Last week I went to LA to visit a long time friend that was in town for the Electronics Entertainment Expo and we had dinner at the historic Original Pantry Cafe in Downtown Los Angeles. The funny thing about going to the Pantry is that I had just remembered someone had suggested it back when I visited Philippe’s say it was a must. My friend and I were walking down Figueroa trying to find somewhere that wasn’t too busy when we came upon the Pantry. It wasn’t as busy as most of the other places nearby, most likely because it was cash only, which wasn’t an issue for us, we had cash on hand!
The first thing you notice when you enter the Pantry is that this is old school LA, there is counter service, you pay a cashier that is in their own little locked in both as you leave and the servers are full on no-nonsense. Our wait was only about 5 minutes, although it wasn’t without a laugh as a group of eight that entered after us attempted to just sit down wherever they wanted to and the wait staff nearly yelled at them for cutting in front of people who were waiting. I thought it was funny, since they should have realized we were waiting to be seated it’s not like we were hiding, we were in the front of the “wait to be seated” line.
Anyway about the food. The menu is a very limited greasy spoon menu ranging from standby breakfasts such as omelets to steaks. Considered that I was at the Pantry and there was a burger named “The Pantry Burger” I figured my best bet would be to try their namesake ($11.35). My friend Brian got the bacon and cheese omelet ($9.25), which came with potatoes and was supposed to come with toast, the waiter tried to pass off the regular bread they tossed on our table as toast but Brian wanted real toast, what he ended up getting was barely toasted wheat bread. His omelet was filled with a lot of bacon, and was decent, but it wasn’t that great (I didn’t get a picture of his food). My Pantry Burger let a lot of be desired. the burger came dry, which wouldn’t have been an issue if there was something more than just ketchup on the table, but the waiter didn’t even ask if I wanted anything on the burger. The burger was cooked well done, it was greasy and dry. Something I could live with if I had something I could have used to give it some flavor other than the minimal produce that was on the plate (2 slices of tomato, one leaf of lettuce and a couple of rings of onion). Along with my burger I was give cole slaw, which actually ended up being the star of the show, it was completely basic but it tasted just like cole slaw should, sweet and mayo. The french fries were pretty good as well, but I paid for a burger and it failed to meet my expectations.
Overall my experience at the Original Pantry Cafe left me unsatisfied. Open since 1924 you know there really has to be something about this place, but the Pantry completely missed the ball with my visit. I’d be willing to give them another shot considering the history, but I won’t be trying the burger if I do ever end up here again.
The Original Pantry Cafe
877 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017-2507