An L.A. institution in a city that thrives on change, this bastion of blue-collar cooking has been serving huge portions of comfort food around the clock since 1924. In fact, there isn't even a key to the front door. Owned by former L.A. mayor and botched governor contender Richard Riordan, the cash-only Pantry is popular with politicos, who come here for weekday lunches, and with conference-goers en route to the nearby L.A. Convention Center.
The well-worn restaurant is also a welcoming beacon to clubbers after hours, when Downtown becomes a virtual ghost town. A bowl of celery stalks, carrot sticks, and whole radishes greets you at your Formica table, and creamy coleslaw and sourdough bread come free with every meal. The menu? It's a chalkboard hanging on the wall. Famous for quantity rather than quality, the Pantry serves huge T-bone steaks, densely packed meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, and other American favorites to an already overfed crowd. A typical breakfast -- served all day -- consists of a huge stack of hotcakes, a big slab of sweet cured ham, home fries, and coffee.