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I think that being a so-called "morning person" is a myth. While plenty of people claim to be on their A-game before the sun comes up, the social evidence I've gathered at Utah's local breakfast joints leads me to believe that this is an exercise in self-delusion. If an advanced society enjoyed being up before 8 a.m., we wouldn't have embraced pancakes, French toast, eggs benedict, Denver omelets or any of the classic breakfast dishes that grace the pages of diner menus throughout the country with such fervor. There's a reason breakfast food like the magic they serve up at The Original Pancake House (multiple locations, ophutah.com) exists—and that reason is to get people like me out of bed in the morning.
Though the original Original Pancake House was founded in Portland, Ore. back in the 1950s, it's a franchise that manages to harmonize nicely with its surroundings. My first experience with OPH was a visit to its Sugar House location (790 E. 2100 South) while attending the University of Utah. This inaugural trip, along with each subsequent visit, contained everything you'd expect from a neighborhood breakfast joint—warm manners, bustling service and the intoxicating smell of maple syrup doing the mambo with grilled bacon. I'll always maintain a profound adoration for breakfast food, but my college years were when this love affair truly blossomed; greeting the encyclopedic menu at the Original Pancake House at this particular time in my life was nothing short of serendipity.
As is true in most breakfast places with enormous menus, the biggest decision one must make during their visit is between a sweet or savory breakfast experience. Doing both is also an option, but I'd only suggest this if you haven't eaten for a full calendar day before your visit. The portions at OPH are huge, so it's best to decide what flavor adventure you'd like to kick off your day. Sweet makes sense—you don't really pop into a place called Original Pancake House and not get pancakes. If fluffy golden flapjacks are in your crosshairs, you've definitely come to the right place.
There is enough variety here to give even the most decisive diner pause, but it wasn't long after I had become a regular that I discovered my pancake life partner in the banana pancakes ($7.99). As unassuming as banana pancakes sound, these are much more than just a short stack of buttermilk pancakes topped with fruit. Bananas get griddled right into the pancakes themselves, and it's all topped with fresh whipped cream. Fresh, full-flavored banana goodness lays the foundation, but once you douse the whole affair in the tropical syrup that comes with the dish, you're in uncharted territory. It's not quite in the realm of the Hawaiian pancakes ($9.99), with their pineapple-and-coconut-infused beach party, but there's something about the way the tropical syrup plays with the banana on the taste buds that remains elusive and special.
Any of these pancakes are going to be safe bets, but if you're looking for something pancake-adjacent yet unique in its own right, you'll want to check out the Dutch Baby ($10.99). It's a German-style pancake tour-de-force that arrives looking more like a decadent souffle than a breakfast dish. Here, the carbs are combined into a golden brown, plate-covering behemoth instead of stacked neatly on top of one another. The texture is spectacular—eggy and almost cheesecake-like in the middle with crisp, caramelized edges. The hint of lemon with powdered sugar does plenty to elevate the flavors of this monstrous item, but those after more seasonal fruit will want to try the Dutch Treat ($12.99). If one or more of these delightful treats is in your future, just make sure you allocate around 30 mainutes for the kitchen to whip them up.
Those looking to stick to the savory side of the spectrum have several options to choose from, but I always find myself going back to the omelets. The California Omelette ($12.99) is filled with grilled chicken, bacon, cheddar, tomato and onions before getting topped with avocado slices and sour cream. This omelet's addition of creamy avocado to an already stellar mix of flavors and textures is consistently delicious, which is why it's what I get when I can't really decide, or don't feel like branching out. I recently tried the chile verde omelet ($12.99) which comes slathered in a fresh, herbaceous chile verde variety that OPH makes onsite. It's also stuffed with sausage and cheddar cheese, so this evokes a nice Southwestern take on the classic omelet to impressive effect.
Pancakes and omelets are the high-priority items on the OPH menu to be sure, but don't overlook their strawberry-laden Continental Crepes ($8.99) or the Bananas Foster French Toast ($9.99) which are excellent alternatives for those craving something other than the OPH specialties. Regardless of what breakfast staple strikes your fancy, you'll find something to celebrate at Original Pancake House.