What makes a good pancake? Fluffiness? Variety of flavor? Toppings? I am constantly in search of a good pancake, and today I have the honor of sharing my search with all of you.
All pancakes are valid, but some pancakes are more valid than others. These pancakes, to me, come from a local business, have many different variations (and I’m not just talking about chocolate and plain), and these pancakes have the potential to change your life for the better.
With that, I take you now to my list:
Staks Pancake Kitchen:
When you think of pancakes, what do you imagine? For me, it’s a fairytale marriage of fluffy pancake and lemon ricotta, slathered in blueberry syrup, and it’s found within Staks. I’m talking, of course, of their lemon ricotta pancakes. These pancakes haunt both my dreams and my waking hours. I powered through what was probably the flu on my 18th birthday to have these pancakes.
Staks has locations both in East Memphis and Germantown, and does get a little packed on the weekends. That being said they are worth whatever the wait is!
A lot of lore surrounds The Arcade: beloved restaurant of Elvis, film location for several notable films including Walk the Line, oldest cafe in town. The marker that lists The Arcade is now a historic marker, according to its website. I don’t know about you but I, personally, enjoy my pancakes with a bit of history on the side.
Food Network has taken the time to point out that The Arcade’s sweet potato pancakes are fantastic, and now I am too. Get the sweet potato pancakes! That’s all I have to say!
If you ever want to have a fun people-watching experience while eating some delicious pancakes, this is the place. The old, the young, the clear-eyed, the confused, they all find their way to this one, storied pancake place. Notable pancakes include the bacon chip and the banana.
Found on Summer Avenue, it is rare to see this pancake institution closed. During the weekdays it’s open from 6 am to 10 pm, and open 24 hours Saturday and Sunday.
Cafe Eclectic may not be as old as The Arcade, but in its time here it has truly become a hub for Memphis’s youth and hip older crowd. With its long list of coffee drinks and teas, its occasional nook to sell local products, and the art lining the walls, it surely is a place with its own lovely character. I feel cute whenever I go here and sometimes I just really need that, you know?
The pancakes here include Pookie’s Pancakes, made with passion, and vegan pancakes topped with granola and berries. With Pookie’s pancakes, you can mix in a variety of your usual pancake fixings. As always, I recommend bananas. If you’re not as dedicated to the pancake grind as I am, I also recommend the Waffold (a waffle stuffed with either BEC or nutella and your choice of fruit).
Blue Plate Cafe:
Oh, the pancakes of my childhood. This is the quintessential Southern pancake experience, in an old diner setting with your newspaper-esque menus. Your pancake selection ranges from Strawberry Cream to Cinnamon Raisin Pecan, and is sure to fill you up before you leave. The serving sizes are by no means small here.
Blue Plate has two locations, in Downtown and East Memphis. Be sure to try a biscuit while you’re there.
Shoutout to Stone Soup Cafe:
They may not have many different pancakes, but the pancake they do have is HUGE.
Bonus: Waffle House
Yes, I realize that Waffle House violates my criteria. However, have we not all ended up drawn to the Waffle House parking lot at 1 am with our friends, and perhaps even family? Have we all not wandered in to drink its strange orange juice that will probably give us acid reflux later? Have we all not found ourselves dazedly happy, looking around at our loved ones as we eat food we don’t entirely enjoy, but don’t entirely hate either?
This is not an endorsement of Waffle House, as the money we spend there goes to a corporation that will not invest that money back in Memphis. Yet, I would posit that we are all united by the glowing neon signs that dot the Memphis landscape, the 1 am pancakes that we fill with chocolate chips, and the memories we make along the way.
Just the same, we are all united through the joy we all find in our pancakes. Go out, my friends, and find your joy.