If you haven’t had a crêpe yet, I don’t know if we can be friends anymore… just kidding (that means more crêpes for me).
But in all seriousness, crêpes are a staple of French street food. So unless you’ve got some boiling hatred for all things delicious (in which case, what are you doing reading this blog!?), it’s time you got well acquainted with your local crêpe shop.
But first, a bit of background:
What is a Crêpe? (KREHP)
Some people call them “French pancakes” but that’s a really unjust analogy. I think they’re more like ultra-thin tortillas made from a wheat or buckwheat base.
You can “fill” crêpes by topping them with either sweet or savory treats and then folding up the sides to make a triangle shape. This makes them really easy to hold in your hand with the pointy end pointing downward.
Crêpe making is actually quite challenging if you don’t have the right tools. You have to evenly spread a very thin coat of delicate batter on a piping hot frying surface — and once you’ve mastered that, you have to figure out how to flip the thing!
It’s really an art, and we’re not even adding fillings yet!
In Paris, ham and cheese (with or without egg) reigned supreme on the savory side while nutella and banana dominated the sweet. Of course, a simple butter and/or sugar crêpe will also do the trick. Some will even feature Grand Marnier or other liquers.
How to Order the Best Crêpes
A few little tips
1. Don’t order the first Crêpe of the day.
Like pancakes, the second or third one is usually better as it takes the hot plates a while to get in the groove. If you’re unsure, just hop in line directly after a few others.
2. If you want buckwheat base, you’ll order a galette (gal-ET)
These are more traditionally served with the savory ingredients, but I wont judge if you order a galette with nutella (okay, I might judge a little… But that’s French, n’est-ce pas?)
3. Bubbles and small holes on the surface of the flour mixture are a good sign, not bad
Lumps in the batter, however, are not good… Just watch how Julia does it in the beginning of this clip:
Where To Find A Good Crêpe in Denver
Situated on the 16th Street Mall, the crêpes at Crêpes n Crêpes are very high quality, but can cost you $8 – 15 a piece on the regular menu.
I recommend going for the Lunch special Monday – Friday, which includes a “smaller” crêpe and a salad or soup for $10.
If you’re hankering for a crêpe in the evening, try stopping by before 6pm for the crêpe Happy Hour. It’s only $5 for any “smaller” savory or sweet crêpe on the menu and you can also score a $2 European draft beer (Kronenbourg 1664, which I’d yet to find in the States until now).
The chef here is an awesome French-speaking Congolese who told me he got his crêpe making start while living in Belgium. Whether you’re stopping by for great street crêpes or to practice your French, you’re sure to enjoy yourself.
Brasserie Ten Ten is included in this mix (despite their Boulder address) because they have some great brunch crêpes with classic ingredients but an un-classic format. The addition of hollandaise and balsamic makes these guys really interesting in taste while their smaller size makes them interesting on the plate, too.
Definitely give these guys a try if you want to try something a little more “out there.”
Bistro Vendôme (one of my favorite French bistros in Denver) also offers a crêpe on its appetizer list – it’s also a little a-traditional, featuring a hearty chicken filling. Many consider this appetizer to be as substantial as a meal, which is a great value for Vendôme at only $7.50.
Lots of Asian cultures have picked up the crêpe recently and Boba and Crêpes is a prime example of that fusion with crêpes that feature asian flavors like grean tea ice cream or japanese mayonnaise. Boba is a tapioca ball-laden drink that is not traditionally French or paired with crêpes, so it’s kind of a fun approach to crêpes if you’re hankering for a departure from your usual French vibe.
So they aren’t always in Denver, but to me, this is the ultimate way to eat crêpes — it’s literally off the street, just like the French do it! The Crêpe Crusaders truck has got a very diverse menu and you can be certain that when they heat up their hot plates, the lines start to form.
With crêpe names like Mr. Giraffe or Omega 13, this is definitely one of the most playful crêpe offerings in town.
These are just some of my favorites, but Denver has many crêperies to offer; there’s a crêpe stand on 16th Street Mall now, a crêpe vendor at the Flat Irons Mall food court, and even a crêpe stand at Golden Farmer’s market.
So there’s no excuse! The next time you see a crêpe stand, hop in line, order something classic or wild, and then let me know what you think!