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10 Best Pancakes in Los Angeles

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Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 6:00 AM

click to enlarge A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
Pancakes done right are nothing short of virtuous, and we feel the establishments serving the best ones deserve medals for their public service from the City of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the city doesn't have pancake sampling at the top of its to-do list, so we've eaten our way through not a few diners, breakfast joints and restaurants to bring you a list of the best places in L.A. to grab a stack of these beloved breakfast carb-bombs.

Within the world of pancakes are many different options. You may prefer plain old-fashioned buttermilk -- light and fluffy and drenched with salted butter and maple syrup sucked straight out of a Vermont tree. Or you might prefer bananas, nuts, coconut, chocolate chips and Oreo cookies jammed into pancakes that are smothered with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and powdered sugar. Then there's farm-to-table fare, old-school diner flapjacks made by amateur moms and pops, and high-end cheffy creations. In the culinary mecca of L.A. you can find all of these, and then some.

While we appreciate the trending spots that serve up pancakes for brunch on weekends, this list features places that serve them seven days a week, a respectful nod to the serious pancake eater.

click to enlarge Blu Jam Cafe - TRACY CHABALA
  • Tracy Chabala
  • Blu Jam Cafe
10. Blu Jam Cafe:

You'll have to bear Melrose groupies and Hollywood types if you want to hit up Blu Jam for pancakes -- that or visit the spot extra early in the a.m. before the cool kids wake up from their nightly playtime. Either way, their to-the-point pancakes do something no pancake on this list does: They provide thickness and crispiness in the same bite, getting a dark golden brown on the exterior, enough for a near-crunch that's really unexpected. Don't over-soak them in syrup and ruin this delicate crunch. Though they serve up three per order, these aren't the size of Frisbees, so it's a digestible portion. Order them straight-up buttermilk or with fresh blueberries. 7371 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 951-9191.

click to enlarge Oatmeal griddle cakes at Salt's Cure - TRACY CHABALA
  • Tracy Chabala
  • Oatmeal griddle cakes at Salt's Cure
9. Salt's Cure:

Yes, these pancakes are pretty toasty around the edges. We don't care. Chris Phelps and Zak Walters, the culinary masterminds at Salt's Cure, are the only ones to whip out the cast-iron griddle, which sears their oatmeal griddle cakes into a crispy and thin -- but somehow fluffy and very tender -- deep golden brown. Cast-iron works wonders for pancakes, creating kaleidoscopic browning on the surface with multifaceted flavors to match, and this sets the griddle cakes at Salt's Cure apart from the pack.

Despite their slightly charred edges, these have a mild taste, thanks to the oatmeal, and come with a rough quenelle of delicately spiced cinnamon butter and lots of powdered sugar. We're grateful for the modest portion, insurance against a debilitating case of pancake overload. 7494 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 850-SALT.

click to enlarge Blueberry ricotta pancakes at BLD - TRACY CHABALA
  • Tracy Chabala
  • Blueberry ricotta pancakes at BLD
8. BLD:

The building on the southwest corner of Beverly and Vista has been playing musical restaurants for many years; it was once home to Opaline by Hungry Cat's David Lentz, a restaurant we dearly miss. But BLD, which has been cooking with gas since it opened seven years ago, makes up for that with its blueberry ricotta pancakes.

Blueberry ricotta pancakes don many $$ breakfast menus around the city, and their corresponding recipes smear the pages of baking blogs and foodie pages throughout the cybersphere. We've had many, many, many iterations around town, but the ones at BLD -- brainchild of pastry chef Maria Swan -- are dynamite. Hyper-fresh and hefty, these are loaded with a chunky and dry ricotta (necessary, when making ricotta batters) and big, fresh blueberries. We've sampled too many that scrimp on the cheese and include dried or previously frozen berries, but these deliver. To top them off, they arrive with a small tin of warmed maple syrup along with a generous side of fluffy, room-temperature butter. Though these tip a bit on the sweet side, they are a must if you're a ricotta and blueberry fan. 7450 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 930-9744.

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