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LV Recommends: 4 diners and restaurants to find pancakes supreme in the Iowa City area

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Salt Fork Kitchen, Solon

Let’s all raise a coffee mug to pancake-filled mornings. No office meetings or emails to respond to today: Welcome to your chill morning, drizzled with an extra dose of sweetness. We will have our cake and eat it too, because this is adulting at it’s finest.

Crêpes de Luxe Café

309 E College St, Iowa City

Originally from Morocco, by way of France, owner and head chef Hicham Chehouani has worked hard to make his delicate crêpes a pillar of the Iowa City food scene. This cozy corner café offers diners both sweet and savory crepe options, pairing the thin pancakes with toppings ranging from Nutella to coconut or cognac, and even vegetables like asparagus, spinach and herby pesto.

Most ingredients, even down to the buckwheat flour used in the batter, are purchased within a 50 mile radius of the restaurant, ensuring there is a uniquely Iowan component to this international culinary treat. Get a table near the kitchen counter if possible so you can watch the chefs skillfully prepare the delicate treats; each plate is a work of art.

El Banditos

327 E Market St, Iowa City

El Banditos, Iowa City

Breakfast at El Banditos is not to be missed. Those preferring a satisfying serving of savory Mexican breakfast favorites will certainly find something up their alley, (I’m looking at you, chilaquiles), as those staples are a cornerstone of this restaurant. Those on the hunt for something sweet will also be delighted by El Bandito’s brown sugar oatmeal pancakes.

A plate of perfect homey pancakes with a side of their zippy housemade mango syrup provides comfort and adventure in just a single bite. Usually without the long wait found at other neighborhood haunts, you can dive into the delicious cakes at Banditos promptly and be on your way for a post-breakfast stroll to window shop and walk off those sugar- and caffeine-induced jitters.

The Pig & Porter

1028 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids

A recent addition to the NewBo neighborhood, the Pig and Porter breathes fresh life into the Cedar Rapids breakfast scene. With an energetic, modern-contemporary vibe, the chefs here have made it their mission to cook everything from scratch and with locally-sourced ingredients as often as possible.

Try their Pineapple Flapjacks with roasted pineapple maple syrup for a little variation on traditional weekend brunching, and definitely don’t forget to add a side of thick cut maple bacon. Just like a Hawaiian pizza, this combo proves to be a genius blend of sweet and salty with a hit of acidity.

Salt Fork Kitchen

112 E Main St, Solon

Salt Fork Kitchen, Solon

When craving that back home country feel, Salt Fork Kitchen is the answer. Depending on where you’re driving from and if your stomach will allow the extra time, take a scenic route to breakfast to really set the scene.

The interior of Salt Fork is simple and cozy, and that should be all the indication you need that their buttermilk flapjacks are the real deal. The ’jacks are thick and oh-so-fluffy, and are perfectly accompanied by a healthy drizzle of pure Iowa maple syrup. Feeling nostalgic? Go ahead, order them with added chocolate chips, just like Dad used to make, and tuck into a hearty stack of weekend delight.

Recipe: Simple Pancakes

Recipe developed by Ari Ariel, 8-10 medium-size pancakes

Making your own batter doesn’t take much more time than using a mix and the results are so much better! The problem with most recipes is that they are too complicated–they require multiple bowls or separating eggs. Morning recipes should be simple. Just stir everything into one bowl and you are ready to cook. The important thing is not to overwork the batter–i.e. whisk the ingredients together as briefly as possible. If you are in a rush you can even skip the resting period. It will help make the pancakes light and fluffy, but they’ll be delicious either way.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 2 tbsp. melted unsalted butter, canola or vegetable oil
  • A small amount of butter or oil for the pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl.

Add the egg, milk and butter.

Whisk the dry and wet ingredients briefly until they are just combined. You should still see a few streaks of flour and some lumps in the batter. Don’t over mix the batter or your pancakes will be tough.

Allow the batter to rest for at least 30 minutes. It will be a bit thicker than normal batter.

Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat and melt or rub on a small amount of butter.

Ladle batter onto the skillet to make pancakes of your favorite size (¼ cup makes an approximately 4-5 inch pancake.) Soon bubbles will start to appear on the top of the cooking pancakes. Wait until these bubbles burst, then flip the pancakes. The cooked side should be golden brown. Cook until the second side is also golden brown.

Transfer to a plate and repeat until you have used up all the batter.

Serve warm with more butter and your favorite syrup.

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