The newest spot in East Memphis’ breakfast (and lunch) scene is Staks Pancake Kitchen — and it’s definitely worth a visit. Located in the Laurelwood Collection, Staks is fast-casual — order at the counter and they’ll bring it to your table. But it’s also got a DIY twist! Read on to hear why Staks is now a member of my restaurant rotation list!
WHAT TO EXPECT
The interior at Staks is bright, fresh and modern, featuring tones of turquoise and white. As you might expect from a breakfast/brunch restaurant, there’s typically a wait on the weekends, but on the weekday I visited, there was no delay. Guests can dine in a booth, at a table or be seated at one of the griddle tables, which are fitted with specially designed griddles on which you can make your own pancakes. Order this option, and you’re brought a pitcher of batter, spatulas and some butter for greasing the griddle. You can also order specialty toppings to go along with the batter, from strawberries to toffee pieces.
When the place is crowded, there’s no guarantee you’ll be seated near a griddle, so keep that in mind when making promises to children! If you do go the DIY route, note that one pitcher of batter makes quite a few pancakes, and you can experiment with silver dollar size or bigger rounds. I visited with some young children who enjoyed the process and flipping the pancakes for a while, but quickly became more interested in eating than making.
WHAT TO EAT
As you can guess, pancakes are the house specialty. Staks offers an impressive selection, or you can order a custom stack with a wide range of toppings. From the set menu, the lemon ricotta pancakes are a personal favorite. They’re light, with a little tang from the ricotta and a nice citrus edge. The stack is smothered in a rich blueberry compote that pairs perfectly.
We also tried the cinnamon roll pancakes, which are sweet and feature a swirl of cinnamon and a rich, frosting-like glaze. Worth mention, one fellow diner found them a bit too sweet, so you’ve been warned. Another intriguing menu item is the pancake beignets, which are fried puffs of pancake batter with a little cream cheese filling and a drizzle of caramel syrup. Yum!!
If you’re pining for something less pancake-y, the Staks menu has plenty of other items. The chicken ‘n biscuit is a crispy, fried chicken tender on a buttermilk biscuit drizzled with Sriracha honey. The spicy honey glaze is a nice touch, but if you like spice, I recommend asking for an extra drizzle. Since this one’s so good, I’d love to see a few more biscuit-sandwich options on the menu!
The shrimp and grits dish features broiled shrimp over Gouda grits topped with two poached eggs. It’s a simple and comforting dish that is a perfect savory breakfast meal. Meats are locally sourced, including a well-seasoned chicken sausage from Winchester Farms. I can’t resist a side of candied Porcellino’s bacon – you can also get it plain, Parmesan- or Sriracha-jerk-coated. If eggs are up your alley, there are lots of options, from simply prepared to create-your-own omelets. To drink, choose from breakfast standards like coffee, lattes and juices, but sodas and iced tea are also available.
There’s also a short menu of soups and sandwiches, but I really think the point here is breakfast food. And while Staks is a true treat for breakfast and a fun place for brunch or lunch, I’d love to see it open for dinner, as well. It’s a great option for fun, mixed-generation family meals or when dining out with picky kids who will no doubt find something they like.
Last, but definitely not least, one really cool thing about Staks is that they don’t accept tips. Instead, they pay their employees more than other restaurants pay, and they source local ingredients, which keeps their costs down. As the Staks menu explains, “The change in the way we do business helps you, the consumer. So keep the change and we promise to do the same.”
Sounds like a win all around!
Staks Pancake Kitchen is located at 4615 Poplar Ave., Memphis. Hours are daily from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn more at (901) 509-2367 or by visiting stakspancakes.com.
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