Food Fight: Battle Pancake

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Breakfast is truly my favorite meal of the day. So many options, so many endless permutations of eggs and bacon and cheese, so many opportunities to blatantly eat dessert for an entire meal (I'm looking at you, French toast and crepes). With a hot cup of coffee and a good breakfast, your entire outlook suddenly brightens and you no longer feel as if you're slogging through the rest of your activities that day. Instead, you're revived and excited to have that entire day ahead of you.

Or, at least, that's how breakfast makes me feel.

And what's breakfast without pancakes? Whether they're served in a huge, fluffy stack or individually, hot off the griddle, pancakes are intrinsically loveable. Like grits, they bridge all cultural and socioeconomic gaps, can be eaten by carnivores and vegetarians alike, young and old, early birds and night owls.

But where do you go when you want the best pancakes in town? Certainly not IHOP or Denny's (although I love both of those places on their own terms, the pancakes can lean toward the overly thick and gummy). Below, two of the best breakfast spots in town duke it out for the Battle Pancake championship belt.

Buffalo Grille

Yes, the Buffalo Speedway location of the beloved restaurant will be history soon, as will the pancakes and other assorted breakfast items they've served since 1984. Not to despair, though, as the location on Voss will remain open and the owners are hoping to find another West U location sooner rather than later.

For now, enjoy the final days of the Buffalo Grille by treating yourself to breakfast-for-dinner. It's the meal the Grille does best and since it's served all day long, you don't have to compete with all the screaming-child-laden families who line up out the door in the mornings.

The pancakes here are a thing of beauty. I guarantee you that you have never seen a larger flapjack in your entire life (not counting the infamous birthday breakfast scene in Uncle Buck). You can order one or two pancakes, but if you're the only one eating them, you really don't need two. Each one is the equivalent of about two regular-sized pancakes but -- hey -- maybe you want four pancakes at a time. Who am I to judge?

The butter and syrup at Buffalo Grille are self-serve and part of the fun is greedily filling up a cup with warm maple syrup from the heated canister by the coffee and jellies. The pancakes taste slightly of buttermilk, but overall they mostly take on the flavor of the syrup, with little pronounced taste of their own.

Fountainview Cafe

I hadn't been to Fountainview Cafe in roughly ten years when I set foot inside of the little restaurant off San Felipe this morning. I was unsurprised to see that literally nothing inside had changed except a slight increase in prices. Nor would I be at all surprised to learn the same line cooks were still back there working their magic at breakfast.

I always liked the restaurant and its food, and still think that the world would be a better place if more companies adhered to the sign above Fountainview's counter:

The only reason I stopped going to Fountainview Cafe has to do with the clientele, not the restaurant or its lovely food. When I feel like being trapped among representatives of 1980s-style excess and the overwhelming vapidity of the wealthy upper class, I read a Bret Easton Ellis novel. Fewer calories.

True to form, those same characters were populating the restaurant this morning, right down to the businessmen comparing Blackberries, the overdressed housewives continually ignoring the order numbers of their very own meals as the numbers were called out right in front of them (and then complaining about it), the college students clad in pink polos and boating shoes home from a semester at private school and the gaggle of pencil-thin high school girls absolutely gorging themselves on food and making far too frequent trips to the bathroom.

Thankfully, the pancakes at Fountainview Cafe forgive all sins. They're almost impossibly thin, straddling the line between pancake and crepe, with lacy, delicate edges and a rich, buttery taste. I drizzled syrup on top and inhaled the plate before the next person's order was even called out, then sat back and enjoyed my perfectly cooked eggs overeasy and cup of coffee.

The Winner

The truth of the matter is that even if I have to sit in a pit of hissing, venomous vipers to enjoy the pancakes from Fountainview Cafe, I will. I'd forgotten how amazing the flapjacks there are, and I certainly won't let another 10 years go by before I'm back for a short stack.

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