Pancakes are for life, not just for Pancake Day. If you can't be bothered to make your own, here are some pancake restaurants in London that will do it for you any day of the year, whether you're after fluffy American stacks, or thin French-style crepes. Lemon, sugar and chocolate at the ready!
If you've got special dietary requirements, check out our guide to vegan and gluten-free pancakes in London.
1. Pancakes at My Old Dutch, various locations
Previously, it was easy to sniff at My Old Dutch, with its bright orange frontage, tiny yet strangely comfortable wooden chairs and mock-Delftware plates. It was defiantly, sweetly, uncool — but now, with new, pale blue frontages, faux flower ceilings and neon lights, it's actual, Instagram-worthy cool.
Regardless of the decor, the pancakes work. The classics are the sort you make at home — thicker than crepes, eggy and no buttermilk. You get just the one, but it is enormous enough to be satisfying without a distended stomach, and there's a choice of both sweet and savoury toppings. We went for a sweet pancake and chose our own topping: banana, maple syrup and cinnamon. The smell is divine. We also like the way the bananas clearly went in the pan first, batter filling around them, so the undersides are slightly charred and caramelised.
The Butterscotch pancakes are a newer addition to the menu, served in a stack of five, with your classic toppings covered, including fruit, bacon, maple syrup, and chocolate sauce — though not all at once, mind. Unless that's how you roll.
Vegan and gluten-free options are available here, too.
My Old Dutch has branches in Holborn, Chelsea and Kensington.
2. Where The Pancakes Are, Southwark
Cutting swiftly to the chase, Where The Pancakes Are sells pancakes. No surprises there. But the variety, size and quality on offer may be a little more unexpected. Breakfast pancakes, all day pancakes and evening pancakes. Buttermilk pancakes, vegan pancakes and Dutch baby pancakes (which sort of look like giant Yorkshire puddings).
There's sweet, savoury and more added toppings than you can shake a whisk at (banana marshmallow, pulled beef pastrami, and pear caramel are some of the options currently on the menu). If you want to see the word 'pancake' so often that it completely loses all meaning, this is your best bet.
Where The Pancakes Are, branches in London Bridge, Fitzrovia and Battersea Power Station.Vegan, dairy-free and wheat-free options available too.
3. Stack & Still, Leicester Square
A relative newbie on London's expanding pancake scene, Scottish mini-chain Stack & Still opened its doors in Leicester Square in late 2022, and makes the bold claim that there are 12 million different possible pancake and topping combinations from its menu.
Can't say we've tested that theory, but what we do know is that there are five different type of pancakes to choose from; buttermilk, buckwheat, protein, gluten-free/vegan and low fat. They come stacked up with your choice of toppings. Tried and tested combos include the Big Breakfast Stack (buttermilk stack with bacon, black pudding, sausage, baked beans and fried egg); the Piri Piri Stack (breaded chicken, Piri Piri sauce, slaw, sweet piquanté pepper, coriander and crème fraîche), and, for those with a sweeter tooth, the Bueno Stack (Nutella, mascarpone, Kinder Bueno, chocolate chip, caramel sauce and white chocolate sauce).
Alternatively, mix and match your own toppings from a menu of more than 60, including bacon, smoked salmon, onion rings, feta and fried egg at the savoury end of the spectrum; and banana, strawberries, granola, meringue and various syrups, spreads and dips at the sweet end.
Stack & Still, 17-18 Irving Street, WC2H 7AU.
4. Pancakes at The Breakfast Club, various locations
We first tried to visit The Breakfast Club's Soho joint on a Sunday morning. That was a stupid idea. The queue was snaking down the street. So instead we headed to a branch down a tiny side street opposite Liverpool Street station (also the location of the secret Smeg fridge that gets you into a cocktail bar) on a Tuesday afternoon. Much quieter.
They serve white flour buttermilk pancakes with bacon so crisp you could snap it in half, and on our visit they left us with the maple syrup bottle (we can't guarantee that would happen at busier times). For the ultimate comfort food combo, get a hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. Healthy types (and we use the term 'healthy' very loosely here) can opt for berry pancakes instead, or you can combine the two — blueberry and bacon pancakes, anyone?
Pancakes grace the breakfast and lunch, weekend brunch and dinner menus — so basically, anytime they're open, pancakes are available. Some (though not all) of the pancake options are available in a vegan variety.
The Breakfast Club has locations all over London.
5. Sarava Creperie & Cafe, Brixton (previously Senzala)
View this post on Instagram
Originally known as Senzala Creperie, the Brazilian cafe changed its name to Sarava Creperie & Cafe in late 2022, but its Brixton location and crepe-centric menu remain the same.
It's a great shout if you're vegan (or with someone who is), as many of the galettes (crepes, but made with buckwheat flour, which is also gluten-free) are vegan and there are vegetarian and vegan savoury toppings available.
If you're in the mood for something sweet, they've got you covered — fruit, chocolate and caramel flow freely through the menu. Being a tad hungover on our visit, we opted for a white crepe with caramelised apple, cinnamon, maple syrup and creme fraiche, the latter being a stroke of genius; a cool, slightly sharp zest to offset the lake of syrup the crepe swims in. And definitely recommended as a day-after restorative.
Sarava Creperie, Brixton Village Market, 41-42 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PS.
6. Pancakes at Polo Bar, Liverpool Street
Polo Bar is best-known for being open 24 hours a day, but it is also home to a dedicated pancake menu. Sure, the choices aren't as plentiful as some of the other places on this list, but your basics are covered (bacon & maple, fresh berries & cream), and some of the toppings are so left-field they have to be tried.
It's the only place in London that we know of which serves up CBD pancakes — topped with lashings of CBD-infused cream, smoked marshmallows, chocolate sauce and Munchies (LOL). That one's probably best left for late-night Polo pitstops, but if it's an early morning stomach-lining you're after, might we suggest the English breakfast stack (pancakes with a sausage patty, hash brown, caramelised onions, streaky bacon, lettuce and tomato, topped with a free-range fried egg and maple syrup)?
Polo Bar, 176 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4NQ.
7. Pancakes at Drunch, Mayfair
If you want your pancakes with a side of Instagram likes, Drunch is the place for you. Situated just a 30-second walk from the madness of Oxford Street (with a second branch near Regent's Park), the pretty, upmarket cafe specialises in brunch, and serves up some of the best pancakes we've had in London.
Thick, Scotch-style pancakes of impressive circumference are stacked up on your plate. You could opt for the banana and dulce de leche topping, but for our money, it's ricotta and berries every time. Very generous quantities of seasonal berries are beautifully presented, and perfectly complemented by the ricotta, topped off with icing sugar and just the right amount of syrup to keep sweet-toothed brunchers happy. In a nod to the Instagram crowd, the Nutella and hazelnut pancakes are served heart-shaped.
Don't forget to get a photo of the floral exterior on your way out:
Drunch, 1 Woodstock Street, Mayfair, with other branches in St John's Wood and Fitzrovia.
8. Pancakes at Granger & Co, various locations
We went for brunch at Bill Granger's Notting Hill outlet back in 2013, and still salivate at memories of the honeycomb butter that accompanies its ricotta 'hotcakes', as the pancakes are known around here. You get three hotcakes, with maple syrup and a slab of banana. They are gorgeously fluffy and the ricotta gives a deliciously sour note to take the edge off the sweet, making them unlike any other pancakes we've found. The place gets very busy so don't be surprised if you have to wait, as they don't take breakfast bookings.
Granger & Co, locations in Notting Hill, King's Cross, Chelsea, Clerkenwell, and Marylebone.
9. Pancakes at Christopher's, Covent Garden
If you're the sort of person for whom brunch = pancakes, get yourself down to American grill, Christopher's in Covent Garden. Of a weekend, their pancake and French toast brunch menu keeps pancake lovers happy. Buttermilk with bacon and maple syrup, blueberry buttermilk or buckwheat with berries, maple syrup and coconut yoghurt are your options — slightly at odds with the upmarket surrounds, but any qualms about responsible food intake soon disappear when you order an additional brownie and bourbon milkshake.
Christopher's, 18 Wellington Street, WC2E 7DD
10. Pancakes at La Petite Bretagne, Hammersmith
Everything about this Hammersmith creperie is French: the recipes, the decor, the music, the staff... and half the clientele. It's also another ideal venue for coeliacs as the savoury galettes are wheat- and gluten-free, and sweet crepes can be gluten-free if you ask. We opted for the most expensive thing on the menu: we cannot resist tartiflette, particularly not in such francophile surroundings.
La Petite Bretagne, 5-7 Beadon Road, W6 0EA.
11. Octopus pancakes at Coal Office
King's Cross based Israeli restaurant Coal Office has a rather unique dish on its brunch and dinner menus: Octopus al Lachuh, a savoury Yememi-style pancake with grilled octopus, fresh pomegranate and herbs, drizzled with a luxurious truffle harissa sauce. Clocking in at £29, it's not the cheapest place to get your pancake fix when a craving hits, but it's certainly unusual.
12. Cocktails and crepes at Crepeaffaire at The Hippodrome
French-themed crepe restaurant Crepeaffaire opens a new branch at The Hippodrome in Leicester Square in February 2023, and although the chain already has several branches around the capital, this one allows you to pair crepes with cocktails.
In fact, some of them are ready paired for you. The 'Get Lucky' is a Lotus Biscoff crêpe with whipped cream paired with an Aperol spritz, and the 'Oh So Pisco', matches classic lemon and sugar with a sharp Pisco Sour.
Obviously, the booze isn't mandatory and the cafe sells the brand's usual offerings of crepes, galettes, coffees, milkshakes and desserts too.
Crepeaffaire at The Hippodrome, Cranbourn Street, WC2H 7JH.
Original article by Rachel Holdsworth.