Weekend Pancake Quest: The Neighborhood Cafe

  1. Pancakes
  2. Pad Thai
  3. Scallops

These are foods that I really like but can’t cook well.

The only pancakes I can make somewhat well is Jenny’s recipe for Grandma’s Featherlight Pancakes

Buttermilk pancakes had been on my mind all week. On Friday, I rode the early bus downtown and wearily stumbled up to my desk. I perked up upon opening the cafeteria menu and seeing the breakfast special was buttermilk pancakes.

Suddenly the day felt shorter. I perked up.

Something funny (not really) about our cafeteria is that they’ve eliminated some of the employees and replaced them with self-serve kiosks that don’t accept cash. This might sound efficient but it’s not. Lunch volume is high. The cafeteria includes many stations and foods that may be sold by weight or item. For example, you have to order and pay for self-serve sandwiches before pick-up.  But the make-your-own sandwiches are ones you literally make yourself first before weighing and paying at a kiosk.

Oftentimes, kiosks will randomly update software in the middle of your order. One to two kiosks are always out of order. The corporate regulars have figured things out by now, but the daily visitors are perpetually confused.

Friday morning, I excitedly placed my breakfast order, pushing the “Breakfast Special” button (daily variations are rarely entered). The man operating the grill asked, “How would you like the egg cooked?”

“Egg?” I replied, “What did I order?”

“Sweet potato hash.”

The oily, soggy hash only strengthened my resolve to find Saturday morning pancakes.

Part of the reason I wrote this post was to praise some really good pancakes but also because I really wanted to complain about the kiosks. 

I woke up at four a.m. Saturday thinking about pancakes. 

The Neighborhood Cafe near Selby and Snelling opens delightfully early at 6:30 a.m. Breakfast is served all day in addition to lunch, happy hour, and dinner.

One of our cousins loves this place. The Neighborhood Cafe also gets mentioned in various online sources for having really good buttermilk pancakes.

This is exactly what I was in the mood for – classic, fluffy buttermilk pancakes. No special twists, no funky flavors. Nothing heavy or dense.

I found a little table to myself and ordered a pancake platter that includes two eggs, adding a meat (ham, bacon or sausage). As I waited, I sipped coffee they serve and eavesdropped.

The pancakes that arrived were larger than I could have expected. Food spilled off the plate. For $10, I consider this a good value. I saved half of my meal for Sunday breakfast.

And the pancakes? Everything that I hoped for. Really fluffy buttermilk pancakes with a slight hint of sweetness topped with a scoop of real butter alongside a plastic jug of syrup.

You won’t find fancy matcha tea lattes or nitro coffee, just a hot cup of Dunn Brothers brew with all of the sugar packets and creamers you desires. Which pairs perfectly with pancakes, of course.

Dining notes: There is street parking. Keep in mind this intersection is very busy. There is parking in the blocks nearby. I’m guessing weekend brunch is popular – go early or plan to possibly wait for a table. The employees came across as very welcoming and kind. Enjoy the local chatter around you.

The Neighborhood Cafe
1570 Selby Ave
St Paul, MN 55104
(651) 644-8887


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    Those pancakes look like perfection on a plate. And boo to the kiosks. That just sounds like a horrible idea on all accounts.

    • Jeni

      Oh Beth the kiosks are comically bad. Wrote a very polite letter to the manager and never heard back – I’m guessing she’s gotten a lot of feedback lately.

  2. katie

    colossal cafe has flapjacks with brie and apples and its amazing, but a darn good diner pancake sometimes just can’t be beat.

    • Jeni

      That flapjack is so good! Good mix of sweet and savory.

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