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Hot Plate

Heads up, pancake purists: It's worth the pilgrimage to Rio Ranch [9999 Westheimer, Westchase Hilton, (713)952-5000] for a short stack of tender buttermilk pancakes, gems of the Ranch Hand breakfast ($11.95 buffet or $4.95 $egrave; la carte). So scrumptious, these made-to-order babies don't need to boast a Texas-size girth to engage your attention. Redolent of fresh buttermilk, they are demure but pillowy-plump and spongy, flavored with a hint of sugar and gently griddled until faintly golden outside, moist inside. Pile on the kaleidoscopic array of fresh fruit and warm maple syrup for the ultimate in breakfast feel-good food. Rio Ranch creator, celeb-chef Robert Del Grande, painstakingly tested and retested pancake recipes to arrive at this flawless version. Del Grande, who holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry, won't exactly reveal his secret formula. But he offers this hint: The magic lies somewhere in the precise balance of fresh ingredients.

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Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

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