Waffles in Boston

Waffle. It's a perfect word for a perfect food. Perfect, that is, for its simplicity: dough cooked into flawless three-dimensional geometry, ideal for soaking up syrup. But despite the waffle's permanent place at breakfast joints everywhere, it's more than just a morning food. It's a canvas for flavor, a delicious medium that begs for experimentation. Go forth and sample a few of Boston's best waffle concoctions--though with so many good choices, it may be a challenge to decide where to start. Waffle, indeed.

(Photo: UpStairs on the Square by David Levin)

Updated: March 31, 2010

Batter Up

Sound Bites

708 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

Based on either a traditional or multi-grain batter, Sound Bites? waffles are hearty even if eaten simply with butter and syrup. But the best way to experience this gem of a breakfast is to pony up the extra few bucks and add a heaping mound of fruit. And when we say heaping, we mean it--the waffle we tried was piled high with sliced kiwis, apples, watermelon, banana, strawberries, grapes, mango, orange wedges, blueberries and (yes!) more. Throw in a generous garnish of whipped cream and some real maple syrup, and you've got a recipe for a serious food coma.

UpStairs on the Square

91 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

While UpStairs doesn't technically offer waffles on its menu, it does get an honorable mention for an off-the-menu item. With some advanced notice, the kitchen will go out of its way to accommodate special requests, including--you guessed it--the best Belgian waffle you've ever tasted. For a recent celebratory brunch, the chef brought in a waffle iron to create three beautiful golden grids adorned with fresh peaches, sweet Maine blueberry sauce and weightless dollops of homemade whipped cream. Simple. Elegant. Delicious.

Emack & Bolio's Ice Cream

23 White St, Cambridge, MA 02140

Normally, a waffle cone is just a vehicle for ice cream, but these are not your ordinary waffle cones. Emack's gooey specialty is a cone dappled with either original Rice Krispies, Cocoa Krispies or multicolored Fruity Pebbles. We tried the cocoa variety, which is a little chewy, a little crunchy and very satisfying. It goes especially well with espresso bean ice cream, rounding out that super-sweet mocha vibe. Yes, it's rich, and yes, it's a little over the top. But if the little kid in you isn't screaming with anticipation right now, there's something deeply wrong.

The Hen House Wings 'n Waffles

1033 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02118

The Hen House takes the old southern stance that barbecue, deep-fried meat and breakfast foods should be encouraged to play together. And you know what? There's truth in that logic. The house specialty, chicken and waffles, is a sublime experience (our notes include insights like ?OMFG? half-concealed by a barbecue sauced thumbprint). The idea is simple--pick your waffle (buttermilk, cornbread or multigrain), your butter (cajun, whipped or five-herb) and your chicken (wings, tenders or whole pieces), then slather with syrup and sauce of your choice. The Hen House's side dishes are also fantastic: Whether they're fresh, crispy coleslaw or savory collard greens stewed with slow-cooked chicken, they should help cure whatever munchies you've got. Ain't no thing but a chicken wing. And a waffle.

Mr Crepe

51 Davis Square, Somerville, MA 02144

The resident waffle emerges from the kitchen a shellacked, honeyed, crunchy-crispy-chewy, caramelized darling with high snarf appeal. Only available during the cold months (annually limited-edition and in-demand!), the Gaufre de Liege (aka Belgian sugar waffle) is a study on sweetness and texture, with golden edges rising to focal ridges of blackened burnt sugar. The Mr. Crepe crew will heat it to order, a weep-worthy courtesy. The versatile, yeasty, pearl-sugared treat, is fortifying for all ages at all hours'try it as an invigorating breakfast with coffee, a sweet snack with milk or a downright dastardly dessert. Snag them before they hibernate until next winter. It's your pastry-otic duty.