We all know the importance of eating a good breakfast. It improves performance at school (or work) and sets the tone for the day–yada, yada, yada. But sometimes we want breakfast to just be comforting, and few things bring comfort like soft, fluffy, pillow-like pancakes. The D.C. area gets this. That’s why we can choose from traditional options and decadent selections that are more like cakes masquerading as pancakes. Whether you like gluten-free, fruity, chocolaty or simple, the selection around here really stacks up.

Photo: Capsun Poe via Flickr

First Watch
This breakfast-and-lunch-only spot is a hit with grown-ups and adults alike. Picky eaters happily devour the chocolate chip pancake from the kids’ menu. It comes with a cup of mixed fresh fruit, bacon or sausage, and a drink–plus a menu the littles can color. Grown-up pancake options include lemon ricotta–two pancakes served with marinated berries and lemon curd.

Cost: $5.99 for kids’ pancakes, $8.99 for lemon ricotta
Where: 8 D.C.-area locations
Open: 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Online: firstwatch.com

Silver Diner
Don’t be fooled by the old-fashioned diner feel (think: mini jukeboxes on the tables). This place emphasizes farm-to-table dining and locally sourced eats. For adults, pancake options include traditional stacks or quinoa coconut with blueberries, grilled bananas, strawberries, agave and cinnamon sour cream. Kids can enjoy silver dollar pancakes (chocolate chips optional) with an egg and fruit. Bonus: The old-fashioned paper truck they get to play with during the meal and take home.

Cost: $4.99 for kids’ pancakes, $11.99 for quinoa coconut, $9.99 for buttermilk pancakes and eggs
Where: 13 D.C.-area locations
Open: See website for locations’ hours
Online: silverdiner.com

Original Pancake House
While we are on chains, this one also rates high. Founded 64 years ago in Oregon, it has three local locations and about 15 types of pancakes. Yes, really. Kids under 12 can get “dollar”-size pancakes, regular pancakes and Two Pigs in a Blanket (sausage links wrapped in pancakes) as stand-alone orders or as combos with eggs and bacon. The teen and up set can choose from wheat germ pancakes, Three Little Pigs in a Blanket, Hawaiian pancakes filled with crushed pineapple, sourdough flap jacks and – wait for it – bacon pancakes, filled with bits of bacon.

Cost: $8.25 to $12.50, $4.25 to $6.25 for kids
Where: 7395 Lee Highway, Falls Church; 7700 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 12224 Rockville Pike, Rockville
Open: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Online: ophrestaurants.com

Ted’s Bulletin
My kids are partial to Mr. Breakfast any time of day. It’s a single but sizable pancake with a happy face made of fruit and a strip of bacon. For heartier appetites, there’s the pancake stack with two eggs and hash browns. Of course, you might want to save room for one of Ted’s milkshakes in flavors such as PB&J and S’mores, or a Ted’s Tart, a homemade Pop-Tart-like treat.

Cost: $5.99 for Mr. Breakfast, $10.49 for the stack
Where: Five area locations
Open: See website for locations’ hours
Online: tedsbulletin.com

Photo: amanda kelso via Flickr

Founding Farmers
This local chain with three locations and two spin-offs serves up buttermilk pancakes for breakfast and brunch with some sweet twists. Make yours a bananas foster, red velvet or carrot cake order. Wash them down with a New York egg cream or scratch soda in grapefruit, lemon-lime, orange, ginger, hibiscus, vanilla and seasonal flavors.

Cost: $7-$9
Where: 1924 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 12505 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac; 1800 Tysons Blvd., Tysons
Open: See website for locations’ hours
Online: wearefoundingfarmers.com

Busboys and Poets
Another local success story, this “community gathering place,” as it calls itself has six area locations serving sweet potato pancakes with seasonal fresh fruit. The kids’ menu is sparse with just three offerings — cheese quesadilla, pasta and grilled chicken – but the celebrity sightings are plentiful. Actor Matt Dillon, writer Alice Walker and basketball star Alonzo Mourning have all dined here.

Cost: $10
Where: six D.C.-area locations
Open: See website for locations’ hours
Online: busboysandpoets.com

Open 24 hours, you can kill a pancake craving here with eight varieties: double chocolate, peanut butter, white chocolate, red velvet and autumn harvest. There’s also regular ol’ golden buttermilk, served with strawberry, blueberry or cherry preserves, but next to the others, they seem downright boring. Pancakes also make an appearance on the kids’ menu.

Cost: $6.95 to $9.90; $4.50 for kids
Where: 1151 Elden St., Herndon; 377 Maple Ave. W, Vienna
Open: 24 hours
Online: amphoragroup.com

The Commissary
Try a twist on the usual here with a plate of potato pancakes, served with sour cream and apple sauce, but if that’s not your thing, don’t worry. You can get a short or full stack of buttermilky goodness, too. A gluten-free option with cinnamon pear compote is also available, or ask for the pancake platter, which comes with two eggs, a choice of meats and two plain cakes. Kiddos can choose from plain, blueberry, chocolate chip and gluten-free, too.

Cost: $6 to $13; $5 to $7 for kids
Where: 1443 P St., NW
Open: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday
Online: commissarydc.com

The Market Lunch
If wandering through D.C.’s famous Eastern Market makes you hungry, snag a short stack (two pancakes) or a full stack (three) in five varieties, including blueberry buckwheat and chocolate chip. Or reverse that and grab a bite first before working off the meal with a walk through

Where: 225 Seventh St., SE
Open: 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays
Online: easternmarket-dc.org

Photo: jennifer durban via Flickr

Lincoln’s Waffle Shop
Don’t be fooled by the name of this family-run business that’s been feeding D.C. since 1990. The menu has plenty of pancake options, including chocolate chip, banana and blueberry, each of which is available alone or with eggs, sausages or a salmon cake.

Cost: $5.95 to $13.95
Where: 504 10th St., NW
Open: 5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Online: lincolnswaffleshop.com  

Peacock Café
For a health spin on a breakfast or brunch indulgence, head here for Maizar’s Pancakes, made with multigrain or organic white flour and served with bananas, walnuts and syrup. Accompany that with a no-sugar-added kiddo smoothie in orange-strawberry or orange-banana.

Cost: $12.95 for pancakes, $2.50 for kids’ smoothies
Where: 3251 Prospect St., NW
Open: Brunch is served until 4 p.m.
Online: peacockcafe.com

Miss Shirley’s Café
This Maryland eatery marries Southern staples with fresh ingredients from the Chesapeake Bay area. It offers griddle cakes topped with powdered sugar and garnished with a raspberry puree plate glaze in addition to whipped butter and pure maple syrup. Go for the original or branch out with Cinnamon Danish with cream cheese icing, banana chocolate chip with chocolate syrup (because chocolate begets chocolate), raspberry white chocolate or fruity flavors such as fresh banana, blackberry, blueberry, raspberry or strawberry.

Cost: $9.99 to $10.99
Where: 513 Cold Spring Lane, Baltimore; 750 E. Pratt St, Baltimore; 1 Park Place, Annapolis
Open: 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Online: missshirleys.com

Bar Pilar
OK, so yes, this has the word “bar” in it and that means it’s not traditionally a kids’ place, but stick with us here. This might be a good brunch option for a kid-free day. They are possible! Especially when a buttermilk-fried chicken pancake with pork belly and pickled jalapenos calls. Just sayin’.

Cost: $17
Where: 1833 14th St., NW
Open: Brunch only on weekends starting at 11 a.m.
Online: barpilar.com

Where do you go for delicious pancakes? Tell us in the comments below.

–Stephanie Kanowitz

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