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Dec 13, 2004 12:08 PM

Paulas Pancakes in Solvang

  • j

Virginia Madsen: serious chowhound???

Who knew? Anyway, I was surfing around reading reviews and interviews about the movie Sideways (which I loved...go see it!) and found this quote from Ms. Madsen that sounds like a great tip:

“If you go up to Solvang, there’s a place called Paula’s Pancake. And once you’ve been and you’ve experienced the Paulas Pancake, you will never be able to forget Paulas Pancake. And I’m haunted by this. I would have the Paulas Pancake, eggs, the sausage – country sausage - sometimes toast as well. Orange juice, coffee with lots of cream and sugar. A little snack before lunch and this went on all day long. Prime rib for dinner, lots of red wine. It was wonderful because it wasn’t about any of that.“

Anyone been there? Wish I was there right now!


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  1. Jim, I'm quite familiar with Paula's but I'm a little confused - they are not now, nor have they ever, been open for dinner.
    If Ms Madsen remembers eating prime rib there, then the restaurant was opened just for her - of this, I am 100% certain.
    Maybe she was referring to eating prime rib somewhere else - it's kind of hard to tell, reading the quote out of context.
    Anyway, everything's good at Paula's, but I recommend the Danish pancakes - they're thin like crepes, and very wide, and they come served folded over each other with raspberry jam, whipped butter, and syrup.
    Quite delicious.

    7 Replies
    1. re: JT

      The Danish pancakes sound awesome. Glad it was a good tip (in spite of the misinformation); I thought it might be. Thanks for confirming.

      There are a lot of Danes in that area, right? Any other hotspots for anything Danish? Including danish?


      1. re: Jim Leff

        It's not unthinkable that the restaurant was open at dinner time just for the Sideways crew, btw.


        1. re: Jim Leff

          I suspect Ms. Madsen had the prime rib at Mattei's Tavern, another local watering hole. Scroll down on the California page for a discussion of the Hitching Post, a not to be missed Santa Maria style steak joint in the area, which was prominently featured in "Sideways." Its definitely a do not miss place if you're in the area. After a great dinner and a few too many glasses of really nice pinot noir, like our hero in the movie you too may find yourself walking back to your hotel along chilly Highway 246, returning to pick up your car in the morning. Some of us have made that walk more often than we'd care to admit.

        2. re: Jim Leff

          Solvang is def. a unique, kitschy, enchanting little town all rolled into one. Only spent a couple of hrs. there on our drive from wine country back to Santa Barbara, but I'm sure they have some good eats there.

          I was shocked to see so many European-speaking tourists who had obviously traversed thousands of miles for the Solvang experience. Not a place to spend tons of time at IMO, but fun for a weekend getaway.

          Didn't have a chance to have a real meal there, but stopped in at a bakery (they have many) to sample some Danish pastries. The other memorable site for me was the small Hans Christian Andersen museum--it was really fascinating.

          Linked the Restaurant page from the Solvang Visitor's Bureau, which includes PP, for those who are interested. Really hope to make it back there one day...


          1. re: Jim Leff

            Right next door to Paulas Pancake House is the Olsen Village Bakery - up the street is Mortensen's. AFAIK, those are the only two bakeries that still have Danish bakers - the other places in town have Americans trained by Danes.

            I've lived in the area 20+ years, and know most of the restaurant and bakery owners personally. There really isn't too much authentic Danish food being served in restaurants anymore, but you can get some at the Solvang Restaurant, where Jack and Miles were having breakfast in the movie, or try the Bit O' Denmark, or the New Danish Inn.
            But I have to tell you, Danish food, at least what I've tasted here, well, it's just not that good. To my taste, anyway.

            1. re: Jim Leff

              mortensen's danish bakery is my favorite. i love the touch of cardamom, flaky layers of pastry, delicate icing. the almond paste confections are great too.

              some people think solvang is annoyingly kitschy, touristy, or boring. many senior citizens love it. i'm part scandinavian so it's all good fun to me.

              i also go out of my way for swedish pancakes when near kingsburg, california.

              1588 mission drive
              solvang, ca

              dala horse restaurant
              1531 draper st
              kingsburg, ca

              1. re: petradish

                Also good for Danish/Swedish style pancakes, linguica, and breakfast in general is Ellen's Pancake House in Buelleton at the intersection of Hwy 246 and Flying Flags Blvd.

          2. Been there for breakfast many times. I'm impressed by the quality of their ham steaks and Linguica. I believe that the Linguica comes from Cattaneo Brothers in San Luis Obispo. The place has ben *packed* every time I've been there.

            1. I recognize this threat is a bit old but want to add a fresh spin on Paula's Pancakes. Over the last year I've been to Paula's over 5x for breakfast and I absolutely love the place. I eat there every morning I am in the Santa Ynez area for wine tasting. Paula's attracts a big crowd but I never let that keep me from enjoying breakfast there. Once seated the service is fast and efficient. The food is always awesome with incredible pancakes, french toast and sausage. I've introduced several friends to the restaurant as well and they are now huge Paula's fans like me.

              5 Replies
              1. re: jwobkk

                Danish "pancakes" are actually the round ball abelskeviers, not the flat pancake which is more Swedish style. And believe it or not the best ones are found at IHOP under their international sweet and savory crepe selections: Swedish with lignonberry jam. Very delicious and addictive.

                Went out of my way to the Pala Horse in Kingsburg and came away a bit disappointed with the Swedish pancakes there as they skimp on the lignonberry jam which is really what makes this standard crepe into something Scandanavian special. Ask for more jam so you can at least taste it if you go there, instead of IHOP (yes, occasionally chains can be good and this one is very good for Swedish pancakes)

                Also some one from a long time Danish family culinary tradition, there is not a single abelskiever place in Solvang that does justice to the real home made thing. They all seem to make with a packaged batter, never separate and fold in eggwhites for added lift and tenderness to the finished product. And never, never, never once have I had them there with its most signature feature .....which gives them their name .... a small slice of apple in the center ...abel = apple; skiever (sp??)=cut or slice.

                Danish food can be quite good ...... in Denmark, but not in Solvang. You get gimmick food and tastelss pastries and cookies there. I think they really cut back on the butter which is essential as well as slow food processes and techniques. They serve food primarily for one-shot tourists. In a cute setting.

                1. re: glbtrtr

                  A good place for abelskievers is Creekside Cafe in Cambria, CA. They serve excellent Danish sausage alongside... I have also seen on TV they are now selling abelskiever pans but they call them "pancake puffs"..

                  1. re: glbtrtr

                    Yep. The little doughy pancake balls that are sold in Solvang as "ableskivers" would make both my Danish Grandma's cry. They both used a recipe that was closer to crepe batter (a lot more egg than flour), no folding in of egg whites, though.

                    I don't remember either Grandma making pancakes similar to Swedish pancakes, though one did make a fairly thin, butter-drenched "sour-milk" pancake that I can't say I've ever seen or had anywhere else (it's probably against the law to use sour milk in a restuarant and my wife would die before she used anything sour...).

                    1. re: mikec

                      besides paula's pancakes, there's supposedly another very famous danish pancake house? (not talking about ihop), it's either located in solvang (also), or buelton, or more likely santa maria.

                      1. re: kevin

                        You're thinking of Ellen's Danish Pancake House, in Buellton. It originally was located in the spot now occupied by Paula's.
                        After a short time without a home, it reopened in Buellton and has been wildly successful ever since.
                        It's a little rougher around the edges than Paula's but the food is very good and certainly chow worthy.

                2. My wife and I travel up to the Central Coast from HOT Arizona almost every Sept. One of our absolute favorite food stops is Paula's Pancakes. Like other comments, the place can be busy and the parking challenging if you opt to park in front of Paula's. They only serve breakfast and lunch and although it is a small restaurant, it does have outside patio seating if you wish. The Swedish pancakes along with the eggs and sausage or bacon is wonderful I always enjoy their fresh squeezed orange juice and top it all off with a cup of coffee.