Malted Waffle at Lou Mitchell’s ($7.25)
When I was researching this story, I found numerous raves online for this waffle. So, given its simplicity, I decided to begin here. The waffle is slightly yeasty, crisp on the outside, and soft inside, and it set a high bar for the rest of the waffles. Spread it with butter and pour syrup into its pockets—this is what you imagine when you think “waffle.”
Chicken & Waffles at BadHappy Poutine Shop ($10)
I required myself to include one order of chicken and waffles in this feature, and BadHappy ensnared me with “maple-tabasco glaze.” These were the crispiest waffles of the bunch, and while tasty, the chicken steals the show. Chunks of dark meat are fried and drizzled with vanilla crème fraiche and maple-tabasco glaze. This dish is only available Sundays from 12 to 4 p.m., so head in for a late brunch.
Sourdough Waffle at Three Aces ($10)
With a buttery bananas foster sauce, a brûléed slice of banana, and cinnamon whipped cream, this waffle verges on dessert. The waffle wasn’t as crisp as I like on the outside, but it stood up to the toppings. Overall, this was a little sweeter than I usually go for, but sugar fiends should have at this.
Belgian-Style Waffle with Seasonal Fruit & Powdered Sugar at Eggy’s ($8.50)
A golden exterior, warm blueberry compote, and a shower of powdered sugar—this is one beautiful waffle. The waffle has a nice crunchy edge to it, and there’s just enough compote to scoop some up with every bite.
Daily Waffle at Jam ($9)
Jam rotates its waffle offerings, so you could be looking at a buckwheat waffle topped with whitefish (which “arrived this morning”) and a quail egg, swimming in a crimini mushroom sauce. I opted for the half portion, but could have easily put away a serving twice this size. The waffle tastes light but is strong enough to hold up to the substantial toppings, and the flaky fish was a surprisingly nice accompaniment to the savory waffle. Having had this beauty, I wouldn’t hesitate to order any daily waffle that Jam put on their menu.
Five-Spice Waffle at Sola ($8)
After eating the five-spice waffle with raspberry preserves and three-cheese cream at Sola, I wondered why we don’t top waffles with jam all the time. The waffle tastes like it’s spiced with pumpkin pie spices, but it’s too soft overall. However, the topping is genius—the cream tastes like frosting and the preserves were rich and fruity.
Vanilla Bean Waffle at Ina’s ($8.99)
This waffle really engages the senses. The maple syrup served on the side is warm to the touch and the waffle crackles when you cut into it. There are flecks of vanilla in the waffle, which is sweet and soft inside. The addition of fruit made the dish feel moderately healthy, and you don’t actually need the extra sweetness from the syrup. But when the restaurant actually warms the syrup, you’d be crazy not to use it.
Nori Waffle with Sake Maple Syrup & Pork Patties at Belly Q ($12)
This dish effectively combines sweet and savory flavors. Nori is an edible seaweed, so the waffle is flecked with green, and the pork patties are made with lemongrass. I’ve never been one to complain when maple syrup poured over pancakes or waffles encroaches on the breakfast meat on my plate, so covering the whole dish with syrup works marvelously.
Belgian Waffle at Toni Patisserie ($7)
Toni Patisserie has just launched Waffle Weekends, which means every Saturday and Sunday you can get a Belgian waffle with maple syrup, berry compote, or a savory cheese waffle with ratatouille sauce. In the name of journalism, I had them all. I liked the savory waffle, which had gruyere baked into the waffle and lots of basil on top, and I also liked the berry compote.
But the plain is the waffle I would happily eat for breakfast every day. Slather on the soft, salted butter and occasionally dip an edge into the maple syrup. The ridges are crunchy, the interior is soft, and this waffle has proven that sometimes the simplest things are the best.