Al's vs. Fat Nat's: Dueling Diner Pancakes

Categories: Food Fight

8194265026_e70361c3ae.jpg
Lara604

One of the most interesting things about diner pancakes -- which, at their worst, are as flat as Kansas and taste like blanket -- is that humans have been making them forever, potentially as far back as the Stone Age.

Yet this ubiquitous breakfast dish elicits strong personal associations -- being a kid and getting hopped up on sugar, late night trips to the diner with college friends -- strong enough to evoke carefully camouflaged longing even in this modern era of carb-counting. The Midwestern Madeleine, a good pancake offers a kind of satisfaction not easily found in other foods.

See also:
The Kenwood's pancakes with black walnut butter: 50 Favorite Dishes, no. 27

354_95475330353_9902_n.jpg
Courtesy Al's Breakfast Facebook page.
The diminutive, but powerful, Al's Breakfast.

The Venue: Our food fight this week pits the blueberry pancakes at Fat Nat's Eggs against the pancakes at Al's Breakfast, the James Beard Award-winning standard-bearer in Dinkytown. Can this suburban challenger go a few rounds with the perennial champ?

The Weigh In: Fat Nat's is a roomy, friendly place where old men meet for weekly coffee klatches, young families happily herd in their kids, and everyone else fills in the empty spots. It's loud, spacious, and well-lit. In contrast, Al's Breakfast is a small, tchotchke-filled above-ground dungeon. The place is lovely and mellow on an early weekday morning, but it can be a huge hassle on weekends, when hungry diners lurk for 30 to 45 minutes behind the happy customers sitting at its 14 stools, waiting for them to finish eating and vacate a seat.

Round 1 - The Batter/Cake:
Fat Nat's: Covering an 8-inch plate, these pancakes come with crispy edges. We found ourselves eating around the edges first and leaving the meatier middle for later. The crumb gives the cake a nice heft without being too chewy and stands up to the berries. There is just a hint of sweetness to the batter that suggests a bit of vanilla.
Al's Breakfast: These pancakes are a bit smaller than the ones at Nat's. More elastic and tangy than its competitor, we suspect these may be buttermilk pancakes even if the menu makes a distinction. While that's a draw for some, for us they were just a bit too chewy.


My Voice Nation Help
26 comments
Nathan Caspers
Nathan Caspers

I don't give two rats asses about no pancakes. Both these places serve Folger's quality coffee so I'm out.

Elisabeth
Elisabeth

Mmmmm Fat Nats....I might have to go on Saturday now. : ) 


Нина Суворова
Нина Суворова

Al's is gross! The staff dont use gloves when handling meat and they dont wear hairnets. The whole place is filthy with dust and bacteria.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

Victor's. Best hands down

Jenny King
Jenny King

Al's I Iove their blackberry pancakes...

Michael Danko
Michael Danko

Yes!!! Fat Nat's Eggs - New Hope is the best around. I have been going there since they opened.

James Booen
James Booen

Johnson's Bacon and Egg Cafe. Columbia Heights

Mark Snyder
Mark Snyder

Fat Nat's makes great pancakes but there's none better than Al's Wally Blues.

Sara Ball
Sara Ball

Fat Nat's is the best! Everything the offer is fantastic! Smothered Amercian fries goes with everything!!

sara3deee
sara3deee

Fat Nat's is the ultimate breakfast experience!  Love everything about them!

Courtney Hannon
Courtney Hannon

Obviously Prince serves the best pancakes. Pancakes.

Rachael Morford
Rachael Morford

Oh god....now I want some pancakes. Good things there is NO bad time for pancakes!

Streicher's
Streicher's

Going to have to stick up for Fat Nats here. Also, don't forget to try their Green Chili Huevos!

Alex Browne
Alex Browne

Neither! Papas has the best pancakes. Agree Michelle Oleary?

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...