It's a small town after all.
April 21, 2007 9:04 PM   Subscribe

Charles Phoenix's Disneyland Tour of Downtown Los Angeles... featuring Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. Feel like taking your own walking tour of Downtown? Here you go. But hey, why not stop and gorge yourself on a giant pancake breakfast at The Pantry first, just because? Open 24 hours a day, it hasn't closed since 1924 so the doors don't even have locks. Just like Disneyland!
posted by miss lynnster (25 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Dammit. I just came back from downtown a couple hours ago and would've loved to have had this walking tour map with me.

And for the life of me I couldn't remember where Clifton's was. But, I did find a great deal at Santee Alley on a $9 dress so all was not lost.

The Bob Baker marionette theater is amazing -- I went there last month and haven't stopped having a combination of nightmares and sweet dreams about it since.

Thanks for the post. I will be utilizing this info soon!
posted by Kloryne at 9:27 PM on April 21, 2007

Pantry closed a few years ago, when tehy were shut down by the health inspected.
posted by subaruwrx at 9:33 PM on April 21, 2007

Oh man. The Pantry is evil.

Thankfully it's more expensive than it should be, and the only items on the menu worth talking about is the coleslaw and the sourdough toast, so that mitigates some of the evilness.

The coleslaw is frighteningly good. By most metrics I actively dislike coleslaw. It's no friend of mine.

Except for the 'slaw at The Pantry. I've eaten nearly four plates of the stuff at a sitting. It's at this moment that anyone who has actually been to The Pantry gasps "Holy fucking shit! That's a lot of fucking coleslaw!". Most people can't handle one plate. One plate is a mountain of coleslaw. A loving, epic monument to the soppy mock-salad, served with heaping crusty plates of sourdough toast of all things. 4 plates of their slaw is an entire intercontinental mountain range of coleslaw.

That's how fucking good their coleslaw is.

It's like they figured out how to make really good coleslaw and really good sourdough bread and just gave up on the rest of it. Everything else on the menu is pretty much your standard greasy griddle slop, though some swear by the meatloaf, it didn't look like it was anything special.
posted by loquacious at 9:38 PM on April 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yeah, but -- what about Phillipe's the Original? Home of the French dip? (Is it still around?)
posted by Methylviolet at 9:48 PM on April 21, 2007

Yes! Man, I have to get my butt on the blue line. I haven't been there since my wedding day.
posted by Methylviolet at 9:49 PM on April 21, 2007



Ok, who forgot the weekly bribe to which city councilperson, exactly? Did they import some fucking health inspectors from Canada or some shit? Closing The Pantry would pretty much be like closing City Hall. They don't close The Pantry. That place is owned by Richard fucking Riordan, former Mayor of LA. Everyone ate there. Pretty much everyone in LA has eaten there at one point or another. It's the closest thing I ever saw to a "center point" in LA. It sure isn't downtown or City Hall, and it sure isn't the library, and if you say "Hollywood" or "Venice" I swear to fucking Mulholland I'll cut you like a b-roll splice in a Valley garage studio.

Closed!? Surely you jest. They haven't turned off those grills (much less cleaned them) in 50 years. You must have been hallucinating. Are you drinking the tap water? Don't. Rocket fuel's in it. Makes you crazy.

Next thing you'll be telling me they're renaming Figueroa St. to Denny Avenue.
posted by loquacious at 9:51 PM on April 21, 2007

In my entire life, The Pantry is the only place where my dad has ever not been able to finish a plate of food. And yeah, their coleslaw is evil. I don't even eat coleslaw, and yet I agree with you.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:53 PM on April 21, 2007

Noooo don't worry... the Pantry is still there. He was just trying to debate my "it's never closed" claim. Ten years ago (Thursday, November 26th 1997) it was closed by the County Health Department for minor health code violations and it reopened the very next day.

And yeah, Phillipe's is still there. Used to go there all the time. My crotchedy old grandfather first went there during the Depression but he always refused to eat there because he said the sawdust on the floor was unsanitary.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:00 PM on April 21, 2007

Hey Methylviolet!!! Check THIS out. Mmmmmmmm.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:03 PM on April 21, 2007

sadly loq, subaru's right. In the late 90's (or early zeros) craze of letter grade health inspection signs in our restaurant windows both The Pantry and Canter's on Fairfax were shut down. For the Pantry this marked the first closing on record. Not sure how they handled the no locks on the doors thing. As for Los Angeles' true center... Farmer's Market on 3rd & Fairfax would be my best approximation. The Pantry's too far east, not enough of Los Angeles lives to the East of it, and therefore everyone making a pilgrimage comes from one side only, which makes "centrality" a difficult claim to support. Now, the Farmer's Market has all of the history & charm of The Pantry, plus a much more logical location.
posted by jonson at 10:03 PM on April 21, 2007

man, I type slow.
posted by jonson at 10:04 PM on April 21, 2007

man, I type slow.

"Preview". Invented for folks like you!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:11 PM on April 21, 2007

Nah jonson, you don't type slow... it's just that I literally type 90wpm.
And I definitely agree about Farmer's Market! :)

posted by miss lynnster at 10:12 PM on April 21, 2007

I love it. They said it was in Hollywood -- but were otherwise pleasingly enthusiastic. I love downtown -- I don't get up there enough.
posted by Methylviolet at 10:15 PM on April 21, 2007

If you ever go back to Phillipe's, be sure to walk into the back room & let me know if they still have a Circus Museum there. It used to be a hangout for old circus performers & so there used to be all sorts of mementos of them on the walls.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:22 PM on April 21, 2007

Ten years ago Riordan was mayor. Riordan bought the Pantry while he was mayor. So if my memory is correct somebody from the Department of Health closed the mayor's restaurant? That's a story I'd like to know more about.
posted by rdr at 10:58 PM on April 21, 2007

Wow, oddly I didn't know that Phillipe's "invented" the French Dip.

Having had what was undoubtably less "authentic" but more elaborate and higher quality dips elsewhere, I was wholly unimpressed with the Phillipe's dip.

Granted I was there at like 2 in the morning. But I found it all a bit funky and just not very flavorful. I've had better sandwiches off a roach coach.

Truth be told one of the reasons Phillipe's and The Pantry survive is that there's jack else open at odd hours in the downtown LA core area, and little that's as affordable and reliable, unless you like McDonald's or Starbuck's. They most certainly do not survive on the quality of the food.

One of the other classic downtown LA gems is the TV Cafe, down to the southeast just a little ways in the beginning of the warehouse/garment districts. It's a trucker joint, mostly, but anyone who knows afterhours LA knows it. I highly recommend the burritos. They're ginormous and cheap and unexpectedly tasty.
posted by loquacious at 11:24 PM on April 21, 2007

I've only ate at the T.V. Cafe once and the food was disgusting. I didn't try the burritos though so maybe I should the place another try. Phillipe's on the other hand has a good cheap breakfast . Their french dip sandwich is actually quite good. Loquacious, I think you might have confused Phillipe's with some other place. Phillipe's closes at 10:00 p.m.
posted by rdr at 11:44 PM on April 21, 2007

It was Phillipe's, sawdust floors and curios and 9 cent coffee and all, so I'm probably just confusing the time. It was, however, closing time, whatever that was, and they wanted us to go away.
posted by loquacious at 12:16 AM on April 22, 2007

I'm old enough to remember the Atomic Cafe down where they used to call the "Warehouse District".
Do they still call it that?
Probably luxury condos by now.
Haven't been back to explore the town since I graduated from 'SC in '84.
(Does Langer's over by MacArthur Park still exist?)
posted by Dizzy at 12:39 AM on April 22, 2007

Yes indeed, public health shut down the Mayor's restaurant, albeit briefly. My recollection is something like this: there was some sweeps-week-scare-the-public TV news (CBS 2?) "special report" on how all these LA restaurants were filthy, staff wasn't washing its hands, etc. etc. This led to some LA Times articles about how there were only 6 inspectors for the whole city, and one of them was on mat leave. This in turn led to some crazy outcry about how something had to be done, so the health dept. shut down of some of the worst offendors. That included, you got it, The Pantry. It was reopened within a few hours, but the Mayor was pissed.
The other upshot was that the health department came out with those crazy grades you see in the windows of all the restaurants, telling you if this place got an A, B or C. It was hillarious to see some extremely classy places with a big C in the window
posted by drmarcj at 6:23 AM on April 22, 2007

I recall the A, B and C designations being around since I was a child, some 30 years ago.
posted by Dizzy at 6:46 AM on April 22, 2007

My boyfriend at the time worked in the restaurant biz & EVERYONE was having problems with it though. His restaurant had a C for a few days because there was a seal on a refrigerator that they felt needed replacing. A lot of times it wasn't about rats or anything actually life-threatening.

Fact is, if Oki Dog can get an A, the ratings mean crap. Oki Dogs kill.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:33 AM on April 22, 2007

I've only been to the Pantry a couple of times, even though I've worked directly next door for the past eight years. The food was okay, certainly not spectacular. But my god, the lines begin at 6 in the morning, and never seem to disappear.

Anyway, I liked the tour video, the juxtaposition of Disney and L.A. is interesting. (After all, the best roller coaster in L.A. is the 110 freeway between downtown and Pasadena!)
posted by malocchio at 11:38 AM on April 22, 2007

Phillipe's still has the wooden phonebooths, circus and train memorabillia, sawdust, baked apples and cheap coffee... but they also have good wine by the glass and a wireless network! And since Cole's is closed for (god help us) renovation, I propose that Phillipe's officially wins the "who invented the French dip" contest forever.

The legend about the Pantry has always been that the staff if made up of recently parolled lifers. Too bad everything off the grill is so dang nasty, cos who doesn't love being served by cranky old cons?
posted by Scram at 6:07 AM on April 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

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