Yesterday we told you where to get mediocre pancakes for free. Today we tell you where to get excellent pancakes for money. Our longtime favorite for many, many years was Old Devil Moon (now occupied by the well-regarded Northern Spy), which served up heaping plates of irresistible cornmeal pancakes with the fruits and nuts of your choosing. The fruit, of course, was cooked into the pancake, which we have always considered a requisite for any pancake to rise to greatness. Then we met the pancakes at Radegast Hall. And our lives were changed forever.
The unlikely home of NYC's best pancakes is a Williamsburg beer hall better known for its sausage than its sweets. But for anyone who hates the weekend brunch processing system, with its long wait times and haphazard service, Radegast is a Godsend. As you can see, it's massive, and you can roll in pretty much any time between noon and 3 p.m. and take a seat in the sunny sky-lit hall with no hassle. Later, a jazz band will play and you can order a mug of beer the size of a fat toddler.
The blueberry pancakes here ($9) are a little more fried than what you'll usually find in NYC, so while there's a tad more "guilt," there's a ton more deliciousness. (Also, it's a short stack. Two pancakes never hurt anybody. Harmless.) They come with caramelized bananas on top and blueberries cooked in, plus a big heaping dollop of mascarpone cheese. Because that's exactly what you needed. Get a forkful of blueberry pancake, banana, cheese, and real maple syrup. Insert in mouth-hole. Roll eyes back in head and moan softly. Remind yourself you're totally going to the gym later (or the next day). Repeat. Repeat. Oh, yes. That's the stuff. Radegast Hall // 113 N 3rd Street, Williamsburg
Should you want to expand your pancake horizons beyond Williamsburg (crazy talk!) here are some more options for best pancakes:
Cafe Orlin: Everybody raves about Clinton Street Baking Company, but who among us has the patience to face that mob scene on the weekends? Stroll a little further north to Cafe Orlin, the favorite pancake destination of Gothamist's Nell Casey. She swears by the pumpkin pancakes with cinnamon yogurt ($6.75), and also recommends the Millet Pancakes served with home made chicken sausage, goat cheese & beet salad ($10). Trangressively tasty! 41 Saint Marks Place // 212-777-1447
Shopsin's: For the truly adventurous pancake connissuer, Shopsin's is a mandatory station of the cross. Try the mac & cheese pancakes, or the mac & cheese pancake burger sliders, or the infamous slutty cakes (pumpkin, peanut butter, pistachios, cinnamon), or the pancake pizza with sausage & eggs! Whatever you do, don't mess with Kenny. (Kenny messes with YOU.) Essex Street Market, 120 Essex Street // 212-924-5160
Tom's Restaurant: For a more traditional pancake experience, we recommend the Lemon Ricotta pancakes at this 70-year-old Prospect Heights establishment. Done right, lemon ricotta pancakes unfold in your mouth like cherub's wings dipped in tart ambrosia. At Tom's the pancake experience, swaddled as it is in sepia-tinged old Brooklyn nostalgia, is worth the wait, and there are plenty of pancakes to choose from. The harvest pancakes with corn and cranberries are also recommendable. 782 Washington Avenue // (718) 636-9738
Do or Dine: Ain't no party like a pancake party in Bed-Stuy, and Do or Dine has pancakes to die for. Here you'll stare down the "Nutella Gingrich," which is aptly described as "a giant flapjack, absolutely bananas." Top it off with a foie gras donuts and immediately go back to bed. 1108 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn // (718) 684-2290
And yes, Clinton Street Baking Co. does do commendable pancake work. If you have the patience, they can be worth the wait—or get a group together and have them delivered? Clinton Street's rounding out pancake month with special pancakes made with chocolate chunks, fresh raspberries, and raspberry-caramel sauce. It opens for breakfast at 8 a.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m. on weekends. and n.b.: they accept plastic only during dinner. 4 Clinton Street // 646-602-6263
Here's video of the inimitable Kenny Shopsin showing how he makes his famous pancakes: