Holy sweet tooth heaven! That’s not Hot Cakes’ tagline, but we think it should be. When the urge hits to skip dinner and go directly to dessert, this Ballard cutie is our first stop. Autumn Martin has serious dessert-making chops—she was pastry chef at Canlis before leading the chocolatier team at Theo in Fremont—and her baked-to-order treats are just plain wonderful. Her molten-middle cakes (the “hot cakes” for which the shop is named) come in five varieties, but our favorite is smoked chocolate. Those house-smoked Theo chocolate chips also show up in the clever, remarkably delicious s’mores ($7.50). There are boozey milkshakes (such as caramel, espresso and rye with Bluebird vanilla ice cream, $10 each), a sensational grilled chocolate sandwich ($6.50; with salted caramel sauce for dipping, natch) and an oatmeal-raisin cookie with crisp bacon (and it works!), all made with the help of pastry chef Lucy Damkoehler, formerly of Mistral Kitchen.
On weekend mornings, Hot Cakes opens early, doling out sweets, asparagus and goat cheese pocket pies, and freshly baked quiche. The space is snug and cozy; much of the furniture was built from reclaimed Oregon barn wood, and an exposed brick wall and chalkboard menu add to the nostalgic appeal. You’ll probably want to move right in. You’ve been meaning to break in your Thanksgiving fat pants early, right?
You should know: Open daily until 10 p.m., later on weekends; cocktails, too! (smoked old fashioned, anyone?); good for first dates; family friendly; event catering available. Get directions.