French Toast and Joe: The Pancake Factory

With the background radio playing songs that would fit in an episode of “Miami Vice” and set next to a shady motel, eating at The Pancake Factory made me think Harvey Keitel would be my dining partner in a movie stakeout scene.

♫ I can feel it, coming in the air tonight, oh Lord ♫ — the assurance from seeing an “A” grade.

Sadly, I was eating alone and for the most part, Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” was stuck in my head as I ordered French toast at the Pancake Factory.

Breakfast wasn’t groundbreaking as a Tarantino film (maybe the Nutella French toast would have been), it didn’t “Take My Breath Away” which came on the radio a bit later, but the combo of thick French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and coffee for $12 and change after taxes hit the right spot for its price.

All the caffeine you want for just over $2.

The best part of the combo was what comes extra: the scrambled eggs, hash browns and bacon. The hash browns weren’t overcooked and had a nice flavor and happy medium of being crisp, but still potato in nature. The bacon wasn’t too soggy or burnt, too.

The stars of today’s breakfast. The mood really changed when hash browns left the scene after a surprising performance.

The French toast itself was thick, but was a bit heavy on the “eggy” taste; it soaked a bit too much in. I had to add “old fashioned” syrup — one of four offered on the table, which included strawberry, blueberry and butter pecan — as the butter wasn’t enough to overcome that taste.

Powdered sugar and butter not enough to overcome the overdose of egg on bread.

As mentioned, the prices seem reasonable and if you have a student ID, you can get more off the bill. The place is quite packed for lunch, so don’t expect a quiet time dining.

I wonder how many El Camino students or faculty try to say they’re still kids to the server.

On the way out I noticed the huge hoagies and enormous amount of fries piled on the plates the lunch crowd was enjoying, so it might be worth a jaunt to try something more than pancakes or French toast.

While The Pancake Factory may not measure up to Coco’s and might be slightly more in cost than Denny’s, it is closer to El Camino College than those two locations. If coffee and flapjacks are your jones, it’s worth a look.

IMG_0243The Pancake Factory is located at 15619 Crenshaw Blvd. in Gardena and is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Wi-Fi available on premises. Phone: (310) 349-0325. A menu with prices and online ordering is available at


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