Forget basic pancakes. The hot, fluffy disks coming off the griddle at new breakfast eateries and old favorites offer so much more than a simple vehicle for absorbing syrup. Pancakes from creative kitchens around town aim to please with piles of toasty nuts, molten chocolate, international flavors and themes, bacon and syrups flavored with citrus, warming spices and candy. Pair your pick with juice, coffee or cocktails — for whatever mood you find yourself in — and get your morning fix of the best pancakes at one of these ten mansions of morning magic.
1455 California Street
Though simple, the pleasing pancakes at Le Méridien Hotel's downtown restaurant explode with the dark tartness of blackberries mixed with a bright and sunny lemon syrup. It's a beautiful pairing that brings to mind breakfast on a summer's day, even when you're huddled indoors on a bone-chilling morning. To make the pancakes even better, the chefs use local eggs straight from Morning Fresh Farms, an all-natural dairy in northern Colorado. And for those who don't want to wait for weekend brunch to get a pancake fix, you can order these babies every morning if you want to, since Corinne opens at 6:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.
249 Columbine Street
Sweet, fluffy pancakes may not spring to mind when considering pan-Asian fare, but at this futuristic Cherry Creek hot spot, the coconut pancakes marry the world of American breakfast comfort and Asian food flair. Each beautiful order comes topped with sliced strawberries, toasted coconut flakes, an addictive coconut-caramel sauce and classic maple syrup. You can only get them during breakfast and brunch, but when you do, be prepared to be amazed at how well they stack up to an order of dumplings. As a bonus, these ’cakes are made with coconut flour, which means they're gluten-free.
Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Pancakes
10195 East 29th Drive
When chocolate chips are added to pancakes, it's hard not to swoon. At Troy Guard's Stapleton joint, the theme is breakfast, and these sea-salt chocolate chip hot cakes fit in wonderfully. Each order comes with two large buttermilk pancakes topped with a slathering of sea-salt caramel sauce. From there the kitchen eschews the standard method of mixing chocolate chips into the batter and instead piles them on top, which allows each piece of chocolate to keep its shape but still melt in your mouth (and on the fork).There's also a cinnamon streusel crumble, a lovely addition that helps give the dish a crunchy texture atop the pillowy-soft flapjacks. You could add syrup if you want to, but with all that sweetness, you really need nothing else but a fork.
Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
Jelly U Cafe, 1700 East Evans Avenue, 720-596-4108
Jelly Cafe Capitol Hill, 600 East 13th Avenue, 303-831-6301
Whether you visit the Capitol Hill Jelly or its counterpart near the University of Denver, make sure an order of cinnamon roll pancakes is on your list. You can get one, three or five stacked up in a glorious tower of breakfast indulgence. No matter the size, each griddle cake comes topped with sweet cream-cheese glaze to help tame the warming cinnamon buried inside. It's a high-class dish in a laid-back and whimsical setting. While there, consider giving the blueberry-lavender pancakes a go, too, for a taste of sweet, dark jam balanced with sharp cinnamon.
Lola Coastal Mexican
1575 Boulder Street
Just try and finish a stack of three giant horchata pancakes served during this LoHi restaurant's brunch. Trust us, you will want to, but you might need help. The massive pile of buttermilk pancakes gets topped with cinnamon butter and a layer of sweet and filling horchata cream. As if that weren't enough, each order comes with a handful of puffed amaranth-pepita crumble, sliced strawberries and plump blueberries. It's a masterpiece in the fusion-food realm: comforting, satisfying and definitely not boring. The dish could easily feed two and feels like a steal at $11.
Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancakes
4140 West 38th Avenue
These large pancakes don't look that interesting, but each bite comes loaded with bits of candied Tender Belly bacon and melted chocolate chips. The stack comes topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a ramekin of maple syrup to give the pancakes extra oomph. The restaurant opens at 7 a.m. for weekend brunch and 8 a.m. on weekdays, and we highly recommend getting there early to claim one of the homey tables before the neighborhood crowd starts piling in.
1600 West 33rd Avenue
With a lovely drizzle of coffee-laced crème anglaise and a colorful pile of citrus fruit on top, the Vietnamese almond pancakes at Justin Cucci's LoHi hot spot make for a pretty picture. However, what you can't see are the handfuls of bitter cocoa nibs embedded within, an addition that helps bring out the nuttiness of the dish and balance the cinnamon. Almond flour is used in lieu of wheat flour, adding almond essence and making the pancakes gluten-free. Make sure to drizzle some cinnamon-chicory syrup over the stack for a dash of sweetness and to add even more depth to this unique pancake dish.
1047 Pearl Street, Boulder
You wouldn't have a clue that the pancakes at chef Bradford Heap's Boulder bistro are gluten-free if they weren't labeled as such. The insides are custardy and sweet while the outer edges have a golden crunch that plays well with the soft center. Each order comes with two giant rounds topped with luxurious Chantilly cream and tart blueberries (though the fruit changes seasonally). Swirl some sweet maple syrup over the whole thing and you have a brunch item sure to fill one happy diner, or make a table sharing the dish very satisfied.
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Buttermilk Pecan Pancakes
Sassafras American Eatery
2637 West 26th Avenue, 303-433-0080
320 East Colfax Avenue, 303-831-6233
Add a little Southern twist to your pancake game at both locations of this New Orleans-inspired restaurant. Each plate comes with three hefty rounds of fluffy buttermilk bliss dotted with sweet and buttery pecans. It's not a complicated meal, but the nuttiness of the pecans sing with the sweet organic maple syrup, making it a lovely dish indeed. Consider sharing this hearty order; it's a lot for one hungry pancake lover to handle, especially since you'll probably want to sample the pimento-chicken biscuit, shrimp and grits and other down-home fare.
2015 Market Street
ViewHouse serves a pancake as big as your head that's paved with caramelized apples, honey butter, crumbled walnuts and cinnamon-enhanced whipped cream. At this Ballpark destination (known more for late-night revelry than a.m. eats), chef Jose Guerrero has created the ultimate brunch dessert — and pancake lovers will want to try it as soon as possible. To make this pretty dish, the chef starts by sautéeing apples slices until they turn golden-brown. From there he tosses caramel in with the fruit to give it that extra depth of sugary goodness. Once the apples have been cooked and coated, a smooth batter is poured over the apples, engulfing each sweet slice. The whole thing is baked in the oven until fluffy, turned out onto a plate and topped with butter, nuts and whipped cream. It's an extravagant and impressive treat that pushes the limits of what a pancake can be.