — Indianapolis, Indiana

The fact that this modest Indianapolis eatery housed in a former garage has achieved national acclaim by serving brunch and brunch only is pretty incredible. Though the restaurant industry is experiencing something of a brunch frenzy (thanks, avocado toast), there&rsquos a vocal minority who are (understandably) unwilling to venture out of their homes, weather hourlong waits for a table and fork out $20 or more just to kick-start their mornings. But Chef Jonathan Brooks&rsquo eye-catching plates have a way of taking even the most-dubious brunch skeptics and turning them into devout brelievers. The restaurant, in part, owes its enormous popularity to its Dutch baby pancakes, the menu&rsquos ever-evolving showpiece. Brooks creates the puffy, pastrylike base using his specialty pancake batter and tops it off with seasonal ingredients. The restaurant&rsquos two most-current iterations are a sweet-and-savory option &mdash the Welsh rarebit Dutch baby, featuring new potatoes, pickled sweet corn and greens &mdash and the tarte tatin Dutch baby, topped with roasted apples, lemony caramel and whipped sour cream.

Cafe Eclectic – Memphis, Tennessee

Since opening their first location on North McLean in the heart of the historic Vollintine-Evergreen district, owner Cathy Boulden and Chef Mary O&rsquoBrien have expanded Cafe Eclectic's reputation as so much more than a casual stopover for coffee and pastries. The opening of their "Big" Midtown location in 2008, where the breakfast menu is available all day in addition to lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, helped to cement the cafe&rsquos reputation for quality morning fare in Memphis&rsquo burgeoning breakfast scene. Be prepared for a wait, especially on weekends, as it seems Eclectic never experiences a slow day. Once seated, begin caffeinating yourself with an Illy French press. Cafe Eclectic is known for its emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, so, when it's time to order, go for Pookie's Buckwheat Pancakes, "made with freshly ground buckwheat from the Mississippi Delta." With a mouth (and belly) feel that&rsquos lighter than the usual all-white-flour varieties, plus a subtle crunch around the edges and a crown of fresh sliced fruit, they'll win over even the most-resolute pancake haters at the table.

King’s Breakfast and Lunch – Newtown, Connecticut

Tucked inconspicuously off to the side of Route 25 in Newtown, King&rsquos was dominating Connecticut best-breakfast lists long before the benefits of the web and "viral" food news. But the massive, celebratory plates dished out at this cozy, wood-paneled diner continually impress the regulars, as well as any lucky travelers who happen to wander in from a scenic New England drive. When we say these plates are massive, we're not joking: A full stack of the country buttermilk pancakes includes four thick 'cakes with the option to add blueberries, strawberries, bacon, bananas or chocolate chips to the batter. The pumpkin pancakes, which you'll find only on the special weekend breakfast menu, are remarkably moist and tender but not too sweet &mdash a situation you can remedy with an ample pour of real maple syrup.

The Breakfast Shoppe — Severna Park, Maryland

Near the Eastern Shore, in Severna Park, this morning-centric spot specializes in hearty breakfasts, including an array of Benedicts, omelettes and plenty from the griddle. The Cinnamon Roll Pancakes combine the best of a cream cheese-glazed roll with flapjacks, and trailblazer pancakes come studded with granola. The restaurant has gained acclaim for its Fall Harvest Pancakes, which are served seasonally and weigh five pounds each.

Penny Ann’s Cafe – Salt Lake City, Utah

Since opening its doors in 2011, this small, family-run diner has achieved enormous popularity thanks to its no-frills, quality breakfasts. And, although restaurants have a tendency to hype their food, the deliciousness of the Heavenly Hot Cakes at Penny Ann&rsquos cannot be overstated. Light and airy, these housemade sour cream flapjacks are served simply with butter and real maple syrup, and frankly, any additional toppings would be an insult the already perfectly sweet-and-tangy formula. The locals seem to agree: For two years in a row, Penny Ann&rsquos was the winner of the Best of State Award for Best Breakfast &mdash a pattern that nearly matches the momentum of the operation&rsquos expansion. (After three years in Salt Lake City, the family decided to open a second, nearby location &mdash and then a third, in Draper, Utah, in December of 2014). The restaurant&rsquos namesake, Penny Ann, and her sister, Cindy, can often be found seating patrons, serving tables and chatting with the regulars.

Dante’s Kitchen – New Orleans, Louisiana

The farm-to-table ethos that&rsquos slowly moved to the forefront of the American dining scene over the last decade or two was slow to catch on in New Orleans. But that started to change after Chef Emanuel "Eman" Loubier, a New York native and an early champion of this culinary aesthetic, opened Dante&rsquos Kitchen in 2000 after a long stint at the iconic Commander&rsquos Palace. The main dining area is set in a small but high-ceilinged converted cottage that&rsquos nearly a century old. Served with Smith Creamery butter and cane syrup (a staple in the arsenal of New Orleans chefs), the roasted banana-pecan pancakes are available only during weekend brunch hours, and are just one of the many dishes that reflect Loubier&rsquos Nouvelle-Creole roots. If you&rsquore feeling particularly adventurous, try pairing the nutty brown &rsquocakes with a side of grilled alligator sausage for an authentic NOLA breakfast experience.

Little Grill Collective – Harrisonburg, Virginia

The Little Grill Collective has churned out cozy, homestyle fare to Harrisonburg loyals since the 1940s, albeit under many different owners and many different names. The hip breakfast joint first dipped a toe into the local DIY scene in the early 1980s, when a young employee started renting the place out on weekend nights to present rock shows, cheap beer and hellishly spicy chili. Years later, manager Ron Copeland and his employees organized a worker-owned corporation, and in 2003, they purchased the restaurant using "community financing" to secure the down payment, and now proudly trumpeting its Collective, worker-owned status. Famous for its buckwheat pancakes &mdash made with Wade's Mill buckwheat, rice flour, agave, Edgewood Farms molasses, almond milk and flax &mdash LGC demonstrates just how delicious it is to seize the means of production.

M. Henry – Chicago, Illinois

Chicago locals will dare you to name a pancake better than the Blackberry Bliss Cakes at M. Henry, a globally inspired cafe that&rsquos stolen the spotlight on the Windy City&rsquos breakfast scene since opening its doors in 2011. Remarkably light, these fluffy hotcakes swaddled in warm fruit and vanilla mascarpone and topped with a brown sugar-oat crust offer a thoughtful blend of flavors and textures that results in an unstoppable breakfast force. The heavy dollop of vanilla mascarpone cream between the pancakes does just enough to cut the sweetness of the dark berry sauce, and the crunchy oat topping makes for a chewing experience that will give you more to ponder than your average butter-soaked stack. To put it simply, this is a breakfast worth planning your weekend around. And besides, where else in Chicago can you queue up for bottomless mugs of organic coffee?

Kristin’s Breakfast – Braintree, Massachusetts

Rejoice, sugar fiends, for this is one-stop shop for morning glory. At Kristin's in Braintree, you'll find a dizzying pancake menu that includes 18 specialty options like M&M, birthday sprinkles, German chocolate, caramel pecan and cookie dough. The s'mores pancakes are the diner's true claim to fame, but unlike some of the other intentionally genius combinations, these were the result of a happy accident. After mistakenly receiving a case of graham crackers in a delivery, owner Kristin Son &mdash dubbed "The Pancake Queen" by her regulars &mdash decided to put the ingredient to good use, and a local breakfast legend was born. For a quintessentially Massachusetts order, go for the Boston Cream Pancakes, featuring a river of sweet cream and flowing chocolate.

All Day Cafe – Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Everyone knows that the best part of coffee cake is the sweet, melt-in-your-mouth streusel crumbs. At this all-day-breakfast destination, the timeless topping takes center stage in the form of the Blueberry Delight Pancakes, studded with plump blueberries and made complete with a schmear of lemon peel cream cheese and a drizzle of maple syrup. Then again, you may find the Caramel Banana Pancakes equally captivating, with their amalgam of sweet, citrus and molasses notes that come from a topping of sliced bananas and strawberries, citrus-rum caramel and vanilla bean whipped cream. Go on, order the pancakes for dinner. Why? Well, because you can.

Moody’s Diner – Waldoboro, Maine

A way station on mid-coastal Maine&rsquos U.S. Highway 1 since the 1930s, this institution (now owned by the third generation of the Moody family) has built its reputation on award-winning pies. The chocolate cream pie has been voted the most popular by customers, but the four-berry and walnut pies loom close behind in the ranking. For a quintessential Maine breakfast, there&rsquos no better option than a stack of Moody&rsquos blueberry pancakes, which will set you back just $5.09. The pancakes are a staple item for regulars and an eye-opening experience for sojourners. In August, Maine&rsquos peak blueberry season, Moody&rsquos hauls in fresh bushels from surrounding Waldoboro farms every morning. Prized for their extra-tart bite, Maine blueberries play particularly well with the tangy, housemade buttermilk batter. You can offset the pucker effect with a liberal glug of maple syrup.

The Chef – Manhattan, Kansas

When Charles "Cotton" Limbocker opened The Chef in 1943, Manhattanites poured into the small space to claim one of the eight seats at the diner&rsquos horseshoe-shaped counter. After a rush of early and steady success, the Limbockers decide to expand the business by buying up the space next door. In 1986, The Chef closed down &mdash but in 2008, Kevin and Kurstin Harris, along with their good friend Zach Filbert, reopened the legendary diner in an effort to fill the breakfast void downtown. In the spirit of the revival, the Riley County Historical Society even provided the original neon sign to hang outside. It&rsquos remarkable that, despite over 20 years of inactivity, The Chef has resumed the bustling business it first enjoyed during the postwar era. Diners still have a tendency to wolf down their plates, since there are always hordes waiting to take their place &mdash especially on weekends. You would be remiss not to ask for the Pancakes Bananas Foster slicked with a dark rum-banana-pecan sauce. The diner&rsquos youngest visitors tend to gravitate toward the PB&J pancakes or the rainbow-flecked stack laced with Fruity Pebbles.

The Maple Counter Cafe – Walla Walla, Washington

It would be an understatement to say that pancakes are The Maple Counter Cafe&rsquos specialty. With an entire corner of the menu dedicated to "Creative Pancakes," a category that includes staples such as classic buttermilk, blueberry and chocolate chip-laden flapjacks, plus a few more extraordinary renditions under "House Specialties," it&rsquos safe to say that pancakes are the cafe&rsquos earthly mission. Despite the overwhelming number of compelling options to choose from, there&rsquos a clear winner, especially for newcomers. The Apple Pancake, which the restaurant identifies as "the pride of our kitchen," is made in the style of a souffle: It&rsquos filled with fresh apples, baked in the oven until it&rsquos achieved at least 3 inches of height and shellacked with a Saigon cinnamon glaze. "This is a pancake you&rsquoll talk about forever," the proprietors promise &mdash and, believe us, they're not lying.

Moe Joe’s – Meridian, Idaho

Since opening its doors in 2013, Moe Joe&rsquos has cemented its status as Meridian locals&rsquo go-to for quality, casual breakfasts. Chef and owner Joe Boyd&rsquos emphasis on made-from-scratch comfort food (featuring locally sourced ingredients where possible) extends to the menu&rsquos pancake selection, which includes three tempting options: the classic buttermilk Moe Joe &rsquoCakes the Jalapeno Berry Pancakes, stuffed with cream cheese and served with housemade jalapeno-berry syrup and, the diner&rsquos piece de resistance, the Doughnut and a Cup of Joe. This tall stack of buttermilk pancakes is glazed with doughnut icing and topped with sliced, candied almonds. But truly, it&rsquos the inventive presentation that makes this dish so special: Hollowed out in the center, the stack is fitted snugly with a petite dispenser containing Moe Joe&rsquos homemade coffee syrup.

Highland Bakery – Atlanta, Georgia

With seven locations spread across Atlanta, it&rsquos safe to say this coffee shop-turned-comfort food-hub is in very high demand by locals. Owner Stacey Eames first envisioned Highland as a destination for quality brews, and later, wholesome baked goods packed with good-for-you ingredients like nuts, berries and whole grains. Eventually, Eames expanded her whole-foods concept to include breads, cookies, pastries and cakes. The success of her bakery model prompted the young entrepreneur to expand her horizons yet again by venturing into the realm of Southern comfort food. (Think shrimp and grits and fried chicken Benedict.) Bellying up to a plate of the silky ricotta pancakes drenched in blueberry compote is akin to having dessert for breakfast &mdash which, to be clear, we highly encourage. But the sweet potato pancakes best demonstrate Highland&rsquos mastery of Southern culinary traditions. Lightly sweet with a honeyed hue, these moist flapjacks are served with warm, caramelized brown sugar butter and toasted pecans. Thanks to the sweet potato-laced batter, you can almost convince yourself they&rsquore healthy. Almost.

Blue Plate Cafe – Huntsville, Alabama

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when the predominant food sources available in the South were simple grains, dried beans, chicken, pork and summer vegetables. Despite their limited means, whole communities of women learned to season and flavor their meals with the only ingredients they had available &mdash usually salt, pork and a few spices. Blue Plate Cafe, a Southern comfort food destination for Huntsville locals and tourists alike, pays homage to those industrious matriarchs whose recipes &mdash passed down for generations &mdash now grace the pages of the diner&rsquos menu. If you&rsquore visiting at the right time, you just might score a taste of their summer specialty: The Very Berry Pancakes, two fluffy buttermilk &rsquocakes loaded to the max with raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, are available only when the berries are in season. The rest of the year, you can fall back on the golden buttermilk flapjacks served with soft butter and maple syrup. If you&rsquore feeling indulgent, upgrade your plate by adding chocolate chips, sliced bananas and whipped cream.

The Shack on Broadway – Fargo, North Dakota

This no-frills diner slinging classic American breakfast fare follows the old adage, "If it ain&rsquot broke, don't fix it," to the fullest. You won&rsquot find artisanal pancakes topped with expensive, fussy ingredients here &mdash just classic buttermilk flapjacks, fluffy on the inside and deep golden brown on the outside, slicked with softened butter and maple syrup. And frankly, they don&rsquot require much more embellishment than that. Add fresh blueberries or chocolate chips if it tickles your fancy, but don&rsquot even dream of asking for the recipe. The Shack's top-secret batter comes from an old family recipe, and it&rsquos the reason why this stack is considered the best in town.

Pannekoeken Huis – St. Louis Park, Minnesota

It was President Lincoln&rsquos Homestead Act of 1862 that prompted a massive wave of Scandinavian and Dutch settlers on the East Coast to move westward in pursuit of affordable farmland. Today, there are reminders of Minnesota&rsquos early cultural influencers everywhere, and especially in the state&rsquos cuisine. At this comfy St. Louis Park diner, you&rsquoll find 15 variations on pannenkoeken, or Dutch-style pancakes. Larger and much thinner than their American or Scotch pancake counterparts, but not quite as thin as crepes, pannenkoeken are an excellent instrument for showcasing all kinds of toppings. At Pannekoeken Huis, there&rsquos something for every palate, from an Americanized creation glazed with cinnamon sugar and laced with tart Granny Smith apples to a rendition topped with kiwi, pineapple and banana that flirts with tropical influences. For an authentic Dutch breakfast experience, go for the Traditional Dutch, served simply with powdered sugar and a lemon wedge.

Florida Avenue Grill – Washington, D.C.

Locals know this old-school breakfast joint as a destination for the best hotcakes in town &mdash which, according to the menu, have been "flying off the grill since before you were born." Very little on the menu has changed since 1944, when Lacey Wilson and his wife Bertha first opened the humble diner with tips Lacey saved from years of working on Capitol Hill as a shoeshiner. The same cannot be said for the building itself: Following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the Grill was firebombed during a riot. But it bounced back, just as it did in the face of natural disasters, recessions, crime waves and gentrification. Even now, the Grill remains one of the few places where you can find "a congressman sitting down and having a meal right next to a garbageman," to borrow the words of entrepreneur and current owner Imar Hutchins. Next time you&rsquore in D.C., grab a seat at the iconic counter, order yourself a plate of hotcakes &mdash they&rsquore topped very generously with cinnamon and sugar &mdash and let 70 years of D.C.&rsquos flavor history wash over you.

Sweet Basil’s Cafe – Livingston, New Jersey

You can&rsquot go wrong with any of the fluffy buttermilk pancakes at this casual New Jersey bistro. In fact, your biggest challenge will choosing from eight fluffy options, including strawberry shortcake pancakes, tiramisu pancakes, and the nutty banana pancakes doused in a decadent caramel-pecan sauce. But it&rsquos the Whiskey "R&B" Pancakes &mdash with whiskey-soaked raisins with caramelized bananas in a pomegranate-caramel sauce &mdash that truly stand out from the pack. You may be wondering how the chefs manage to jam so much caramel-y goodness into one stack without pushing the &rsquocakes into overly saccharine territory, but the slight tartness of the pomegranate sauce and the maltiness of the whiskey temper the dish perfectly. "Trust us," the menu urges, adding "no substitutions." Indeed, you should trust them.

Sugar and Spice – Mendon, Vermont

A family-run operation, Sugar and Spice is a diner, gift shop and working sugarhouse all rolled into one. The restaurant sits on part of the old Ripley estate where, for many years, American Civil War Brigadier General Edward H. Ripley and his descendants spent their days making maple syrup, candy and cheese. Though the estate is no longer in the Ripley family, some things haven&rsquot changed: Today, the property is still a bustling site for homestyle cooking dependent upon Vermont&rsquos bounty. Maple ice cream and maple sugar candies are produced right on-site and can be purchased in the restaurant&rsquos gift shop. As for the pancakes? You've got a few options, but the Pumpkin Pancakes are the customers&rsquo clear favorite. Each batch is served with real maple syrup &mdash the artificial stuff will cost you extra. Stop by for a visit in the springtime and you'll be able to watch the sugar makers turn tree sap into maple syrup. It doesn't get much more "Vermont" than that.

Grove Cafe – Ames, Iowa

"One pancake at the Grove Cafe and a little pig meat on the side is a meal," boasts the menu at this cozy Ames breakfast joint. And it&rsquos true &mdash in fact, it&rsquos arguably more than a meal. The Grove Cafe&rsquos Famous Pancake, which costs just $4, is sweet like cake and roughly the size of a pizza. There&rsquos little you can do to prepare yourself for a pancake of these proportions, other than to eat a light dinner the night before your visit. We wish we could tell you more about what makes this golden, oversize flapjack so darn addictive &mdash you&rsquoll swear you won&rsquot be able to polish it off on your own but will inevitably find yourself staring down at an empty plate &mdash but alas, the recipe is top-secret. And though the sign over the diner&rsquos entrance warns, "Just like home you don't always get what you want," there&rsquos no evidence to suggest that a single customer has ever left Grove Cafe feeling hungry or unsatisfied.

Syrup – Denver, Colorado

Owner Tim Doherty&rsquos award-winning corned beef hash, handcrafted syrups and signature green chile stew have earned Syrup a loyal following in a very short time, ensuring the restaurant a coveted place in Denver&rsquos burgeoning breakfast scene. For proof of Syrup&rsquos excellence, look no further than the Baked Apple Pie Pancake: juicy apples cooked into one large, fluffy, cinnamon-and-sugar-spiced &rsquocake that&rsquos generously topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce. Those who prefer pancakes with some oomph will absolutely flip for the Up & At &rsquoEm. These buckwheat pancakes are laced with crunchy granola and plump blueberries, then stacked three high and drenched in real maple syrup. If you can&rsquot decide whether you want to satisfy your sweet or salty craving, go for the Sweet & Savory stack: It&rsquos three buttermilk pancakes with pieces of maple-peppered bacon, sausage and walnuts strewn throughout. The crown jewel is a generous mound of nutty pecan butter.

Le Bouillon – Omaha, Nebraska

As you might guess from its name, this Omaha mainstay takes its cues from France, but the Sunday brunch menu includes a nod to the city&rsquos rich German cultural heritage, in the form of the German pancakes, or Kaiserschmarrn. For the uninitiated, this fantastic comfort food is essentially a thick, shredded, caramelized crepe traditionally laced with rum-soaked raisins. Historians indicate that the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I was quite fond of the dish, which takes its name from the German kaiser, or emperor, and the Austrian-German schmarr, meaning mess or nonsense. Fittingly, Le Bouillon gives its Kaiserschmarrn the royal treatment with the addition of fresh, seasonal berries, berry butter, whipped cream and maple syrup.