Crepes Compete

A spin through the city's best creperies

Crepes are deceptively simple to make. They're basically an eggy, thin pancake, and it probably only takes about 10-20 tries to get pretty good at the technique of spinning, flipping and folding (traditional buckwheat crepes are a more difficult beast, but that's for an advanced class).

I first tried my hand at crepisserie in my home kitchen at age 12, which is around the same time I started faking a French accent full-time and making up Frenchy-sounding words like crepisserie. That first attempt was a dreadful flop, but I learned how to make crepes in earnest last summer at the Plaza-facing creperie Cafe Atalaya(66 E San Francisco St. Ste. 11, 990-8058), which opened in 2018. Crepe griddles along the big front window attract passing tourists, who love to gawk at the fluid spinning motion and the finesse of spreading Nutella on warm crepes (bread and circus, all in one!).

The simplicity of the pastry lends itself to being elevated in countless ways, of which Cafe Atalaya, where I haven't worked in some time, has some commendable efforts: a turkey club crepe ($10.95) is hugely popular, along with a sweet cajeta ($8.95) made with goat's milk caramel.

But there's been a recent proliferation of cafes offering crepes within the past year. I set out to try crepes from four different places in town, two downtown and two further south, and the results… were varied.

Let's start with the least successful of them all. For all their delicious breakfast sandwiches, bagels and inventive pastries (pan du carne adovada, anyone?), the turkey-spinach-bechamel crepe ($8.95) I was served at Boultawn's Bakery and Cafe (105 E Marcy St., 983-9006) was not quite a crepe, but a pancake. The ingredients were disparate and not a cohesive whole, and the bechamel lacked flavor on the tongue (but presented the nose with an odd…fishy smell?). I passed most of it on to a coworker, but I'll definitely be back for a croissant.

My next favorite crepe I tried would be the ratatouille crepe from the French Pastry Shop and Creperie(100 E San Francisco St., 983-6697). Located in La Fonda on the Plaza, the eatery mainly caters to tourists, which I suppose explains the steep price of the simple crepes. I was really into the flavor of the ratatouille filling, but the crepe itself was soggy, even in the areas that weren't touching the filling. It wasn't a bad dish by any means, but for its claims of authenticity and a price tag of $13, I was left a little underwhelmed.

The folks making crepes further away from the downtown tourism core were the ones that impressed me most. Craving a classic, I stopped for a Nutella banana ($7.25) crepe at Sagche's Coffee House (730 St. Michaels Dr., 780-5263), which I feel should actually call itself Sagche's Power House for all the great stuff it whips up besides coffee. Brothers Erwin and Walfre Sagche offer a variety of sweet and savory crepes, like bacon or chorizo ($7.95), peach ($6.50) or mixed fruit ($7.95). Mine was served quickly and cooked almost perfectly, with a lovely golden brown on one side. If I had to offer one hesitant and totally unnecessary criticism, it'd be that bites of crepe alone without filling were a bit rubbery rather than spongey—perhaps from a tad too much egg? This won't prevent me from ordering a crepe again in the future, but it does earn Sagche's a hard-won second place in our competition.

The most impressive menu out of the bunch is definitely at Crepas-Oh!(1382 Vegas Verdes, 257-8775), a delightful little hole-in-the-wall behind the Olive Garden. Everyone, do yourselves a favor—visit this delightful cafe. I was lucky enough to have the dining room to myself at 9 am, and received prompt and friendly service. The crepe offerings are inventive, with a Cubano ($12) loaded with pork, ham, cheese, mustard, mayo, avocado and chipotle sauce,and a "build your own" option catching my eye on the savory side.

I settled on a chocolate crepe with mixed berries ($8.50) on the sweet side, although it was a major toss up between that and the Crepe-lime Pie, with lime custard and graham cracker crumbs, and the peaches and cream and… it's a big menu, ok? The crepe was served beautifully, with slightly crispy edges and just enough filling to taste but not enough to overwhelm or dampen the crepe. Three bites in, I was already texting my friends—"Y'all wanna go out for crepes tomorrow morning?"

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