1. Kefir Waffle
Nostalgic for the egg-puff waffles she grew up eating in Hong Kong, deKEFIR co-owner Valerie Choy now makes her own version. But instead of the classic buttermilk, she uses kefir—a fermented milk product that tastes similar to yogurt—to yield a slightly tart, fluffier waffle that comes topped with whatever fruit is in season (right now, it’s guava, papaya, and mango). Health nuts praise kefir for being loaded with probiotics, which means it’s also totally cool to put a scoop of Nutella and sugary cereal bits on top. Hey, it’s all about making smart choices.
$3.30 (toppings $0.50 extra). deKEFIR, 333 Bay St., 647-352-2220.
2. Brussels waffles with strawberries
Sometimes, you just want a plain waffle without all the bells and bacon. In chef Johan Maes’s home country of Belgium, Brussels-style waffles (square, light, and crispy) are eaten as an afternoon snack rather than at breakfast. Since the batter itself doesn’t contain sugar, the waffle is commonly topped with ice cream, chocolate sauce, or, as in this case, a mound of strawberries and Chantilly cream. Maes also uses the square-shaped waffle maker he brought over from Belgium: Its larger surface area helps spread out the batter, resulting in that characteristic waffle crispiness.
$11. Le Petit Dejeuner, 191 King St. E., 416-703-1560.
3. Monte Cristo sandwich
Starving Artist definitely has a theme: Only here can you get your appetizer (bacon), main (sandwiches), and dessert (fruit and chocolate) all in waffle form. Owner Bryan Jackson came up with this Monte Cristo waffle as a nod to a globe-hopping friend obsessed with the sandwich; it arrives with the roasted ham and gooey mozzarella pressed between two cinnamon French toast waffles. It stacks the very best savoury and sweet sides of breakfast all in one messy bite. Order with a side of (non-waffle-ized) potato salad.
$11. Starving Artist, 582 Lansdowne Ave., 647-342-5058.
4. Waffles and sweetbreads
It would be something of a disappointment if the offal-obsessed Hoof Café (now operating out of seafood restaurant Raw Bar) went the traditional fried-chicken-and-waffles route, so chef Amancio dos Santos swaps in veal sweetbreads. Underneath the crispy, buttermilk-battered coating, these sweetbreads have a silky texture with an almost bittersweet flavour that matches nicely with the airy buttermilk-scallion waffle. Pats of jalapeno-lime butter and a swirl of maple-Sriracha syrup provide spice and acid, as well as a glossy sheen of zesty, buttery goodness.
$16. Hoof Café, 926 Dundas St. W., 647-346-9356.
5. Fried chicken and waffles
Stockyards owner Thomas Davie’s buttermilk fried chicken, spiced with paprika and cayenne, is already one of the best in the city, but it’s magically made even better when drizzled with a tangy chili-maple-molasses-citrus glaze. The syrup, reminiscent of a lighter, fancier plum sauce, adds a delicate sweetness, rather than drowning the chicken and accompanying waffle under a sugary gloop. None of that syrup goes to waste, either: The big Belgian waffle collects it in its deep pockets, transforming into a glistening, orange-scented honeycomb.
$12 for two pieces of chicken, $14 for four. The Stockyards, 699 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-658-9666.