I really wanted pancakes from Chip's for breakfast on Mother's Day, but I figured the line would be out the door, and I wasn't willing to sacrifice valuable sleeping time.
A friend of mine woke up early enough to avoid the real crunch time. (Clearly, we have different priorities.) While she was enjoying her strawberry pancakes (and the complimentary rose from the staff), the line started to pile up in the doorway and the crowds kept coming until afternoon.
Chip's opened just over two years ago in Fairfield, capitalizing on the success of the flagship restaurant in Orange. (A new location in Trumbull is slated to open in August.) They serve a full menu -- everything from eggs and French toast (all day long) to steak and chicken at dinner.
But what they're really known for is pancakes -- more than 50 varieties. They range from sweet (like cinnamon raisin or coconut crunch) to savory (potato or bacon) and everything in between.
"We're family-owned and we believe in reaching out to the community," said Adam Bajko, co-owner of Chip's. "We try not to say no to Little League, the PTA, all those community organizations." They often donate gift cards, food and even space at the restaurant for local fundraisers. He believes Chip's connection to the community is one of the factors that helps to make the place so popular.
But there is the matter of the food. "We do serve decent portions," Bajko said. Indeed, the platter-sized plates are always overflowing with fluffy flapjacks, piles of home fries and giant omelets.
"We pride ourselves on higher-end food in a comfortable atmosphere," he said. "We've won the Best Breakfast award from The Weekly I don't know how many years in a row."
Everything is made from scratch and made-to-order at Chip's. (No frozen hockey-puck pancakes here.) "The buttermilk pancakes are always a staple," Bajko said.
However, it was a week-long special that caught the attention of a lot of customers. "We introduced a cinnabun pancake, and it's probably one of our best sellers," he said.
Speaking of specials, Fairfield manager Laura Robertson recently added something new to the menu after talking with a customer. The customer explained that Gustav Whitehead, a German immigrant who lived in both Fairfield and Bridgeport, was actually the first man to fly an airplane, two years ahead of the famed Wright Brothers' flight in 1903. To celebrate that distinction, Robertson created a special called "No. 21," named after Whitehead's airplane, which is believed to have made a flight off the top of Tunxis Hill, where Chip's is now located. It included of a three-egg omelet filled with chopped hamburger, cheddar cheese, onions and potatoes, served with German apple pancakes.
Bajko said that the nice thing about the menu at Chip's is that there's something for everyone. "Kids love the chocolate-chip and M&M pancakes," he said. If that's not decadent enough, there's always white chocolate macadamia or peanut butter-banana pancakes.
And almost all of the pancakes can be made gluten-free. "Honestly, you wouldn't even know the difference," Bajko said.
If, however, pancakes just aren't your thing, there are more than 20 different omelets to choose from or specials like the California Eggwich (eggs, avocado, baby spinach, cheddar cheese and chipotle mayonnaise on an English muffin), or a breakfast burrito that uses a potato pancake instead of a tortilla.
I finally satisfied my own Chip's craving a week after Mother's Day with a Nutella, strawberry and coconut waffle. "You can get anything here," Bajko said. "If we don't have it, we'll do our best to get it."
Patti Woods is a freelance writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
525 Tunxis Hill Cutoff
Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily