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if you had to eat at the Original Pantry what would you eat?

It's looking like circxumstances may conspire to put me in the Original Pantry tomorrow morning (I'm staying a block away, I have to be somewhere without breakfast options (by USC) at 9 without a car etc. So if you were pushed like that into eating at the Pantry, what's decent? I know from experience it's not a great place, but what's tolerable? Thanks.

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  1. I like the Pantry. It's a greasy spoon and if you enjoy it at that level you'll be fine.

    I'd suggest the following:

    -Sourdough toast with coleslaw
    -Hasbrowns done well (nice and crispy)

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      A rare disagree with you ipse, but... I disagree with you on this. For me, The Pantry exemplifies the word "ick".

      1. re: ipsedixit

        You nailed it - the home fries are good too. Taters and slaw.

        The meat? Last few times I tried it - was worse than any meat I've ever had in my entire life!

        1. Ham & cheese omelette. My favorite version of this breakfast classic, in fact.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jack Flash

            Agree...Combination omelette (ham & cheese) cooked easy, well done hash browns, grilled sourdough toast and salsa.

            1. re: monku

              The Pantry really cook a great egg scrambled easy. I don't know how many times I've had it overcooked at other places. Went two weeks ago for breakfast and got 6 perfectly cooked slices of bacon with my order.

          2. I choose to eat there! I like it a lot. Though I like a lot of their food, breakfast is definitely their strongest meal. I love any form of their eggs and usually just get 2 eggs with bacon and hash browns and toast. Be sure to get some of the salsa, which is usually made fresh by a fellow who works the counter. It is some of the best salsa in town.

            1. I haven't been for years but when I used to stop there, early before daybreak, I'd get the steak and fried potatos with sourdough toast and lousy coffee . Pretty darned tasty at that early hour and cool being served by aging, grumpy ex-cons!

              Original Pantry Cafe
              877 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90017

              2 Replies
              1. re: sel

                I'd heard tha "ex-con" thing years ago when I first started going and wondered if it was true?

                1. re: monku

                  Don't really know but I believed it at the time! Maybe it was well sort of a predecessor to Homeboy Ind.

                1. re: Robert Thornton

                  If they still serve them the buckwheat cakses used to be outstanding. with ham on the side. Please excuse me but even though it was breakfast I would always have a side of coleslaw

                2. It's been a very long time, but a few slices of their loaf of bread.

                  1. Breakfast is always good. Salads are kinda rough. Get a steak, have them toast the bread with it and you're gonna leave happy. I sometimes go in and just get eh set-up (bread, butter, coleslaw and veggies).
                    The coffee's okay, it never closes, it's a connection to a time when guys wore hats and women wore gloves...

                    and now, a little rant. If the food were abysmal or below average, I could understand the whole 'ick' response. The truth is, the food's okay- but it's more than a steak or a sandwich. It's part of L.A.'s history. This city often seems intent on wiping out its past- and then, when something's gone, everybody says 'aw, I liked that old place!' A lot of fathers took their sons there, who in turn took their sons there and so on.
                    Two more sentences and I'll quit, okay?
                    We don't need another Starbucks; we need places where we can go and sit and smile. Then, when you say 'this is like the old days', I can respond 'these ARE the old days'.

                    13 Replies
                      1. re: flowerofhighrank

                        Not a bad rant. Can I get a side of grease and some coffee with that?

                        1. re: flowerofhighrank

                          I really tried to like this place - each of my 3 visits were below average, and not 'okay'.

                          Therefore, I think that the food there IS abysmal.

                          1. re: J.L.

                            Out of curiosity what did you eat there?
                            I agree the steaks are cheap and tough and some of the daily specials are like something from your old school cafeteria. I basically go for their breakfasts and some of their daily specials are good.

                          2. re: flowerofhighrank

                            The food is too often awful with a few spots that are okay-ish (bread good, but there's better, slaw - too one note sweet but still satsifying).

                            It's changed. Riordan owns it now. Did they actually drop their already low-ish standards on meat to a grade below what they used to serve? Tastes that way to me.

                            Why not buy this place and turn it in a great, funky, reasonably priced steak joint? Sell better meat, it's that simple. Listen, I go to Pavillions/Vons and buy their "Rancher's Reserve" New York steak "value paks" (or something like that). Great meat? No. But way, way, way superior to the meat served at The Pantry. And it costs about 4 bucks a steak at the most. Pantry can cook that with potatoes, slaw for 7 bucks and charge 20 - and then the place would be decent. But it could be better than that.

                            Shame on Riordan. Really.

                            1. re: foodiemahoodie

                              Riordan bought The Original Pantry in 1981...28 years ago!

                              1. re: BeenThereAteThat

                                That sounds about the time I swore off going there for steaks.

                                1. re: BeenThereAteThat

                                  It seemed to have changed (as it going from mediocre beef to downright poor and livery-tasting) around 5 years ago.

                                2. re: foodiemahoodie

                                  Turn the Pantry into a "funky" steak joint? No thanks.

                                  I like my Pantry with it's chewy steaks and good hash browns. It's been this way for years and shouldn't change.

                                  1. re: annapurna7

                                    I'm with you here. It would be like turning Clifton's into a hipster spot. There are enough new fancy and pricey joints opening downtown already, no need to change the old spots!

                                    1. re: annapurna7

                                      You're confusing funky with, say, the Funkadelics. It's already funky. Just improve the quality. And you could keep the prices the same.

                                      1. re: annapurna7

                                        right. If you need a good steak, PDC or your own house. I can make a better salad at Souplantation or ?.
                                        But this is history in a town that let history slide for a long time. If you love L.A., you might wanna consider, once or twice a year, taking friends for breakfast at 4 A.M.? Dropping by for pie after a game?
                                        You'd do it for Phillippe's...

                                        1. re: flowerofhighrank

                                          The Pantry isn't a charity.
                                          They've been an insitution for traditional American cuisine for 85 years.
                                          Any complainer on this thread would give their right arm to do the kind of busines The Pantry does.
                                          No need to pitty them.

                                  2. I've never had bad roast beef there, but I also am getting the authentic experience that I'm craving.

                                    Hey, for some reason the Chowhound link machine doesn't recognize The Pantry or The Original Pantry. What's up with that?

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: BeenThereAteThat

                                      Get rid of that extraneous "the" and you'll find it.

                                      Original Pantry Cafe
                                      877 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90017

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        "the," isn't extraneous.....name of the restaurant is "The Original Pantry Cafe".

                                        1. re: monku

                                          Extraneous to the links (sausage making?) machine... ;-D>

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            I haven't checked, but if you tried to link to "The Hat" (slicer pastrami joints) would you look under "Hat"?

                                            1. re: monku

                                              Yes, you find The Hat under "The Hat".

                                              Thanks, Monku for sticking up for me when under pedantic attack from Servorg.

                                              Oh, and I love The Hat!

                                              The Hat
                                              491 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

                                      2. re: BeenThereAteThat

                                        The rib roast for $13.50 is a big hunk of meat and pretty good. It's an everyday lunch special so when it runs out that's it for the day.

                                      3. The mac-n-cheese served on Wednesdays and Fridays. Definitely one of my top 3 places to get mac-n-cheese.

                                        Also, the buckwheat pancakes and the hashbrowns (well done) with a side of their meaty bacon.

                                        1. Basic breakfasts are big and good. I like the roast chicken and the short ribs are ok too.

                                          1. Here's my take on "tolerable" as the question was originally posed. I have only ever eaten breakfast at The Pantry. I like to get a combo breakfast that's got eggs, potatoes, toast and coffee (and maybe some bacon as well). It's pretty cheap. I can get a similar breakfast by description at say Pie N Burger. It costs about twice as much, maybe more. But the difference is with the Pie N Burger food I don't feel it two hours later. That's why I tolerate The Pantry only a couple of times a year.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: mc michael

                                              What do you think makes you "feel it two hours later"? The eggs? Potatoes? Toast? Coffee?

                                              1. re: BeenThereAteThat

                                                Duh grease in/on everything but the coffee. And I really like the potatoes and the sourdough toast.

                                            2. For breakfast, the ham and cheese omelet with hash browns and sourdough toast is what I enjoy. I also like their swiss steak and chicken fried steak especially with lots of cole slaw!

                                              1. Just a simple fried or poached egg with their potatoes done EXTRA crispy... a bottle of hot sauce I am a happy camper...


                                                1. I remember stopping in for breakfast before the long drive back to San Francisco. Those were the best breakfast lamb chops I've ever had.