The United States tends to come up with some odd unofficial holidays — take, for example, National Walk Around Things Day, Lumpy Rug Day or Do a Grouch a Favor Day.
On the other hand, we’ve also come up with some great ones — including National Waffle Day.
It falls on Saturday this year, and we’re focusing on it for two reasons: First, the holiday has Capital Region roots; and secondly, the area has plenty of fluffy and decadent waffle options to try.
Historians have traced the waffle’s history all the way back to ancient Greece, though the Dutch are often credited with bringing the culinary treat to America.
Here’s where the local connection comes in. Cornelius Swartwout of Troy patented the first waffle iron on Aug. 24, 1869, (hence the holiday). According to the National Museum of American History, Swartwout (or Swarthout, depending on who you talk to) wanted to make an improvement in the waffle irons available on the market. His creation looked similar to modern-day designs, with the one major difference being that his didn’t use electricity.
Since then, waffles have maintained their popularity on both brunch and dinner menus, beloved by many, especially by writers such as John Green, who has described them as “just awesome bread”; and characters like Leslie Knope of the NBC series “Parks and Rec,” who said, “We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.”
We explored some of the Capital Region’s breakfast spots, finding the most delectable waffles on their menus. From spicy and savory to sweet and syrupy, there are a lot of options to waffle over.
Iron Roost, Ballston Spa
For more than seven years, customers from throughout the Capital Region have headed to this Front Street eatery for all things waffles. Owned by Linnaea DiNallo, the cozy restaurant gets packed on the weekends, but the length of the line directly correlates to the quality of the food.
Ninety-six percent of everything that come out of the kitchen is made from scratch, accroding to Erin Rourke, the restaurant’s marketing manager.
From the buttermilk batter to the vegan chocolate mousse, chef Frank Daluisio does it all.
Top-sellers across the board are the sweet lemon berry and the savory southwest fiesta waffles. However, there are a few runner-ups that Rourke and DiNallo say deserve a bit of attention, such as the vegan sweet hazel, with an avocado cocoa mousse topped with hazelnuts.
It’s on the sweeter side, but it’s not overwhelmingly sugary. Another favorite is the classic egg sandwich, done the Iron Roost way with eggs, bacon and cheese nestled between two savory waffles.
In celebration of National Waffle Day, they’ll be serving waffles and selling their waffle mix. They started packaging it about a year and a half ago, and they’ll also have a special on their gluten-free and buttermilk mixes.
Send Me Waffles, Clifton Park
True to its name, this company, run by a Niskayuna couple, will send waffles right to your door.
But they’re not exactly the waffles you might be used to.
Ilene Friedman and Keegan Bailey started the company in May, a few years after discovering Belgian Liège waffles.
“We’d never had anything like it before and my husband became obsessed with trying to reproduce it. It’s a dough-based yeast batter, almost like a brioche instead of a batter-based,” Friedman said.
The dough has to go through three different rising processes before it’s ready to hit the waffle iron. Then, Friedman will package each waffle individually and send them out.
“So far we’ve shipped to 27 different states,” Friedman said.
It usually takes between one and three days for the waffles to arrive at their destination. People can order plain waffles called the Send Me Sugar waffles, or their stuffed waffles with Gatherer’s Granola Chipmunk’s Choice Granola inside.
In celebration of National Waffle Day,Send Me Waffles will be serving up a beer-grain waffle at Frog Alley Brewing from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday.
Made with flour produced from grain waste created in beer production, the beer-grain waffle is higher in fiber and has a hearty flavor.
For more info on the waffles, visit sendmewaffles.com.
Sweet Mimi’s Cafe, Saratoga Springs
Tucked into a corner of Phila Street, Sweet Mimi’s has been serving savory and decadent waffles for years. Owned by Jeannette Liebers, the cafe uses fresh buttermilk from King’s Dairy and makes them in small batches so that no matter what time of day a customer orders them, they’ll always be fresh.
According to Liebers, some people just order the plain buttermilk waffles with eggs and other breakfast staples on the side.
The more adventurous order Mimi’s specialties such as the s’mores waffle with homemade caramelized marshmallow sauce, graham cracker crumbs and chocolate drizzle. Or there are the pink berry waffles, with fresh raspberries and pink berry gelato from Saratoga Gelato.
Those looking for something more savory go with the cornmeal cheddar and scallion waffle, featuring brown-sugar bacon and finished with poached eggs.
Peaches Cafe, Albany
At Peaches Cafe, breakfast is served all day and well into the evening.
Over the years, Kevin Richard, co-owner of the Stuyvesant Plaza cafe, has seen many customers coming in specifically to order waffles, especially the cafe’s strawberries-and-cream waffles.
The recipe is probably their top-seller, with whipped cream and a strawberry compote. Another hit is the namesake peaches-and-cream waffle, with fresh, warm peaches and whipped cream on top.
If sweet isn’t your thing, Peaches offers a breakfast waffle stuffed with chopped bacon inside and two eggs on top.
Going on 106 years, Manory’s has a rich history in the Capital Region. The Congress Street eatery also carries on the Collar city’s tradition of knowing a thing or two about waffles.
Whether you opt for the over-the-top super sundae waffles — with ice cream and chocolate drizzle — or the simple Bavarian with strawberries and whipped cream, there’s no wrong choice.
The peanut butter and jelly is another excellent option, as is the plain Belgian.