Best I Ever Had: Pano’s Omelette at Billy’s Downtown Diner

Best I Ever Had: Pano’s Omelette at Billy’s Downtown Diner

Omnivorous omelette fans questing for an ideal form of this classic dish—one that’s both warmly comforting and sufficiently hearty to help power through a busy day—need to tuck into the lead item on the list of Signature Breakfasts at Billy’s Diner. Initially unveiled at the flagship Bethlehem eatery 18 years ago, Pano’s Omelette has achieved cult-level status at all three locales, each of which sells some 300 each week.

After opening in 2000, owner Billy Kounoupis was experimenting with omelette variations when a certain combination was a hit with his eldest son, Pano—short for Panayioti. “He’d ask, ‘Daddy, can I have some of your omelette?’ So I finally said, ‘No, it’s not my omelette, it’s your omelette,’” explains Kounoupis, who notes that naming dishes for family members, friends, and customers contributes to the community feel of the restaurants.

While the menu showcases a playful assortment of sweet and savory delights, Pano’s Omelette underscores the elegance of simplicity. “We’re using just basic ingredients, but how they’re put together and layered makes that omelette look so great,” Kounoupis says. And it doesn’t fall short in taste, either: Diced smoked ham and shredded cheddar are melted evenly throughout the rolled omelette—think of it as three-egg gift-wrapping—drizzled of sour cream and topped with crispy bacon bits, chopped scallions, and a gentle scattering of more cheddar shreds. Because of the way the elements are blended, flavors carry all the way through each bite. Buttered Texas toast contributes another dimension of crunch, and the standard choice of sides includes freshly prepared home fries—requesting “OPA the Papas” will add onions, peppers, and American cheese—or field greens with house-made Goddess dressing. However, other options available on request encompass Southern-style grits—a customer enlightened Kounoupis on the technique for achieving authentic creamy texture—oatmeal, or even a piece of fruit. The omelette may also be customized to an egg white-only version by telling the server to “Make It Healthy.”

Kounoupis suggests kicking off with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice before selecting from an array of plain and fancy coffee styles. To appreciate the difference made by premise-filtered water and the house blend of beans—ground fresh for each pot—try a sip of traditional “Coffee” before adding sweetener or dairy. You might discover that black coffee really is your cup of tea. 

Billy’s Allentown
840 Hamilton St

Billy’s Bethlehem
10 E Broad St

Billy’s Easton
123 S 3rd St

Follow @LehighValleyMarketplace on Instagram