The Original Pantry Cafe
Your night may have started off slow as you took a vow to “take it easy” – but a happy hour here and a drink special there can eventually lead to an unexpected night of marathon drinking. It’s inevitable that thirst will turn into hunger and if not addressed soon enough, that hunger will turn into the “spins.”When drinking in Downtown, there are few places that come to mind when seeking a late night savory savior; LA Cafe on Spring Street and The Original Pantry Cafe on Figueroa. The Pantry, as we know it, is LA’s historic 24-hour diner unchanged since 1924. They pride themselves in never closing and never seen without a customer. When former mayor Richard Riordan bought the restaurant (and block’s property) he made no changes to keep the homely charm that people flock to. There’s nothing fancy about it here; scuffed linoleum floors, sticky counter-tops, and a cashier enclosed behind bars accepting cash only. On any given day, men and women in suits, uniform, or jeans form lines to get their hands greased up with a giant plate of All-American fare. But when the clock strikes midnight and night-crawlers come out, patrons in Laker jerseys and extra-tight clubbing attire suppress their intoxication with a hot plate of breakfast specials.
At this hour, the scent of bacon and drunken chatter fill the air as drunken eyes scan the hanging menu. Servers are patient yet take no nonsense from loopy customers, it’s this kind of no BS service that has people coming back. “I’m not looking to get my ass kissed, I just want good food and quick,” says Eli, a customer who stumbled in after a concert. He chows down on a plate of steak and eggs, using his finger to shovel bits of scrambled egg onto his fork. By the looks of it, if Eli wanted to lick ketchup off his fingers he would. A server fills his cup of water for the third time, it’s a routine servers understand as a late night necessity – no requests needed, the heavy eyes say it all.
Buttermilk pancakes take the lead when slinging plates across the counter. They’re thick, fluffy, and the answer to soaking up excess tequila. The large portions challenge all eaters, no matter how hungry you are. With a pancake span as large as a plate, those who dare to finish the stack may result in minor regret.
The Pantry continues to serve as Downtown’s late night, early morning, or mid-day savior. With no frills or unexpected changes, you can count on The Original Pantry Cafe to fulfill your greasy, bacon-scented cravings time after time.
Written by Janica de Guzman
Photographed by Eric Cacioppo