The Best Greasy Spoon In Los Angeles

by Sandra Foyt on November 7, 2011

in Food Adventures

On a weekend morning, the queue for the Original Pantry Café Bake Shoppe appears to stretch for miles. But is the breakfast worth the wait?

First off, appearances are deceptive. The crowd of people looks intimidating, but actually, there are two lines – one for a table, and the other for the fast-moving counter.

Counter seating at the Original Pantry Cafe in downtown Los Angeles.

I stood outside for about fifteen minutes with my sister, Natasha, and her three-year-old son, Shane, during the height of the Sunday brunch hours; this was not an unreasonable wait, and shorter than comparable delays at Appleby’s or Manhattan restaurants.

Waiting in lunch for brunch at the Original Pantry Cafe in downtown Los Angeles on a rainy Sunday morning.

The breakfast was worth the wait. Not only is the food delicious and the portions hefty, but the taste of original Los Angeles culture is unrivaled.

Brunch at the Original Pantry Cafe in downtown Los Angeles.

I’m told that the #3 is the most popular item on the menu; $9.75 gets you two eggs, two pancakes or French Toast, potatoes, and bacon or sausage. And 50 cents gets you a bottomless cup of coffee. Trust me, you won’t leave hungry.

The #3 breakfast at the Original Pantry Cafe in downtown Los Angeles - two eggs, bacon, potatoes, two buckwheat pancakes, and a bottomless cup of coffee.

“Never closed, never without a customer” is the motto of the Original Pantry, which serves at least 3,000 guests daily (possibly more now given the 2007 source.) Owned by former Mayor Riordan, the Pantry is also a great place to spot celebrities.

The post outside lists such notable patrons as Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, and Marylin Monroe, but I asked our waiter who he had seen at the diner. In his thirty-three years working at the Pantry, he has seen a number of stars enter the restaurants. Among the most memorable were: Steve Segal, Sylvester Stallone, and Michael Jackson.

Chatting with the waiter at the Original Pantry Cafe in downtown Los Angeles.

But he said he doesn’t see too many these days since he has been working the morning shift. The best time to spot celebrities at the Pantry is anytime in the afternoon or during the even busier shift between 1-2AM when you see the crazy side of Los Angeles.

Room for Improvement – I was surprised, given Southern California’s pace-setting stance on public smoking, that a women smoked an entire cigarette while waiting in line. Common courtesy would dictate not smoking in front of a captive audience, but I was amazed that she wasn’t even asked to desist.

Original Pantry Cafe Bake Shoppe
875 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Cash only.
Open 24 hours. Located near the Staples Center.
Validated parking $2 for first 1.5 hour, $1/each additional 15 minutes, $10 maximum.

| Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email:, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

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