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Pancakes--Batter Up!! : Where to Go for the Best Flapjacks

Pancakes--like all things in Los Angeles--come in a wide variety of guises. We’ve tried them all, and if you’ve flipped over flapjacks, here’s where to turn.

Who but Michael McCarty of Michael’s would have the nerve to charge $14 for pancakes . . . made with Bisquick! OK, they do come with Guss’ bacon, Virginia sausage, or a killer ham called Square’s. But if you don’t happen to be swept away by the restaurant’s impeccable service, Villeroy and Boch china, Christofle silver and New Age Muzak bubbling up from all angles, the price does seem, well, ambitious. Still, these are wonderful pancakes; Michael’s uses only the finest butter, the purest Vermont maple syrup and the fattest Oregon blueberries. It’s probably the best breakfast in the city.

Michael’s, 1147 Third St., Santa Monica; (213) 451-0843. Brunch every Saturday and Sunday 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

The intoxicating smell of fresh roasting coffee is the first thing to hit you at Caffe Latte, a mini-mall spinoff of the hugely successful Hugo’s. Two kinds of pancakes are served: puffy buckwheats ($4.75) served with gorgeous blackberries on the side or orange-ginger pancakes ($5.25)served with orange butter and sliced nectarines. The wonderful coffee, available in 20 varieties, may just be the best in Los Angeles.

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Caffe Latte, 6254 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; (213) 936-5213. Pancakes served daily 6 a.m.-3:15 p.m.

The best apple pancake in town is served in the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The apple pancake ($12) takes 20 minutes, and I advise the wait. The pancake itself looks like a giant sombrero lined with baked sliced apples. It comes with sour cream, preserves or honey and small heated jugs of Sugarman’s Vermont maple syrup, which is the best maple syrup I have ever been served in a restaurant. And if you crave the crepe for lunch, just ask and it shall be served.

Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, 9641 W. Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills; (213) 276-2251. Open daily for breakfast 7 a.m.-11 a.m.

Dupar’s Coffee Shops are so proud of the batter they make that they sell it at the counter ($3.25 a pint). It’s the same batter at all five locations, but I have a friend who insists that when it comes to cooking, the

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Studio City shop is the most dependable. That’s where I went to eat pancakes, and I hit the jackpot. Pancakes ($3.65) come five to an order, with two types of homemade syrup: maple and boysenberry. I think these pancakes are the best all-around value in the area.

Dupar’s, 10236 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 766-4437. Open Sun.-Thurs. 6 a.m.-1 a.m.; Fri.-Sat. 6 a.m.-3 a.m.

Pasadena’s Konditori is a pleasant place with an outdoor patio and some very sweet pancakes. Sit outside to avoid the annoying polka music indoors and order the tiny, eggy Swedish pancakes ($2.75). These come seven-to-an-order, served with the traditional lingonberry jam. If you are looking to get filled up, better make it two orders.

Konditori, 230 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena; (818) 792-6600. Open Mon. Sat. 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Musso & Frank does not serve breakfast, but Chef Jean Rue, who ran the kitchen for more than 50 years, knew that his clientele included many late risers. For them he developed “flannel cakes” ($3.75), which are nothing more than unusually crisp wafer-thin pancakes. The trick is to eat them immediately: They get rubbery fast.

Musso & Frank Grill, 6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; (213) 467-7788. Flannel cakes served Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

John O’Groats, the Westside counter place where empty seats are rare, turns out high-octane pancakes on a streamlined, near-perfect breakfast menu. Pancakes ($3.05) come in two varieties, buttermilk and buckwheat, and for an additional dollar you may order them with pecans, blueberries or bananas mixed in. Both pancake batters are quite tasty--despite coming from a mix--and preparation is first-rate.

John O’Groats, 10516 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; (213) 204-0692. Open Tues.-Fri, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 7 a.m.-2 p.m.

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