I lived in LA for a little under five years while in college at USC and during that time the City of Angels provided me many excellent dining experiences. My last trip to LA, for USC’s homecoming game, gave me a little taste/reminder of what my college years were like – late nights, binge drinking and The Griddle Cafe.
The Griddle Cafe is a popular hangout in West Hollywood that often has a line out the door and around the block – Monday at 11am provided us with a 20 minute wait. As my stomach turned with thoughts of the previous two night’s escapades my taste buds surprisingly started salivating at the smell of pancakes wafting through the open front door. I would have waited any amount of time to get a taste of what was creating that smell – and I did. 45 minutes later we were sitting down getting our first cup of freshly pressed coffee.
One of my finest memories of The Griddle Cafe in college was the greasy spoon “Chili My Soul” that they served up daily. Chili My Soul is not an authentic Griddle dish as they import around 10 different chilis per day from Encino. These chilis range from vegetarian to full on carnivore with a scale of spice that ranges from 1 to 10. Chef Randy Hoffman, owner of Chili My Soul, was often seen at The Griddle Cafe hob-nobbing with the patrons and trying to convince them to take on the Demon – his spiciest chili made with 6 of the World’s hottest peppers. I was distraught, to say the least, when I found out that in the past 8 years Chef Hoffman had passed away and in tribute to his life The Griddle Cafe was no longer selling chili – of any kind. Rest in peace Chef Hoffman – your contributions to our palate will be greatly missed.
The Griddle Cafe did not skip a beat though and my mind started racing around the menu driven by my stomach’s desire to get something into it. As I reviewed some of the classic pancakes like The Teacher’s Pet, three buttermilk pancakes with cinnamon apples baked in, or the Yellow Brick Road, butterscotch with walnuts and carmel, I decided to try something new – three lemon raspberry stuffed pancakes. Examine the picture closely as words can not describe how delicious the experience was. My friends and I also shared an egg dish called Chicago Charlie’s Scramble – delicious as well. The Griddle Cafe definitely gives you bang for your buck. All three of us ate off two dishes and could not get even close to finishing them.
As I stumbled out of the restaurant, stuffed to the brim, I realized how much I appreciated The Griddle Cafe staying strong and providing me access to a time machine every time I visit my alma mater. If you are ever in West Hollywood stop by and give it a try – 7916 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90046 – you won’t regret it! Now all I need to do is figure out how to stock plates big enough to serve these pancakes on le truc!