Let’s face it, pancakes fall “flat” when it comes to nutrient-dense foods — too many carbs in its refined flour base and way too many with added toppings like powdered sugar and maple syrup.
As an occasional treat, however, for those without blood sugar or other health issues that require a super healthy diet, pancakes indeed taste great — especially with blueberries or chocolate chips and real maple syrup! The price is usually tasty, too, around the $5-7 mark. True, you could make them at home for a lot less, but there’s something nice about getting out and watching the world wake up at local “townie” places in our great New Hampshire towns, cities and villages.
Here are the three best New Hampshire pancake houses, in my humble opinion — they “stack up” incredibly well when it comes to amazing pancakes…
Polly’s Pancake Parlor, Sugar Hill
Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, NH., is generally regarded as one of the best spots for pancakes in all of New England — no prepared mixes here! Stacks of huge, delicious oatmeal, buttermilk, buckwheat and whole wheat pancakes include standard favorites like blueberry, walnut, coconut and chocolate chip and rotating specials like whole wheat pumpkin pancakes and apple cinnamon pancakes. Polly’s also goes beyond just pancakes with waffles, French toast, omelets and other egg dishes, muffins, maple bacon beans, salads, home made desserts, maple coffee, and sandwiches. “Kathy’s Fav,” a permanent menu item, consists of grilled cheddar, ham and apple slices served with maple mustard. Add-ons can only help make the perfect pancakes even better with choices like pure maple sugar, maple granulated sugar and “Maple Hurricane Sauce — thinly sliced apples that have been cooked in butter and maple syrup. Recently renovated, Polly’s Pancake Parlor’s landmark 1880s carriage house has given way to a more modern building that allows the owners to keep the restaurant open year-round. Fortunately, the traditional New Hampshire pancake house charm remains intact (including the bakery and retail area), as well as the “best in New England” pancake quality that has made Polly’s a destination for more than 75 years. The views are great here, too, overlooking the mountains of the Presidential, Franconia, and Kinsman ranges! 672 Route 117, Sugar Hill. Tel. (603) 823-5575
Intervale Farm Pancake House, Henniker
This friendly rustic pancake house has been in business for more than a quarter of a century and is everything you’d expect from a rural New Hampshire restaurant — deliciously fluffy pancakes served in huge portions, salt-of-the-earth service, and locals that add personality to the place with conversation over their cups of coffee. The dining room is pure New Hampshire with an aged wood exterior, and on the inside wood beamed ceilings and wood walls. Intervale Farm also produces its own maple syrup, and is it ever delicious on top of the pancakes! Strictly a breakfast destination, Intervale Farm also serves staples like eggs and bacon, waffles, and, of course, coffee. It’s great, too, that the Intervale Pancake House is right at the base of Pat’s Peak ski area for those looking to do a little skiing in the winter! 931 Flanders Rd., Tel. (603) 428-7196.
Parker’s Maple Barn, Mason
This incredibly popular New Hampshire restaurant is located in the middle of nowhere and feels like your own discovery — until you hit the parking lot, of course. Hundreds and hundreds of people, on a given morning, show up to this rustic, post-and-beam pancake house for some delicious breakfast and lunches, including the out-of-this world buttermilk pancakes, blueberry buckwheat pancakes and pumpkin pancakes. There’s so much more here, too, to get you in a comfort food mood, including eggs and bacon, Belgian waffles with fresh fruit, maple ribs, a maple Swiss burger with maple caramelized onions, maple baked beans with ham and brown bread, roast turkey dinners, chicken stew, maple frappe or hot spiced apple cider, and seasonal blueberry pie. Many with hearty appetites opt for the Parker’s Maple Barn Special (pictured above): pancakes, eggs, home fries, toast, bacon, sausage and ham.
The wait to be seated can often be long, but there are fun things to do before settling down to a great meal: Parker’s Maple Sugar House (only operating six weeks of the year, usually March and part of April) in a great seasonal attraction. Maple syrup production is done the old-fashioned way using wood-fired evaporators –it is a great appetizer to what’s to come when seated at the dining room. The Corn Crib Gift Shop instantly welcomes customers with the smell of scented candles — thus, soothing the formerly tense feelings of waiting for a seat. Maple products, jams, gourmet coffee, toys, herbal teas, a folksy book collection, natural log furniture and a great Native American section downstairs with arts, clothing and jewelry make the time go by quickly. 1316 Brookline Rd., Tel. (603) 878-2308.