Sweet or savory, doused in maple syrup, smothered in gravy or topped with fried chicken, waffles – those fluffy, crispy breakfast foods – deserve recognition for their impressive versatility. With our picks for the best in the country, get ready to channel your inner Leslie Knope, all the way from Hawaii to Maine.

Johnny D’s Waffles and Bakery in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Cooking is a family affair for Jamie Saunders, who grew up helping out at her dad’s New York restaurants. After relocating to Myrtle Beach in 2014, the Culinary Institute of America grad struck out on her own, launching a breakfast and lunch nook that shines a spotlight on her baking background. The chef’s pastry expertise is the reason Johnny D’s red velvet waffles rise above the rest: Not content with simply adding some red food coloring and cocoa powder, Saunders captures the essence of the iconic cake by giving the waffles a cake-like consistency. She combines classic waffle mix with elements of her chocolate and white cakes to form a batter that’s already rich on its own, but even more decadent with a finishing drizzle of cream cheese icing.

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