Clinton Street Baking Company & Restaurant

photo by Nicole Franzen

When Clinton Street Baking Company & Restaurant opened down the block from Wylie Dufresne’s 71 Clinton Fresh Food in 2001, co-owners DeDe Lahman and chef Neil Kleinberg looked up to their neighbor as the senior player of Clinton Street, and they were initially happy to just be on the junior-varsity team. Thirteen years later — and eight years after Dufresne shuttered that fine-dining restaurant — this classic American joint has been on the starting line-up for some time, and customers wait hours for a taste of its simple cuisine, especially during weekend brunch. While the couple “never set out to become the king and queen of pancakes,” says Lahman, the breakfast staple is so beloved here that February is Clinton Street’s “Pancake Month,” during which a menu of specialty cakes — like German chocolate and Japanese pumpkin — changes every few days. Any time of the year, avoid the mammoth brunch lines by heading over for an early dinner. You can still eat breakfast then, or you can try one of the lesser-known savory dishes, like market fish tacos with house-made tortillas and hot sauce.