This is Texas, which means we are blessed with options when it comes to breakfast: tacos, pancakes, kolaches, pan dulce, and—if you are like my husband—pie and ice cream. This is why my “best breakfast” blog will have to be a series of blogs. This first installment covers the pancake-and-waffle category. (For delicious pies that pair well with ice cream or coffee, or both, read “A Time to Pie.”)
Several years ago, I ended up in Bastrop for a weekend. I don’t remember why. I think my dad called me and said, “Hey, we’ve never spent any time in Bastrop. Let’s go see what’s there.” So that’s what we did. The first morning we were there, my kids wanted breakfast. (Imagine that. You feed them, and then a few hours later, they want to be fed AGAIN.) I did some quick online research and found out that we needed to eat at a place called Maxine’s Café on Main Street.
A short while later, we walked into the cozy café in downtown Bastrop. Little did we know we were walking into the home of pancakes so delicious and beautiful that they once graced the cover of Texas Monthly.
Pecan praline pancakes: the socially acceptable way to eat dessert for breakfast. Maxine’s serves up platter-sized griddle cakes with buttery, sugary pecans inside and on top. If pecans are not your thing, don’t fret, you can try Maxine’s original, blueberry, or chocolate chip pancakes—or all three. (Or order an omelet or biscuits and gravy…it’s all good.)
After I tried out the pancakes at Maxine’s, I was convinced pancakes had to be as thick as cake to win me over. But on a breezy morning in Houston, I stumbled upon Fountain View Café. From the street, the café was unimpressive, but the line out the door was a sign that the street view was deceiving. The pancakes at this joint were thin, almost crepe-like…and so, so good. This was one morning I secretly hoped my kids wouldn’t finish their breakfast so I could eat their leftover pancakes. Of course, they made “happy plates” and left not even a crumb for me. It was probably for the best, because it would have been embarrassing for my husband and I to get into an altercation in the restaurant over who got to eat our kids’ leftovers.
After our visit to Fountain View, my family pressed me to decide which pancakes I liked best—Maxine’s or Fountain View’s. This was unfair. I couldn’t decide. I just couldn’t. The two cannot be compared. It’s like giving me a hot, moist yeast roll and then a fluffy, buttery biscuit and asking me to choose one as a favorite. Do you know what I would do? Eat the roll and the biscuit. And I advise doing the same thing when it comes to pancakes—try out Maxine’s and Fountain View.
But don’t stop there. Regain your appetite and travel to San Antonio to try out The Guenther House.
Enormous biscuits. Seasoned potatoes. Sweet cream waffles. Go ahead, salivate.
The Guenther House was once the home of C.H. Guenther, who established Pioneer Flour Mills on the San Antonio River. Visitors can tour the home, browse the gift shop, and eat an amazing breakfast. The menu is limited, but the restaurant serves all it needs to serve. Order the sweet cream waffles…and one of everything else on the menu. We enjoyed this breakfast so much that we considered staying at our table until lunchtime…partly because we wanted to try out the lunch menu, but also because we were having a hard time moving.
If you are able to breathe and move once you have finished your meal, purchase the sweet cream cake mix and sweet cream pancake mix on your way out. While in the gift shop, my 10-year old son quickly found the bite-sized free samples of sweet cream cake. I told him he could have only one sample. He stared longingly at the rest of the samples until he noticed a flour sack with “SWEET CREAM CAKE” written on it in large letters. He convinced (begged) me to buy it. I did, along with the sweet cream pancake mix. As soon as we left the gift shop, he asked me to give him a bite of the cake. I said, “We have to bake it first.” “What?!” he cried, in an astonished and exasperated voice. “You mean it’s not already baked? We have to take it home and do it ourselves?” I had no clue he thought the sack held an actual cake…and I said so. He defensively pointed to the bag and stated, “Well, it’s deceiving. ‘SWEET CREAM CAKE’ is in large letters and the word ‘mix” is tiny!” While this was true, I pointed out that it’s in a flour sack. I kind of thought that was a big clue that it was a mix and not a cake.
Yes, you’ll be sickeningly full when you waddle out of The Guenther House, but in addition to the cake mix and pancake mix, buy an oversized cinnamon roll to take with you. Eventually your appetite will return, and the roll, in all its sweet and gooey glory, will be waiting for you. It is ridiculously huge, but it is also ridiculously tasty. If Donna is working that day, she can give you tips on how to eat it…because just diving into it is only one of the many options for a roll the size of a dinner plate. Another great option is to share it with a friend…a good friend who told you where to eat the best breakfast. (That would be me, just in case you’re not picking up on the hints.)