Pancakes are perfect for so many occasions. Woke up late and need food? Pancake. Doing a show binge and need a break? Pancake. On your way home from a night dancing? Want to show someone you care? You get the picture. Also, Shrove Tuesday, which is celebrated in some traditions with pancakes, is quickly approaching. We must prepare, Austin! Thankfully, our city has several local establishments that can satisfy a diversity of pancake preferences and occasions.
The Austinot is here to help you navigate to the BEST pancake for your preferences and occasion. Only for our readers would I take on the heavy lift of trying some of the best local offerings and presenting you with my thoughts.
To keep my tour as scientific as possible, I ordered the basic pancake at each establishment and sampled it without syrup, butter, or any other embellishments. For the Pacha and Counter Café tastings, I was joined by two small Austinites, Alessandra (5) and Mateo (3). They gave the pancakes a full syrup salute and then ran on a playground for an hour. After trying the other establishments, I burned calories with a brisk walk around a warehouse store with 100 pounds of groceries. All this to say, this Austin pancake tour is not for the faint of heart.
While Kerbey Lane Cafe is considered the go-to for pancakes in Austin, I know you were just there yesterday. I’m spreading the love by highlighting a few places you may not think of immediately when asked where to find pancakes.
1/ Pacha Organic Cafe
My first stop was Pacha Organic Cafe. A few months ago, Pacha was considering opening later and expanding its offerings. To gauge interest, the team sent out a survey. I returned the survey filled with haikus about my love for their pancakes. I was sure my picture would be posted, followed by pancakes for life, but it didn’t happen. I live in hope.
As the name implies, Pacha is an organic cafe and was started in 2000 in a former podiatrist’s office. Originally, the food and coffee were second to the items for sale. But as time went on, the demand for the food grew, and now we have the Pacha we know today.
Summary: Pacha pancakes are about 5/8-inch thick (did I use a tape measure?), and maybe baked in an oven to help them rise more. Pancakes are faintly sweet, with extreme fluffiness and a buttery finish. The specialty pancakes are quite popular, currently including pear bacon scallion, bacon cheese, and fruit.
Pancake hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. M-F and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
4618 Burnet Road – Website
2/ Counter Cafe
Counter Cafe was once the site of my brother’s birthday celebration. I’m not sure how we all fit into the original location, a former 1950s diner with limited space. But we toasted him and all other good things in this world, with pancakes.
This local eatery has two locations in Austin, with a third coming to West Campus soon. All locations serve pancakes or “hot cakes” all day. The cafe focuses on locally-sourced food, yet retains a diner atmosphere.
Summary: These pancakes have a denseness that highlights the sweetness. When you bite in, you can imagine it once being a thick batter, giving it an almost homemade taste.
Pancake hours: Served all day from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
626 N. Lamar Blvd. and 1914 E. 6th St. – Website
➡️ Keep reading: Have You Done Brunch at These 6 Local Restaurants in Austin?
3/ Dan’s Hamburgers
Most Austinites know the story of Dan’s and Fran’s, or have repeated a variation of the story. My favorite Dan’s story is from a friend’s son, about his new baby sister. When I asked about her, the little boy started talking about Dan’s. His mother explained when she went to give birth, big brother was treated to a Dan’s pancake. “He likes Dan’s; he isn’t too sure about the sister,” she concluded. With that kind of endorsement from a young Austinite, this list must include Dan’s.
Dan’s has four locations, three in Austin proper and one in Buda. Dan’s was established in 1973 and retains the friendly neighborhood vibe you never realized you missed. It is the kind of place you feel compelled to pull out the “sir” and “ma’am,” and many regulars have their orders brought to them without asking. The pancakes are picture perfect. On my recent visit, the pancake even happened to come on a blue plate.
Summary: Classic pancake with a touch of fluffiness. The pancakes are about 1/4-inch think and have a taste of sweetness that comes from a classic buttermilk recipe.
Pancake hours: 6 to 10:30 a.m. M-Sat. and 6 to 11:30 a.m. Sun.
Multiple locations – Website
4/ Waterloo Ice House
Waterloo Ice House is an Austin classic, founded on Congress in 1976 to serve that special Austin mix of business people, students, artists, and musicians. While there are now four locations, none of them on Congress, Waterloo still has that comfortable feel–like the Hill’s Cafe and Threadgill’s of Austin past.
Hilariously, by the time my entourage arrived at Waterloo, we were down to ordering one pancake to share. “We are doing a pancake tour,” we told the server in apology for the small order. “Well, this will be your last stop. Ours are the best!” she declared without pause. They were good.
Summary: Classic buttermilk with a fluffiness, as well. About 1/2-inch thick. A tad less sweet, but in a good way. Specialty flavors include banana brown sugar, cinnamon pecan, and blueberry.
Pancake hours: Served all day, open hours vary by location
Multiple locations – Website
5/ Star Seeds Cafe
A list of Austin pancakes cannot be complete without mention of Star Seeds Cafe. Star Seeds is the Mecca of 24-hour breakfast and delights in seeing you post-dancing (after you have worked up an appetite, of course.) Maybe it is the nostalgia of a good night dancing that adds the glow around Star Seeds, or the checkered floor and black round seats that take you back to times you didn’t actually live through. But make no mistake, these pancakes are worth a stop any time of day.
Summary: Classic buttermilk pancake, thicker than the others, both fluffy and dense. A light touch of sweetness. Besides plain buttermilk, order blueberry, chocolate chip, gingerbread, banana, or pecan.
Pancake hours: 24-hours
3101 N. Interstate 35 Frontage Road – Website
As I sat in a syrup-induced fog, I could only conclude that pancakes are synonymous with home. Maybe this conclusion comes from my Dad hovering over my adult brothers and me at Christmas, asking if we were ready for a pancake. Maybe it’s the carbs. Regardless, whether you are an old or new Austinite, I hope you find your pancake home.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Who serves your favorite pancake in Austin?
Camellia “AuntieCam” Falcon is a financial consultant by day and spends the rest of her time trying to make the perfect pancake. She can be found dancing, biking, and spoiling her littles around Austin, or asking herself tough questions at auntiecam.com.