Shrove Tuesday, also known as “Fat Tuesday,” on February 12th is the official National Pancake Day, and IHOP (International House of Pancakes) and other chains are offering many specials to mark the occasion. As delightful as the chain restaurants can be, however, nothing beats a pancake made the old-fashioned way, either at home or at the next best place – a local diner or family-run luncheonette. Here are five of the best of those places in Connecticut to honor and taste the griddle greats of 2013.
321 Boston Post Road
Orange, CT 06477
Chip’s Family Restaurant has been a familiar and popular breakfast place in Orange since 1966. It has been twice voted “best pancakes” in the state by Connecticut Magazine. Greek immigrant George Chatzopoulos took over in 2003 and expanded the hours and menu to include lunch, dinner and dishes from his native land, but did not mess with the core of what made Chip’s famous: its pancakes. Chip’s pancakes come in many sizes and flavors, from basic buttermilk to the exotic “White Chocolate Rendezvous” (which comes with raspberries). There are Hawaiian, black forest, pina colada and “patriotic” variations (the last has strawberries, bananas and blueberries to represent the colors of the flag), along with wheat, potato, pigs in a blanket and various fruit and chocolate combinations. “Everything is homemade and that’s what makes the difference” says the owner, who likes to go by “Georgie.” “We are a family restaurant,” and one where patrons can still have “breakfast all day” – and that means pancakes from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. There is now a second location in Fairfield at 525 Tunxis Hill Cut Off.
765 N. Colony Road (Route 5)
Wallingford, CT 06492
While Rick’s on 5 in Wallingford is very well known for its “overstuffed omelets” and unique “malted Belgian waffles,” it is particularly proud of its pancakes. There are not many varieties of the grand griddle cake here – just basic fluffy, chocolate chip and praline varieties with or without toppings (nuts, whipped cream, strawberries, blueberries, bananas). But what is made at Rick’s is made very well – and at prices sure to please. For a mere $3.45, breakfast goers can enjoy a short stack of the aptly named “Fluffy Pancakes” – and those two flapjacks fill up the plate on their own. While there are a few toppings that can be added for a little bit extra, the only “fancy” variation served at Rick’s is the pecan praline, which is topped with pecans in a caramelized sauce. Open only for breakfast and the early lunch crowd, Rick’s is solid, traditional, hearty and inexpensive fare served up in an equally homey environment.
Related: Top Pumpkin Dishes In Connecticut
217 Pompey Hollow Road
Ashford, CT 06278
The Wooden Spoon Family Restaurant keeps a low profile on the web. But ask people and shopkeepers in Ashford where they go for breakfast, and they will tell you all you need to know about this local favorite. Cornbread, chicken fried steak and cash only are the first words that come out of the mouths of locals when they mention this little cozy gem on Pompey Hollow Road, but ask about the pancakes and they will roll their eyes and pat their bellies. These are not just plate-sized but platter-sized, and there is always a line for one of the dozen or so tables on a weekend morning. In addition to the basic flavors, owners Gene and Michelle Martin offer their pancakes in such delightful variations as orange cranberry and gingerbread raisin.The Wooden Spoon supports local producers, offering River Edge syrup which is made just down the road.
1261 Boston Post Road
Westbrook, CT 06498
Another of those places either too small or more likely too busy to have anything more than a minimal presence on the web, Cristy’s Luncheonette is where people who live at or are going to or from the shore go for breakfast – and at Cristy’s, breakfast means pancakes. Halfway between Clinton and Old Saybrook, Cristy’s has over 40 different kinds of pancakes on the menu. Apple, apple-pumpkin, blueberry and other fruited specialty pancakes (like “Coconut Pineapple Macadamia Nut” and “Reeses Pieces” – and that is how Cristy’s spell it, without an apostrophe) abound here, as do those wrapped around sausage or served with a variety of toppings. Oddly but somehow fitting, Cristy’s offers Aunt Jemima syrup with its pancakes.
25 Whitney St.
Hartford, CT 06105
Pineapple pancakes, apple walnut pancakes, banana pancakes, even golden potato pancakes – if you can think up a combination that includes the word pancake, Mo’s serves it. Big and bizarrely shaped (like snowflakes, each is unique) and topped with fruit – or not – the pancakes at Mo’s are a meal by themselves. With its vintage décor and tucked-away location, Mo’s has the feel of a local neighborhood hideaway, and with the homestyle cooking that such a place should and does deliver. There are long lines on the weekends, but for those willing to wait, the wait is worth it.