Potato Pancakes Found Beyond the Jewish Delis

As a kid, latkas, or potato pancakes, were something that I looked forward to every Hannukkah. What was not to love about the shallow-fried pancakes made from grated or ground potato with matzah meal or flour, egg, onion and seasoning? My grandma would make them for the holidays and I thought she made the best ones.

When we weren’t eating latkas during the Jewish holidays, I would order them whenever we went to a Jewish deli because I just loved potato pancakes with sour cream or applesauce. They were not my grandma’s but they would still satisfy me.

Now you no longer need to head to a Jewish deli to have potato pancakes because restaurants have integrated them into their menus for brunch, lunch and dinner. I recently visited three restaurants in Los Angeles that are very distinct. One is a neighborhood restaurant with a diverse menu, another is a wine bar and restaurant featuring Italian tapas and the third is a steak house. It would seem that none of these restaurants have anything in common but in fact, they all have a potato pancake on their menu. Each has put their own spin on the traditional potato pancake and made it work with their menu.

The Henry WeHo

The Henry WeHo is a modern neighborhood spot. Located on Robertson Blvd in West Hollywood The Henry is a large open space that welcomes guests daily for lunch, dinner, coffee, cocktails, or brunch on the weekends. At The Henry, they are serving up Smoked Norwegian Salmon ($15) as an appetizer on the lunch and dinner menus, and yet, ironically, it is not available on the brunch menu where you would expect to see it.

The smoked salmon is served on top of a crisp potato pancake (or, as they describe it, a hash brown) with crème fraîche and arugula. The potato is shredded into long sticks and is definitely crispy and can hold up the toppings, making this a dish to eat with your hands.

Bacari W. 3rd

Bacari W. 3rd is the 4th location of the Bacari Wine Bars and Cicchetti (Italian small snacks or side dishes). Located in the space that was formerly Sofi, one of LA’s oldest Greek restaurants, Bacari W 3rd still has the beautiful outdoor dining patio. Like its other locations, Bacari has an Italian-inspired menu. However, one dish that can only be found at Sunday brunch at this particular location is the shareable Dalia’s Homemade Latkas ($10). 

Inspired by his Israeli background, Chef Lior Hillel is serving up traditional latkas. Each latka is the size of the bread plate. The potato is ground and mixed with onion and seasoning. It is crunchy on the outside but the flavorful mashed potato is not drowned by the crispiness. The latkas are served with a modern twist on the classic sides. The applesauce has been replaced with salted caramel apple butter and the sour cream is replaced by dill crème fraîche. There is also watermelon radish, pomegranate seed, fig, and apricot. 

Ocean Prime Beverly Hills

Ocean Prime in Beverly Hills is a modern-American steak house. Even at a steak house, they have found a way to incorporate a potato pancake with the Surf-n-Turf ($74), available at dinner. An 8-ounce filet and a butter poached lobster tail are served on top of a gouda potato cake and served with chili seared spinach, Cabernet truffle reduction and Béarnaise.

The gouda potato cake is more like a croquette. It is crispy on the outside and rich with a cheesy mashed potatoes on the inside. And, if you don’t want the steak and lobster, the gouda potato cakes are turned into tater tots and offered as a side dish.

Potato pancakes are not just for Jewish holidays or at Jewish delis. Potato pancakes are a canvas for creativity. Whether Italian-inspired or classic American, restaurants are finding ways to incorporate potato pancakes into their menus.