lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes at cucina pazzo photo by carmen troesser

A Pancake Walk Through the CWE

Editor's note: Cucina Pazzo had closed.

Three brunch spots near the intersection of Euclid and McPherson avenues in the Central West End are turning out unusual, stellar pancakes. While they're all steps away from each other, they are miles apart in flavor. Here, the quickest route to first-rate flapjacks in the Central West End.

Start at Cucina Pazzo and order the Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes. Easily the best brunch dish on their menu, these pancakes are also the restaurant staff's favorite. It’s not an unheard of flavor combination, but here, it rises to new heights with an Italian twist. A dollop of fluffy citrus zabaglione begins to melt once it hits the ricotta- and blueberry-studded hot cakes. Fresh blueberries and a modest drizzle of maple syrup finish the dish, but don't be shy about adding the sea salt caramel butter served on the side. (If you somehow have extra, we recommend taking it to go.) If you order only one thing at brunch, it should be this.

Then, step next door for Cary McDowell's dream-like pancakes at Gringo. They're dense, moist and flecked with orange zest for a fresh, citrusy zing. McDowell serves them with a shower of powdered sugar and a little cup filled with cola syrup. This is a sensational short stack, and hands-down the most unique on our list.

Ready for dessert? Of course you are. Cross McPherson Avenue and walk down to Dressel's Public House for Guinness & Chocolate Chip Pancakes. Spiked with the Irish brew for a sophisticated sweetness and speckled with a bittersweet chocolate, there's no need for syrup to sweeten them further. (Although if you ask they do have fine, local syrup available.) A cloud of freshly whipped cream and a side of bacon crown this dessert posing as breakfast.