When I was younger I loved pancakes. Excuse me, I loved MAPLE SYRUP. Pancakes were a way to get as much maple syrup on my plate, my hands, and my face. Eventually my mother realized I was leaving the pancakes half-eaten and we’d run out of syrup in two weeks instead of a month. It’s not that my mother’s pancakes were bad, it was that I didn’t know what a pancake tasted like that wasn’t drenched in dark, sweet, syrup.
Years later I had breakfast at a cafe in Chattanooga and my life changed. My uncle brought us to Martha Johnson’s for brunch and he made me eat a bite of pancakes without syrup. “These are the best pancakes you’ll ever have. Don’t you dare drown them in syrup!” He was right. The pancakes were crusty on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and sweet enough that just a hint of butter and they were perfect.
I still go back to Martha’s when I visit my uncle to have pancakes and remind me how good the simple things can be. Martha’s is in a tiny building behind a strip mall and you wouldn’t know it was there if you looked too quickly. The walls and ceilings are covered with gothic and punk rock themes. The people employed seem to fit in with the decorum. The wait to get in can be long, especially in the morning (as they serve breakfast food all day long).
Go late on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll have no trouble getting in (weekend mornings you’ll have to wait!) The pancakes are their specialty but the waffles are great too. They have great local craft beer and cider on tap, and a pint of cider with pancakes is even better than it sounds! My uncle swears by the hash and biscuits, I don’t think I’ve seen him order anything else!
They don’t have a lot of parking, so be prepared to walk a few blocks but it’ll be worth it!