As evidenced by the name of my food blog, I take pancakes seriously. So let’s start with some expectations: For this list of the 10 best pancakes in Houston, I stuck to the traditional American definition of pancakes: fluffy, stove-cooked, sweet and typically topped with syrup. No oven-puffed Dutch babies, no whisper-thin crepes and, for the most part, no savory pancakes (even though Houston is home to a few notable ones).
I define a good pancake mostly by its crumb and flavor, as well as its heft-to-lightness ratio. I prefer thicker pancakes with a tight, almost cakey crumb (though I can occasionally be swayed by a rich, porous crumb) — pancakes are essentially a vehicle for eating cake in the morning, after all, which is why I love them. Lightness is essential, and a faint tang of buttermilk is an occasional plus. Chewy pancakes are my absolute nemesis.
The pancake landscape in Houston is quite vast and varied outside of the typical diners that might immediately come to mind (sorry, Fountain View Cafe, you're not my jam), so forget any rubbery, uninspired diner pancakes you may have ingested in the past and rally some friends for a crawl through the following list of stunning carb creations:
Honorable mentions: Gluten-free pancakes are a relatively scarce find on Houston menus, so Ruggles Green deserves a nod for its gluten-free lemon poppyseed pancakes, which are pretty much on par with its regular pancake offering: delicately lemony, springy, neat rounds dotted with poppyseeds ($8). Additional honorary mentions go to the whole wheat pancakes at Le Peep, which the lowbrow portion of my tastebuds adore, and Revival Market's peaches and cream pancakes (the accompanying peach jam is one of my favorite pancake toppings in Houston).
PESKA: It feels ridiculous to call out the humble pancake at an establishment that does dinner service and seafood so well. However, freshness and superb execution of the delicate pancake duo that I ordered in a last Hail Mary round of PESKA’s unlimited brunch one morning just speak to the excellence that the PESKA team infuses into its dishes. Though on the thinner side, these tender, scratch-made buttermilk pancakes are crowned with seasonal fruit for a beautiful and delicious presentation. Part of the $46 unlimited weekend buffet brunch.
Dish Society: This modern, counter-service dining establishment specializes in high-quality, locally sourced ingredients and gets extra points for working whole grains into its enormous double stack of fluffy, subtly grainy pancakes. Featuring gristmill organic wheat with the option to add white chocolate chips, candied pecans, strawberries or banana for an extra $1.50, the pancakes can be a tough choice to order over the Nutella French toast, but the well-griddled, sugar-sprinkled stack is worth it. $6.
Davis Street: It’s by virtue of the rich amber caramel that blankets this three-pancake-strong stack that the bananas Foster pancakes at Davis Street made the list. Though the pancakes are short on the banana (just three sadly un-caramelized banana coins top the stack) and the pancakes take on a bit of chew once they've cooled, when hot, they're tender, fluffy and essentially blanketed in liquid candy. They’re some of the priciest pancakes I’ve encountered and definitely only for those with an intense sweet tooth. $16.