Dear Mr. Gold:
I know I’m not in Texas any more, but I still need my chicken-fried steak every so often. Any suggestions?
—Dave, West Hollywood
For at least a couple of decades, my ready answer for the chicken-fried steak question was the Pines, an old diner way out on the Pearblossom Highway good enough to warrant a trip through the San Gabriels for its enormous pancakes, its primordial cheeseburgers, and its unique scramble of hominy and eggs. Paul Greenstein, the original owner of Millie’s back in the Pleiocene era of Silver Lake, first brought news of the place to the undernourished Eastside, and I think bits of its DNA has made it into half the diners in town by now. But the Pines has changed hands, has hours even more intermittent than before, and may no longer be an entirely reliable base on which to build a road trip — although it is a nice drive, and Vazquez Rocks is just a short cruise west. You could always try the Pines-inspired chicken-fried steak at Millie’s, a gravy-soaked slab that has a certain hearty hangover-breakfast appeal. Or you could go for the sleeker, less intimidating chicken-fried steak at the Googie-‘50s coffee shop Pann’s — a tawny, chewy beast available with its classic accompaniments of homemade biscuits and sausage gravy, gooey eggs over easy, and weak diner coffee. Pann’s CFS might only be the 13th best version in Midland, but in Los Angeles, it’ll have to do. 6710 La Tijera Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 670-1441.
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