The newest restaurant in the eatery-packed block of State and Cota streets serves up comfort food in small packages but only on Fridays and Saturdays, 6 p.m.-midnight. While The Pan (18 E. Cota St.,  845-3825) differs greatly from its Montesano Group siblings (Lucky’s, Tre Lune, Bucatini, D’Angelo’s, Joe’s), the influence is evident in the quality of the food — and the Café Luck plates it’s served on. Yes, that place with menus taped over the windows is a restaurant.
What was the idea for the restaurant? In a word, “fun.” All of the players in the restaurant have other jobs, but they relish getting together on the weekends for made-from-scratch versions of their favorite foods: burgers, fries, and boozy milkshakes. The vision for The Pan is updated skillet classics: fresh, American tapas with rock ’n’ roll playing in the background. People can grab a salmon burger before an event or leisurely share courses of loaded potato tots and dark-chocolate banana bits as friends join them.
When should you visit The Pan? Anytime — on Friday and Saturday nights, that is. As one of three late-night downtown eateries, The Pan caters to midnight cravings, early dining families, friend groups, and patio-goers (the back porch even has heaters). Since days are limited, ingredients are ordered in small amounts to ensure that they’re used quickly while still fresh. All menu items cost between $3 and $6 for dine-in or take-out. Options include full comfort (e.g., Nathan’s chili dogs and Mexican Coke) and lighter fare (veggie burgers and “Healthy & Organic” cocktails).
What’s the plan for The Pan? For the short term, the truffle mac and cheese will keep you salivating until the next weekend. The long term is anyone’s guess. More hours? More locations? An actual website instead of just facebook.com/pages/The-Pan/380541281973761? Well, there will at least be new specials this week.