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Pan Pan Seafood Diner

Posted by DNR 5 Jul 2008 15 Comments

Thanks to the latest openings report, I had a reason to voluntarily go to the mall for dinner. Pan Pan Seafood (or diner, whichever) is a southern/fried seafood place in Northgate Mall and I was surprised to find a pretty palatable buffet right next to Sbarro’s and Steak Escape.

I’m not sure how long Pan Pan has been there, but apparently long enough to have a bunch of celebrities come through, from Babyface to Evander Holyfield, according to the photos above the buffet line. My indecision and the sight of ribs made the buffet the obvious choice. I tried a little of everything, including some dark turkey meat and stuffing, mac and cheese, fried shrimp, soft shell crab, greens, and black-eyed peas.

The ribs were pretty bizarre – they tasted exactly like Liquid Smoke – and everything else was pretty flat (it’s a buffet after all), but the black-eyed peas and turkey and stuffing were surprisingly good. Since they serve breakfast all day, I had to get a biscuit, and it was my favorite kind – huge and doughy and super buttery.

The lunch buffet is $8 and the dinner is $12 – not a bad price for all you can take (but as the sign says, absolutely no sharing or doggie bags). So if you find yourself at Northgate Mall and want some great turkey and stuffing, you know what to do.

Pan Pan Seafood @ Northgate Mall (map)
Monday – Thursday: 10 am – 9 pm
Friday – Saturday: 10 am – 10 pm
Sunday: 9.30 am – 8 pm


  • Ross Grady said:

    Pan Pan used to be on Hillandale just north of I-85, and at that time it was a 24-hour diner (which meant that yes, there were 2 24-hour diners within a single exit of one another on that stretch of I-85, Honeys being the other one). Just as Honeys provided a perfect & complete slice of white Southern cooking 24/7, Pan Pan was the best Soul Food you could find at 3:00 AM.

    That exit was closed for an extended period of time during the I-85 widening/realignment, and so Pan Pan packed it in (sometime around 2003, I think), which was the cause of great sadness among the late-night peoples of Durham. Erie Choir even wrote a song about it, “Pan Pan Where Did You Go?” which is downloadable from their ReverbNation page: http://www.reverbnation.com/eriechoir

    (you should actually download all the songs they have posted there, and instantly fall in love)

    Pan Pan Seafood opened in 2006; I wasn’t sure why they showed up on the openings list you posted the other day. Here’s an article: http://www.thedurhamnews.com/110/story/3512.html


    tyler replies on November 7th, 2009 at 6:50 pm:

    we sold that restaurant because my grandpa had to retire we even made goodtimes


    jason replies on November 7th, 2009 at 6:53 pm:

    u stink


  • gazebo said:

    This place is a re-incarnation of sorts of the old Pan Pan Diner on Hillandale, at the I-85 freeway exit. In fact, the place was closed and then demolished to make way for the freeway widening project. It was a 24-hour place with an ENORMOUS soul food buffet.

    Here’s an article about how the new Pan Pan came to be: http://www.thedurhamnews.com/110/story/3512.html


  • DNR said:

    I’d heard stories about a 24 hr soul food buffet. Thanks for the info!


  • kpw said:

    Pan Pan also had a sister restaurant in Harlem. I stopped in once about 10 years ago for breakfast and recall seeing a sign mentioning the Durham location on the wall. Unfortunately it closed a few years back after a fire. Too bad as it was a fun place – you can get a feel for it in this Alicia Keys’ video that was shot their not long before the fire:



  • NoCarSoPoBoy said:

    Pan Pan is/has/will always be awesome! This new location is run by the same family as the old one, and they recently removed “seafood’ from their outdoor sign and replaced it with “diner” at my mother-in-law’s suggestion. It seems their business was suffering after the move because nobody knew it was the same people.

    Next time you visit the buffet, you gotta ask them to make a fresh serving of fried oysters for ya… mmmmm.


  • Lovetoeat said:

    I went to Pan Pan and not impressed. I have eaten soulfood at the best places. I found the food greasy and the service less than par. I overhead the waitress and host tell a customer that the kitchen manager wouldn’t let them substitute mac n cheese for fries on a childs plate. I am not returning and everyone else should be cautious.


  • TSQ75 said:

    just popped into Pan Pan this morning because i had some business in the mall.

    AWESOME breakfast! amazingly tasty homefries, actually seasoned, and my english muffin was not toasted, but grilled! really tasty turkey sausage, and my husband had some pretty good salmon cakes with his. waitress was really sweet.

    real food, unpretentious, simple, and not overpriced. not overserved either, a moderate serving…


  • Laverne Meeks said:

    I don’t think Lovetoeat really loves to eat the best. I am so glad Pan Pan is back…is there ANYWAY that they can find a 24 hour spot again. These are the best calories…


    TSQ75 replies on July 2nd, 2009 at 8:30 am:



  • roger ibig bear said:

    the pan pan`s is the best place to eat in durham hello fellow ,if somebudy see to nancy please tell her i missend a lat of , she was a waitress, in pan pan`s I would like to keep in touch with her , thnaks for that sayonara hermilo LOL my e mail senyase27705@yahoo.com



    i need a copy of my w2 so i cAN FILE MY TAXES FROM 07


  • HHM said:

    My fiance loves the Ruebon Sandwich at Pan Pan and if I ate them I probably would too. They are huge and according to him very tasty! My mom and I accompanied him and my chicken dinner was pretty good I think but my Mom’s Deviled crab was awful. The deviled crab had anything but crab in it. Ugh, it smelled like fish that had been left out a couple of days. I may just give it another try if Mom can find something she likes. On the upside I think the veggies were good.


  • ScrabbleMan said:

    I wanted to like the new Pan Pan very much, as I loved the original incarnation on Hillandale. I visited on an off time, in the middle of the afternoon, while waiting for my car to be serviced. I decided to just get some pie and coffee, which no self-respecting diner should be without. I selected a slice of sweet potato pie. My coffee came, and a few minutes later, the waitress brought out the slimmest wedge of pie I had ever seen. I think it was just shy of an inch wide on the crust end!!! And to add insult to injury, the slice was ice cold, and the pie and the plate it sat on was wrapped tight in saran wrap, which apparently I was supposed to remove myself!! The waitress saw my hesitation and said “oh it’s that small because it’s really rich”. It was just ok. I had to order one of their famous “cheese biscuits” because I was still hungry. The biscuit tasted like it was made from the Pillsbury refrigerated package.

    I think Durham really needs a good “classic style” diner…this, unfortunately, is not it.


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