Waffles are always hogging the spotlight. They’re always posting pictures of themselves online with all their cool friends, like fried chicken and ham. They’re always bragging about their Belgian roots or Southern upbringing. Meanwhile, the humble pancake is relegated to sidekick status.
This is not the case at Maria’s Cafe on 11th and Franklin in Minneapolis, where pancakes rule supreme. Among the South American breakfast specialties on the menu, there is a section devoted exclusively to pancakes (pancakes with plantains, pancakes with wild rice, chocolate chip pancakes). But the standout, rightfully appearing in its own section, is the Cachapas Venezolanas: corn pancakes ($3.80 for one, $7.50 for two).
These enormous pancakes are served perfectly golden brown and crisp on the edges, with the requisite scoop of butter melting on top. For an extra $1.75, you can have a dish of crumbled cotija cheese on the side — a nice, piquant addition, but not necessary unless you need your sweet and your salty fix at once. The pancake batter is made from a mixture of flours and is spotted throughout with small nibblets of fresh corn. On their own, the pancakes are sweet and delicious, though we wouldn’t blame you if you added maple syrup.
Housed in the Ancient Traders Market, Maria’s Cafe has a South-America-by-way-of-South-Minneapolis vibe, with Latin pop music piped through the speakers, cane chairs, Colombian tourism posters on the walls, and Colombian artifacts on display throughout the restaurant. The service is friendly and the coffee is always fresh. More than a decade of accolades from the local press line the walls alongside portraits of visiting political luminaries. There are no waffles, but the corn pancakes alone are worth the trek.
Maria’s Cafe, 1113 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404; 612.870.9842