Pancake Pantry, Nashville, Tenn.
How many different ways are there to serve a pancake? Well, if you take the word of Nashville’s Pancake Pantry, the answer is 22. Yes, the Pancake Pantry offers that many selections of just pancakes on its menu, and it offers other selections as well for those who don’t feel like trying the restaurant’s namesake.
But if you’re coming here, chances are it’s for the round griddle cakes that are cooked to perfection with the lightest touch. Pancake Pantry’s philosophy is to never pat a pancake because that squeezes the air out of them and changes the texture to something that is below their standards of quality. The result is several delicious cakes with a plethora of toppings available.
Want to go with fruit? You have your choice of strawberry, blueberry, cherry, raspberry, lingonberry, orange and an apricot-lemon mix. In a mood for the sweet stuff? Try the sugar and spice (pictured at top), Carribean, pecan, Swiss chocolate or chocolate sin (chocolate raspberry) pancakes. Want a mix of sweet and savory? Pigs in blankets or Santa Fe corncakes with green chiles are for you. In short, if you can’t find something you like here, you just plain don’t like pancakes.
Now, to address my meal here. As you probably gathered, I went with the sugar and spice pancakes, which are made from a cinnamon sugar batter and topped with powdered sugar and butter, then served with applesauce and either maple or cinnamon cream syrup. I chose cinnamon cream. I also added a side of hash browns, because they’re pretty well-known for those too. If you go this route, I recommend pouring the applesauce on there too and getting all those flavors mixed together, like so.
The flavors work incredibly well together, and these are not small pancakes. They will fill you up, and you will not leave here hungry unless you haven’t eaten recently. If with a friend, I recommend asking for one thing of hash browns if those interest you (the potatoes are really high-quality) and splitting them along with your separate pancake orders.
If you want something besides pancakes, Pancake Pantry also serves French toast, waffles and several egg-and-meat dishes. They’ll go up to seven ingredients in their omelets. They also serve lunch items here, strangely enough.
As far as the atmosphere goes, this place attracts all of Nashville, but be ready for the college crowd. Pancake Pantry is right between the campuses of Vanderbilt University and Belmont University, which makes it an easy walk for students from both schools to get their breakfast fix. While I was here, I saw the Belmont softball coach take a player to Pancake Pantry as part of her recruiting visit. It’s a great tool for those schools.
Time to go: Breakfast, and come early. Although Pancake Pantry is open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., the line increases exponentially after 9 a.m. Come at the wrong time and it’ll take forever to get a table.
Wait during my visit: Get comfortable. The line was to the door when I arrived at 9 a.m. I spent roughly 20 minutes waiting for a table to pop free. When I left, the line was well out the door and circled around a side of the building. You have been warned.
Location: The Pancake Pantry has been at 1796 21st Avenue South in Nashville, Tenn. since it opened in 1961.
Cost: Most pancakes will run you around $8.
Parking: There’s a lot behind the restaurant, but this is also part of the come early recommendation. The lot is free if you use it for less than 90 minutes. If you’re there at the wrong time, you’ll have to spend a couple bucks.
Website: The Pancake Pantry
Signature items: Um…pancakes.