Best of Phoenix

Start Your Day Off Right With a Sweet Stack. These 5 Restaurants Make the Best Pancakes in the Valley

After 12 years in business, Joe's Diner still serves some of the best pancakes in town.
After 12 years in business, Joe's Diner still serves some of the best pancakes in town. Natasha Yee
They are the ultimate morning treat, whether enjoyed as a stack drizzled with warm syrup or a shorter version served alongside scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. We're referring to pancakes, of course, the comforting breakfast food that never gets old.

While there are many places to grab a doughy, buttery bite in the Valley, these restaurants are guaranteed to keep you coming back. Here are our picks for Phoenix's top five pancakes, in no particular order. Head over solo or take your holiday visitors for a treat, because these metro Phoenix breakfast and brunch restaurants are sure to impress.

click to enlarge
Joe's Diner sits at Seventh Avenue just south of the Canal Trail in Melrose.
Natasha Yee

Joe's Diner

4515 North Seventh Avenue
602-535-4999
Joe's Diner, which hails from the vintage and vibey Melrose District in midtown Phoenix, has a welcoming feel. A sign featuring a piping hot mug of coffee? Check. Bright yellow paint with green awnings? Check. Upholstered booths and an old-school jukebox? Yes. But while its charm might draw you in, the pancakes will keep you coming back for more.

The pancakes at Joe's are made from a batter that ferments overnight, adding a complex flavor and some rise to the stack. The thick and fluffy cakes absorb just the right amount of butter and have a hint of salt to round out the flavor. They are doughy and sweet with a hint of tang reminiscent of your favorite loaf of sourdough. New Times dubbed it the "perfect pancake" back in August, and we stand by our assertion.

click to enlarge
The pancakes at Kiss the Cook pair well with bacon and an egg.
Natasha Yee

Kiss the Cook Restaurant

4915 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale
623-939-4663
This West side restaurant sits inside a plaza at 49th and Glendale Avenues. Beginning at 6 a.m. during the week and 7 a.m. on weekends, Kiss the Cook serves comfort food such as pecan cinnamon rolls and corned beef hash. The restaurant will inevitably bring to mind meals at grandma's house. It's cozy, cute, full of trinkets, and most of all, delicious.

The full stack here comes with an order of three pancakes. They're on the smaller side, so don't share the plate unless you and your companion order other entrees. Trust us, you will want these soft little creations all to yourself. As the butter and syrup are absorbed, the delicate cakes fall apart and disappear all too quickly. Add a side of thick-cut bacon and eggs to round out the meal, or just delight in the pancakes themselves at this neighborhood joint, which has been going strong since 1982.

click to enlarge
The Original Pancake House has served pancakes and eggs in Old Town Scottsdale since 1988.
Natasha Yee

Original Pancake House

6840 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale
480-946-4902
Surrounded by the glittery facade of Scottsdale, the Original Pancake House is a decidedly humble breakfast spot. The restaurant, which is connected to a Motel 6, has been around since 1988, and it's not hard to see why. Among favored dishes like the French crepes and vegetarian omelets, the Dutch Baby and the 49'er Flapjacks stand out.

Though the Dutch Baby takes about 20 minutes to arrive at the table, it is worth the wait. Inspired by the German pancake, it's baked in a cast-iron skillet at a high temperature which causes it to rise, then fall as soon as it's removed from the oven. Thick and doughy on the inside, while crusty on the outside, it's topped with powdered sugar and served with lemon wedges and whipped butter. The 49'er Flapjacks are a love child between a pancake and a crepe. These thin, wide, chewy creations take up the entire plate. So pour on some hot syrup and slather on the butter. Who knows, they may even replace classic pancakes as your new favorite.

click to enlarge
The Cajeta Flapjack at Otro Cafe is sweet and satisfying.
Natasha Yee

Otro Cafe

6035 North Seventh Street
602-266-0831
At Otro Cafe on Seventh Street north of Bethany Home Road, Mexican and American cultures and cuisines blend together to create a charming and popular space. Diners wait in long lines on the weekends, and the kitchen staff occasionally sing along in Spanish with the live musician in the dining room. The Cajeta Flapjacks were rumored to be legendary, a draw that proved impossible to resist.

They're topped with fresh sliced bananas, creme fraiche, cajeta, a thick Mexican version of caramel made with goat's milk, and candied peanuts. While the regular flapjacks are good, the cajeta version definitely deserves bragging rights. The creme fraiche neutralizes the caramel, so the dish never seems too sweet, while the banana and candied peanuts add depth.
click to enlarge
The Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders & Flapjacks is a popular dish at SugarJam.
Natasha Yee

SugarJam The Southern Kitchen

15111 North Hayden Road Suite 170, Scottsdale
480-948-6210
If you're looking for a party with a side of pancakes, SugarJam The Southern Kitchen is the perfect place. This north Scottsdale spot goes all out on the weekends with live DJs, many mimosa variations, and a Southern-inspired brunch. Weekdays are quieter, if that is more your style.

On a recent visit, a server recommended switching out the Belgian waffle that normally accompanies an order of Southern fried chicken for a side of pancakes. And we are so thankful we took the advice. The three cakes, already a tad sweet on their own, were topped with powdered sugar and served with sides of butter and syrup. They're the perfect meal paired with the crispy spice of buttermilk fried chicken and the warm comfort of scrambled eggs. The pancakes may also be ordered a la carte. But if you go for the chicken and pancakes version, you may even box some up for a midnight snack.
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Natasha Yee is a dining reporter who loves to explore the Valley’s culinary gems. She has covered cannabis for the New Times, politics for Rolling Stone, and health and border issues for Cronkite News in conjunction with Arizona PBS, where she was one of the voices of the podcast CN2Go.
Contact: Natasha Yee

Latest Stories