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A pancake cut into slices and fanned out around a cup of red chili sauce
A Korean seafood pancake.
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Where to Find Savory Pancakes in Chicago

Pajeon, okonomiyaki, latkes, crepes — they’re all here

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A Korean seafood pancake.
| Shutterstock

When it comes to pancakes, sweet breakfast stacks get most of the attention, but the savory variety deserve some love, too. After all, they’re reliably available at all times of day, not just breakfast, and in all sorts of restaurants, not just brunch places and diners. They also come in a range of shapes and sizes, with a wide array of fillings to satisfy any appetite. Here’s a list of some of the best places in Chicago to find pajeon, okonomiyaki, crepes, and latkes.

As of August 20, the city has mandated that everyone wear facial coverings while indoors. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Walker Bros. Original Pancake House

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The best-known pancake at Walker Bros. and the Original Pancake House is the plate-sized apple pancake, but the chain puts on a nice savory display, too, with the Danish Garden, an eggy, souffle-like pancake that’s just as enormous, but filled instead with broccoli, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms, and topped with Havarti cheese. Walker Bros. also serves a satisfying plate of potato pancakes.

San Soo Gab San

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Just about every Korean restaurant has some sort of savory pancake on its appetizer menu, but the haemool pahjun at San Soo Gab San stands out because instead of the regular scallions it’s stuffed with seafood: squid, octopus, mussels, and shrimp. This Korean barbecue spot has a second location in Morton Grove.

Gadabout

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Gadabout in Andersonville specializes in global street food, and that includes shrimp okonomiyaki, a Japanese wheat flour pancake cooked on a griddle and filled with cabbage, scallion, pickled ginger, eel sauce, bonito flakes, and spicy mayo. It also happens to be the only pancake on the brunch menu.

Connoisseurs recommend this Lincoln Square Korean bar for the fire chicken, but Dancen’s pancakes are entirely respectable. Customers have their choice of kimchi or seafood, both of which make a good accompaniment for barbecue and also serve as a sponge for soaking up soju.

Staropolska Restaurant

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At this Polish joint in Avondale, pancakes come in two varieties: potato and zucchini. But there are more choices to be made. To get the potato with sour cream or applesauce? To get the zucchini flat or stuffed with chicken, onion, peppers, and goat cheese? To order the appetizer plate or enough for a whole meal? Pancakes do require a great deal of thought.

The Crepe Shop

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A proper savory crepe comes with lots of French-style fromage, and the offerings at the Crepe Shop in Lakeview are no exception. Choose from ham and fontina, lox and cream cheese, or just cheese, cheese, and more cheese (fontina, parmesan, and mozzarella).

Izakaya Mita

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The menu at this recently reopened Bucktown izakaya has its own section devoted to okonomiyaki. Try them with Japanese seasonings like dashi, bonito, and ao nori, or add pork belly or shrimp and crab.

Brü Chicago

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This cafe in Wicker Park folds its rice crepes into a cone shape, all the better for customers to hold onto as they have a light breakfast on the go. Fillings include chicken teriyaki, spicy beef, and goat cheese, pear, and truffle.

Podhalanka

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Just across the street from the Polonia Triangle, Podhalanka specializes in old-school Polish food, and for old-school Poles, potato pancakes qualify as bar food. Here they’re served up with a side of applesauce and sour cream.

Shokolad Pastry & Cafe

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At this Ukrainian Village cafe, the crepes may be outshone by the pierogi and pelmeni, but they’re still available for whoever wants them. Choose from ham and gruyere, spinach mushroom feta, and the unspecified “meaty.”

Iguana Cafe

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The crepe menu at this pan-European cafe pays tribute to the great cities of Europe, from Amsterdam to Monte Carlo, and Berlin to Budapest. All contain cheese and vegetables, and some also have geographically-appropriate meat or poultry.

For anyone who is curious about Japanese okonomiyaki, Gaijin is the place to go. This West Loop spot serves both Osaka and Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki (the difference is that in Hiroshima, the ingredients are layered instead of mixed together and served with yakisoba noodles) with a wide choice of fillings, plus negiyaki, stuffed with scallions instead of cabbage.

Little Goat Diner

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The breakfast menu at the Little Goat includes chef Stephanie Izard’s interpretation of okonomiyaki, filled with pork belly and topped with a poached egg, a satisfying translation of the American diner trio of bacon, eggs, and pancakes.

Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen

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Manny’s is one of the city’s foremost specialists in a certain kind of potato pancake. Forget thin, dainty, and lacy: the latkes here are thick and hearty, an excellent accompaniment to a solid deli sandwich.

Ahjoomah's Apron Korean Restaurant

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At Ahjoomah’s Apron in Chinatown, the kitchen very kindly accommodates parties who are divided by pancake preferences by serving a half seafood-half kimchi version of its pajeon appetizer.

Walker Bros. Original Pancake House

The best-known pancake at Walker Bros. and the Original Pancake House is the plate-sized apple pancake, but the chain puts on a nice savory display, too, with the Danish Garden, an eggy, souffle-like pancake that’s just as enormous, but filled instead with broccoli, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms, and topped with Havarti cheese. Walker Bros. also serves a satisfying plate of potato pancakes.

San Soo Gab San

Just about every Korean restaurant has some sort of savory pancake on its appetizer menu, but the haemool pahjun at San Soo Gab San stands out because instead of the regular scallions it’s stuffed with seafood: squid, octopus, mussels, and shrimp. This Korean barbecue spot has a second location in Morton Grove.

Gadabout

Gadabout in Andersonville specializes in global street food, and that includes shrimp okonomiyaki, a Japanese wheat flour pancake cooked on a griddle and filled with cabbage, scallion, pickled ginger, eel sauce, bonito flakes, and spicy mayo. It also happens to be the only pancake on the brunch menu.

Dancen

Connoisseurs recommend this Lincoln Square Korean bar for the fire chicken, but Dancen’s pancakes are entirely respectable. Customers have their choice of kimchi or seafood, both of which make a good accompaniment for barbecue and also serve as a sponge for soaking up soju.

Staropolska Restaurant

At this Polish joint in Avondale, pancakes come in two varieties: potato and zucchini. But there are more choices to be made. To get the potato with sour cream or applesauce? To get the zucchini flat or stuffed with chicken, onion, peppers, and goat cheese? To order the appetizer plate or enough for a whole meal? Pancakes do require a great deal of thought.

The Crepe Shop

A proper savory crepe comes with lots of French-style fromage, and the offerings at the Crepe Shop in Lakeview are no exception. Choose from ham and fontina, lox and cream cheese, or just cheese, cheese, and more cheese (fontina, parmesan, and mozzarella).

Izakaya Mita

The menu at this recently reopened Bucktown izakaya has its own section devoted to okonomiyaki. Try them with Japanese seasonings like dashi, bonito, and ao nori, or add pork belly or shrimp and crab.

Brü Chicago

This cafe in Wicker Park folds its rice crepes into a cone shape, all the better for customers to hold onto as they have a light breakfast on the go. Fillings include chicken teriyaki, spicy beef, and goat cheese, pear, and truffle.

Podhalanka

Just across the street from the Polonia Triangle, Podhalanka specializes in old-school Polish food, and for old-school Poles, potato pancakes qualify as bar food. Here they’re served up with a side of applesauce and sour cream.

Shokolad Pastry & Cafe

At this Ukrainian Village cafe, the crepes may be outshone by the pierogi and pelmeni, but they’re still available for whoever wants them. Choose from ham and gruyere, spinach mushroom feta, and the unspecified “meaty.”

Iguana Cafe

The crepe menu at this pan-European cafe pays tribute to the great cities of Europe, from Amsterdam to Monte Carlo, and Berlin to Budapest. All contain cheese and vegetables, and some also have geographically-appropriate meat or poultry.

Gaijin

For anyone who is curious about Japanese okonomiyaki, Gaijin is the place to go. This West Loop spot serves both Osaka and Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki (the difference is that in Hiroshima, the ingredients are layered instead of mixed together and served with yakisoba noodles) with a wide choice of fillings, plus negiyaki, stuffed with scallions instead of cabbage.

Little Goat Diner

The breakfast menu at the Little Goat includes chef Stephanie Izard’s interpretation of okonomiyaki, filled with pork belly and topped with a poached egg, a satisfying translation of the American diner trio of bacon, eggs, and pancakes.

Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen

Manny’s is one of the city’s foremost specialists in a certain kind of potato pancake. Forget thin, dainty, and lacy: the latkes here are thick and hearty, an excellent accompaniment to a solid deli sandwich.

Ahjoomah's Apron Korean Restaurant

At Ahjoomah’s Apron in Chinatown, the kitchen very kindly accommodates parties who are divided by pancake preferences by serving a half seafood-half kimchi version of its pajeon appetizer.

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