Waiting for a table at Slappy Cakes is like spending half an hour in a Betty Crocker-themed nightmare. A slew of ravenous customers squirms in the cheerfully decorated entryway, drooling in a thick haze of pancake aroma that wafts from nearby booths, where diners sit and chortle over heaping plates of breakfast splendor—and you can't eat any of it yet. If you come hungry, come alone—this is the kind of sensory torture that causes loved ones to turn on each other.

But if you make it to your table before devouring your dining companions out of desperation, the pure pancake joy is worth the wait. Slappy Cakes, the coyly named breakfast-and-lunch joint whose claim to fame is pancake griddles built right into its dining tables, opened Oct. 28 in the historic Belmont Garage. Tangerine-colored ceiling lamps, stretches of fuchsia wall paint and photographs of sharply dressed models holding classic cocktails channel the '70s. The menu matches the decor in vibrance and creativity, offering playful renditions of gourmet standards like the Slappy Benedict ($10) and a brie-and-sliced-pear grilled cheese ($7, with fries).

The pancake batter ($5, about enough for three people), available in buttermilk, pumpkin, vegan whole-grain and gluten-free, can be squirted from squeezable plastic condiment bottles into shapes as clever or dirty as you desire. Thirteen add-ins are $1 each, and range from staples like bananas and blueberries to exotic red wine-tarragon applesauce. We tried the buttermilk and pumpkin batters with chocolate chips, blueberries and crispy bacon. After experimenting with shapes—a morbidly disfigured self-portrait, the obligatory penis—we explored flavor combinations. A chocolate-bacon-buttermilk creation tasted brilliantly taboo, and a juicy pumpkin-blueberry pancake with maple syrup was comforting and warm, with a touch of spice from the batter.

The prepared dishes are solid, as well; our huevos rancheros ($8.75) with added chorizo ($1.25) was a savory, gloppy mass of Latino sizzle. Slappy Cakes has all the ingredients for success—it serves breakfast and drinks all day, the staff is laid back and amicable, and it even has a daily Slappy Hour from 2-5 pm. Once it works out the kinks and perhaps extends its hours to accommodate a more patient (read: late-night drunk) crowd, Slappy Cakes could be well on the way to earning its place among Portland's breakfast elite.

  • Order this: Pumpkin batter ($5) with chocolate chips ($1) is melty madness.
  • Best deal: The Slappy Joe, ground beef and barbecue sauce tucked into a brioche bun ($4 during Slappy Hour).
  • I’ll pass: The Whiskey for Breakfast cocktail, with its blend of whiskey, lemon juice, maple syrup and egg whites ($7).

Slappy Cakes, 4246 SE Belmont St., 477-4805, slappycakes.com. Open 8 am-5 pm daily. $ Inexpensive.