99 Essential Restaurants 2014

Pann’s

photo by Anne Fishbein

If you believe the press releases, LAX at last has great eating options or, at least, great enough that you might not mind being stuck in its international terminal for a few hours while New York digs itself out of a blizzard. While we’re just as excited as anyone else about 800 Degrees and the other eateries that will make flight delays that much more bearable, they still won’t quite replace the mandatory pre- or post-airport stop at Pann’s, the Googie-style diner that opened in 1958. Designed by Helen Liu Fong and Eldon Davis of Armét & Davis, the diner remains a potent symbol of Americana: the upswept roofline angling high into the sky, the bright red booths inside, the long line of counter stools. Beyond architecture, Pann’s is one of the few bona fide classic American diners that does classic American diner food very, very well. Thus you could be happy at the counter slurping a strawberry milkshake with your patty melt, or sipping a mug of hot coffee alongside a plate of terrific chicken and waffles. No airport food could ever top that.

-- Tien Nguyen