There is an overabundance of terrific restaurants in Pasadena, and most residents have their favorites. I, for one, am often a creature of habit. I know what I like, and if I’m ever unsure of where to eat I stick to the places I can trust.
Recently, however, I saw a new restaurant named The Pan that opened up on Holly Street, not far from some of the most frequented eateries in the city.
The Pan offers a wide range of food to choose from on their menu, but what it does well overall is simple: comfort food. Whether you’re in for breakfast or dinner, grabbing take out or sitting in with a group, there are so many options for all kinds of diners that it’s almost overwhelming, only in the best way possible.
Upon arriving, my friend and I were slightly confused by a sign that said The Pan was near a tiny bar, with only a few people inside. We looked around and realized further up ahead we could see another entrance to the actual restaurant. The dining area is on the smaller side, with quirky, colorful artwork all along its walls. The wooden tables are lined with different colored chairs, and the flat screen TV was playing the World Series — an added bonus for patrons and staff alike.
While I’d intended to try The Pan for breakfast, my friend and I wound up going for dinner, and were happy to learn that they serve breakfast all day — making our already tough decision much more difficult. The Pan serves a variety of breakfast offerings, including loaded hash browns ($12), consisting of eggs, bacon, sausage, green onion and cheese over hash browns, topped with chili aioli, French toast ($11), and chicken and waffles with blackberry syrup ($13.50).
Despite these dishes, which all sounded amazing, we knew we had to try their specialty pancakes which come in several unique flavors, with all their batter, butter and fruit purees made in-house daily. After some back and forth, we settled on the cinnamon roll pancakes ($9) — three pancakes filled with cinnamon-brown sugar puree and pecans, topped with sweetened cream cheese and powdered sugar. One bite and I was taken back to my childhood; splitting a Cinnabon at the mall with my mother after a day of errands and shopping, although these pancakes are the gourmet version of that. The sweetened cream cheese was perfection, but we ordered the coconut syrup (for a 50 cent upcharge) which took the pancakes to a whole new level. I’ll admit; I am not a huge fan of coconut. But now I will be having this syrup each time I return for breakfast, it was that good. Chocolate chip pancakes were my favorite “indulgent” flavor up until Cinnamon roll so easily took the cake.
After splitting our pancakes, we wanted to give their pizza a try, as they appeared to be a crowd favorite on Yelp. Lucky for us, we each got to choose a flavor because their pizzas can be ordered with split flavors. We chose the “El Pollo Alfredo,” made with chicken, garlic, spinach and a house-made alfredo sauce, and “The Mexican,” made with chili verde (pork in a green chili sauce), mozzarella, cilantro, jalapenos, red onions and green onions, topped with sour cream. A forewarning: The Mexican is pretty spicy (we had to remove a few jalapenos to eat it at a more comfortable level of spiciness), but it was otherwise delicious. The dough is soft and crispy on the edges, the slices a perfect portion, and the medium was the perfect shareable size, unless like us, you order a few pancakes to start and have to take a couple of slices home.
All of their pizzas can be ordered as deep dish ($2 upcharge), gluten free ($15 for a 10 inch), or as a calzone ($10). There is also a “Create Your Own Pizza” option on the menu, offering a little something special and customizable for everyone.
While there weren’t many other people dining, possibly because of the game, the food took longer than we’d be accustomed to at other restaurants but didn’t mind. We knew everything is made fresh to order as their menu warns of this for patrons who may not be as patient.
Our friendly waitress explained the small bar we had stumbled upon earlier is part of their restaurant, called Tiki, and drinks can be ordered from their menu while in The Pan. They offer happy hour every day from 3 to 7 p.m. on beers, wine, and mixed drinks which allows customers to buy a drink and get their second half off. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the drink menu for brunch lovers is that they offer bottomless mimosas for $16, for a full hour, at any point in the day. That’s right — mimosa lovers don’t have to try and beat the Saturday rush at noon and instead can make their way much later in the day, on a Tuesday if they please. Personally, I think it is genius and, in combination with the hour cap, must help alleviate long waits on the weekends with their limited space.
The Tiki also offers interesting tropical mixed drinks like Polynesian Paralysis made with whiskey, orange juice, lemon juice, pineapple juice and simple syrup ($9). Not all of their other locations serve alcohol, so it’s nice to have the option close to home. The Pan also has specialty drinks, like an array of smoothies, shakes, and frappes, and flavored lattes and cappuccinos.
The Pan has such an extensive menu there were several items that I was already looking forward to trying by the time we paid the bill. Their variations of loaded fries include carne asada fries ($12), pastrami fries ($10), and chili cheese fries ($9). Several other specialty pancakes, like the “Best Ever” banana pancakes ($9) as recommended by our waitress, and the pineapple upside down pancakes ($9) are sure to be amazing.
It seems as though The Pan has it all figured out, and in an area like the one they’ve chosen as their home in Pasadena, it’s important. Customers walk in expecting good food and good service, and they possess both of those things tenfold.
(Editor’s note: Evelyn’s column ran last year at this time, but since a friend and I recently visited The Pan and left raving about the food, the service and the prices, which have not changed in the past 12 months, we decided to reprise her story with only a few slight adjustments.)
57 E. Holly St., Pasadena
Major Cards/Alcohol Served