a tale of two pans: cream pan and the apple pan

You know you’ve found the right partner in life when you’re sitting at home watching a travel food program, see a restaurant in Los Angeles that you want to try, and your partner says, “Let’s go next weekend!” even though he hates Los Angeles. Boys that are willing to do all of the driving and take you to LA just to try food are my kind of boys. ?

That’s how we found ourselves one recent Sunday morning – getting up early for a trek to Los Angeles for a foodie adventure – my favorite kind of adventure!


Road trip fuel. Tastes like cocout chocolate milk with coffee. Did that make sense? #probablynot #labound

A photo posted by Mary @ This Tasty Life (@kyten) on

We stopped for some road trip fuel and I decided to try something new: a Vita Coco Cafe. It is espresso, coconut water, and milk. It was kind of odd, to tell you the truth. It tasted like drinking coconut flavored chocolate milk with a hint of coffee, if that makes any kind of sense.


Passing the boobies. #labound A photo posted by Mary @ This Tasty Life (@kyten) on

Passing the infamous “boobies” is always a sign you’re headed to LA land.


On the way up, we had to (HAD TO) make a stop at Cream Pan. It’s a rule now. If we go anywhere near LA, we must stop at Cream Pan. Sometimes Cream Pan will be out of the way but we do not care! It is that good!

Cream Pan is a Japanese bakery in Tustin that sells deliciously scrumptious baked goods. On our last trip in the area (which was to Catalina), Jake and I tried the steamed pork buns for the first time and immediately fell in love with them. 


I got three buns for Jake, T and I to have as an early morning treat. The bun is so soft, light, and fluffy and the pork filling is magical. It’s a simple filling (I believe just pork, onions and seasoning) but it is incredibly good. Jake and T pretty much talked about how awesome the buns were all the way up to LA.


We also got a package of Strawberry Croissants to take back home. For the record, these taste much better when you eat them on the spot. They tend to get soft quickly and you miss out on the crunch if you wait. These didn’t taste as awesome when we had them later in the day, but still good. 


My other “must have” treat are the ham and cheese croissants. I like to get a bunch to have for breakfast and to share. These reheat very nicely in a toaster oven and the cheese and ham inside is delicious. 

Cream Pan
602 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 665-8239


And here’s our actual destination – The Apple Pan! We’ve seen the Apple Pan featured on a few travel shows and we were quite excited to finally check it out. It’s a simple, no frills diner that stays open late (until 12am most nights and 1am on Friday/Saturday) serving up classic, simple food.


We got there early and there was no line. We were the first ones through the door that morning. 


I guess other people don’t want to eat burgers that early on a Sunday. Not like us! 


[click to enlarge menu]

The Apple Pan first opened in 1947 and is run by the original family that opened it. The daughter and granddaughter of the original owners run it now and have kept the place looking exactly the same, with the same menu. Our waiter told us he had been working there for 35 years and some of his co-workers had worked there for 40 years and another for 45 years. The longest was 53 years, but sadly that gentleman passed away not too long ago. People tend to change jobs frequently these days and it was impressive to hear just how long some of these folks had stayed on.

The menu is pretty simple. They have two kinds of burgers, ham sandwiches, tuna salad and egg salad and a “swiss cheese” sandwich. More options than In N’ Out but still quite simple. 


[cream soda / $1.75]

We got a kick out of these paper cones for the drinks. 


They give you a can or a bottle and you fill it up yourself but it’s still really fun to drink out of the paper cone. I had never seen this before! 


[french fries / $2.75]

The french fries came out very quickly (we were the first customers of the day and they were prepared for it). The fries come unsalted but they were still hot so it was easy to season them ourselves. The fries were golden and perfect. Our waiter slurped out some ketchup on a plate for us – he seemed to be the master of getting the ketchup out of the bottle. 


[combination / $9]

The “combination” sandwich just means that it comes with cheese. You get your choice of bread and the sandwich is served cold on untoasted bread. They give you a large chunk of ham which is good since this sandwich has a $9 price tag on it. I personally don’t like this much meat on a sandwich, I find it overwhelming and too hard to eat, but the ham itself was nicely done. Jake and T ate most of this one and said it was very good (boy approved). 



[hickory burger / $7.65]

For our burgers we decided to share two hickory burgers rather than try the steak burger. The steak burger’s sauce is a hamburger relish and I can’t stand relish (Jake doesn’t like it either). We opted to pay the extra 50 cents for a slice of Tillamook cheddar but in retrospect, this burger doesn’t need the cheese. The cheese takes away a little from that delicious hickory sauce. The hickory sauce is like a sweetish BBQ sauce and the flavor really compliments the beef. The beef tasted well seasoned and was not overcooked and the bun was toasted and a little spongy. A really great little burger! Wish we could have gotten some of that magical hickory sauce to go. 



[apple pie / $6.50]

Naturally, I insisted on us also trying a slice of pie and our waiter was nice enough to cut it into three slices for us. Aww! The apple pie was not overly sweet and using slightly tart apples on the inside. The apples were quite nice with just minimum spices used to really accent the flavor of the apples. The crust was divine – buttery, flaky, crunchy and a little on the thick side. I loved it! They also have pecan pie (which I was really tempted to try) and cream pies (banana and not sure if there’s anything else). 


It was a little pricer than I expected it to be, but the Apple Pan is well worth a trip if you’re in the area. It’s got that old school feel and even has the old cash registers still (hey, no credit cards here either, okay – it would ruin the old school vibe). The customer service is really spot on – our waiter was friendly and very efficient. We got our food and finished eating within a half hour! 

The Apple Pan had a small parking lot behind the restaurant and there’s also street parking available. I hear that if you get here and the counter top is full that people just stand behind you at the counter and wait for your seat. Glad we didn’t have to experience that by getting there so early. 

The Apple Pan
10801 W Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 475-3585
Cash Only
Closed Mondays

Alyssa noticed on Instagram that the two places we visited that day both had the word “pan” in them. She wondered if we were going to complete a trio and visit one more “pan” place and just to be amusing, we did. Back in San Diego near Jake’s house there’s a panaderia called “Panaderia Su Pan”. We stopped in and got a couple of Mexican baked goods but none of it tasted that great so I’ll simply post this from Instagram:


This is for @qualyssa, one more “pan” spot! The trio of “pan” restaurants visited today is complete. #nerdy

A photo posted by Mary @ This Tasty Life (@kyten) on

The trifecta was complete, but since I don’t feel like talking about this one, I leave it as a tale of “two” pans.

10 thoughts on “a tale of two pans: cream pan and the apple pan

  1. I thought this post was going to be a recipe on how to bake stuff in pans when I first saw title. That’s too funny you visited 3 places with ‘pan’ in the name. The first stop looked so good – is there a Japanese bakery here in SD that’s similar. I’m trying to think. The ham and cheese croissant looked amazing with all the cheese oozing out. I envy how your boys will do a food run all the way to LA based on a tv show. The apple pie looks like it’s swimming in some sort of soup?

    1. It was a coincidence that we were going to 2 “pan” places so we threw in the third one for fun. Hmm… I don’t know of a place here that’s similar. I heard that Sage French Cake is Japanese/French but I haven’t been there so I don’t know if they just do cakes or also croissants and things. Blog research! The ham & cheese one is sooooo good, that oozed out cheese gets a little crunchy when you retoast it, I love it. I am lucky to have someone willing to do crazy food runs with me, hooray! The apple pie wasn’t swimming in soup (haha), it was just that when he cut it into thirds some of the filling oozed out. It’s just apple pie juices!

  2. Great post. I like how spontaneous you guys are. I AM SO ANAL and like to plan things out with plan B and C. I’ve been wanting to try Apple Pan and your post is our preview.

    Mary and Faye, unfortunately there are no Japanese bakeries in SD that are equivalent to what Cream Pan offers. Sage does cakes but nothing like that strawberry croissant. The closest would be Paris Baguette Or 85c vutbtheir styles are different.

    Our road trips to LA are never complete unless we go to Cream Pan first.

    1. Thanks, CC! Okay, I didn’t have a B and C plan but I figured it would be open. I looked around for other possible places to visit and we did also fit in a donut stop but that didn’t fit my cool “pan” theme so I’ll save it for later. I didn’t think there was anything quite like Cream Pan down here, but a girl can wish, can’t she? haha

  3. I love Cream Pan, too, and make a stop every time we drive north. I reheat the strawberry croissants in the toaster oven to crisp them up; if you don’t heat them too long, the filling is fine.

    1. That’s an excellent point, Sandy! I do get worried about ruining the filling but if it’s quick it should be fine. There is a serious lack of toaster ovens at Jake’s so I wasn’t able to heat them up. Next time I’ll just eat it immediately. 🙂

  4. cream pan sounds awesome! those buns look so fluffy. and the apple pan burgers look good too, i usually prefer simple burgers to the crazy ones with extra meats and other things in the middle.

    LA trips can be a bit of a drag (urgh the traffic) but they do have some good food up there.

    1. That’s about the only thing we like about LA – the food! Especially the Chinese food, om nom nom. I prefer simpler burgers, too. We don’t need to get super crazy you know. Meat and cheese and onion is enough to make me happy usually!

  5. Paper cones were always the way water was served at Coneys and Sweet Shops (small diners that had a soda bar/ice cream) in Detroit when I grew up. I can’t wait for our monthly drives to Pasadena to resume…Cream Pan opens at 6 and it’s not crowded then. We talk about Apple Pan, but have always been diverted; it looks good.

    1. Hi Cathy – I like the paper cones! I hadn’t seen that before so it was fun to see a place still doing it that way. Luckily the line tends to move pretty fast at Cream Pan and isn’t too terrible a wait since we always stop there on our way up north, even if Cream Pan is a little out of the way.

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