There are five Pamela’s around Pittsburgh with similar (but not identical) menus, each with its own personality. I enjoy the one on the Strip (60 21st St.) with its self-consciously retro decor of mid 20th-century photo portraits on the walls, but my heart belongs to the Pamela’s in Millvale.
To some degree, my affection owes to waitress Flo, who’s worked here 48 years and before that used to come to the place to loaf with friends on Friday nights after football. (In Pittsburghese, to loaf is to hang out.) Flo steered me to the strawberry hotcakes and freshly squeezed lemonade. When she was a teenager and came around on Friday nights after football, the place was what it continues to be: the soda fountain / diner half of a pharmacy. It is a very large space with pharmaceuticals on one side, booths and counter on the other.
Beyond the charm of the well-burnished room in general and of Flo in particular, Pamela’s (aka Lincoln’s P&G Diner) is notable for the high quality of its food, hotcakes in particular. They are dime-thin and lace-edged like crepes, and while they are exquisite served flat like pancakes (hardly needing butter or syrup), most customers have them rolled around other ingredients. The signature stuffing is strawberries, brown sugar, and sour cream — with the eggy, buttery hotcakes, a magic combo — but they also can be ordered with blueberries, bananas and walnuts, or bananas and chocolate chips.
From-scratch corned beef hash is a nice balance of soft potato, briny beef, and griddle-caramelized onion. French toast is made from croissants. A full soda fountain offers milk shakes, malts, phosphates, egg creams, sundaes, and banana splits.
Note that business is cash only.