Waffles are breakfast’s best blank canvases: fluffy yet firm enough to support creativity. We love this champ of the a.m. so much we curated our own collection.
Reminiscent of the sandwiches we adored as kids, the peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip waffle ($7.50) served at Sunday brunch allows us to pretend it’s a good source of protein and potassium. But the chocolate chips, whipped cream and Melt’s special bourbon-flavored maple syrup turn it into a delicious treat. (Our moms probably wouldn’t have approved.) 14718 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-3699, meltbarandgrilled.com
The South Side
Chicken and waffles ($8.50, $7 brunch) is a sweet, savory, spicy and greasy harmony that’s acceptable as lunch, brinner or a hangover cure. Others try, but South Side gets it right with juicy tempura chicken perched atop a thick waffle covered in maple syrup, cinnamon butter and powdered sugar. Don’t skip the hot sauce on the side; it keeps the sweet stuff in check. 2207 W. 11th St., Cleveland, 216-937-2288, southsidecleveland.com
Vine & Bean Café
The magnum opus of waffles is Heather Haviland’s seasonal rhubarb vanilla bean ($11.25). The vanilla buttermilk alone would shame most waffles, but the rhubarb compote with strawberry, blueberry and raspberry conjures memories of summertime. The dish is finished with a wallop of honey-sweetened whipped cream and a drizzle of house caramel. No syrup needed. 12706 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland, 216-707-3333, vineandbeancafe.com