Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Headed Down Memory Lane to Knowlwood

5665 E. La Palma Ave
Anaheim, CA 92807

There are not too many restaurants that are still in business for the people of the OC to be nostalgic for. A lot of the restaurants that I grew up with have shuttered a long time ago. There are some exceptions though. Mama Cozza's, Jolly Roger, Mexi-Casa, Farrells, and Benjie's come to mind. Ironically these have all been reviewed by us, and you can read these reviews by clicking on the right hand side of the page, under our restaurant roll call section. Back to this post though, and another restaurant I have memories growing up with, Knowlwood.

My family and I used to go to the original Knowlwood. Same location as they are now, but completely redone from the ground up. Knowlwood has been around since 1957.  To show how long ago that was, consider that Dwight Eisenhower was President back then. I really just wanted to reference the 34th president once in this blog, mission accomplished.

Back in those days there was no 91 Freeway, there were orange groves all over the place, and  Roy and Faye Knowlton, along with Gene Wood opened a hamburger stand on Imperial Highway that served road weary travelers. As the county grew around them, they kept serving burgers, which the locals called, "the worlds best!". I remember going to the old restaurant. Gravel parking lot, lights strung up over picnic benches outside, old screen doors that clanked shut behind you, and a fireplace that was outside, and might have been part of the restaurant at one time, but was just a place for little kids, like myself to climb all over.

Those days are long past. Knowlwood now has a more modern feel, even though they are trying to replicate the restaurant being in a old barn. They still have some picnic tables and benches here, but there are booths as well. Ordering is done at the counter and then your number is called when your order is ready to be picked up. The restaurant was pretty packed when we got here at 6 on a Wednesday night. Let's see if the food is as good as we remember.

Judging from my niece's face, you can see that Lillie is very happy with her Kid's Corn Dog Meal ($3.79). My other nieces got the Kid's Chicken Strip Meal ($4.39). The kids meals come with refillable beverage, cookie, and fries or oranges, (what kind of kid will pass up fries in favor of oranges?). The girls had no problem finishing these baskets of fried goodness off in record time.

The birthday boy, aka my Dad, was not in the mood for a burger, so he selected the French Beef Dip ($5.39), served with au jus on the side. He told me that he always gets this sandwich when eating at Knowlwood. He likes the fresh bun, the quantity of the meat, and the au jus is always served hot.

Maybe my family forgot that this place is nicknamed, world's best burgers. My sister Kristin ended up ordering the Fish and Chips ($6.39). At Knowlwood they hand batter, then deep fry cod, and serve it with tarter sauce. Kristin called this, "okay, not fantastic or exciting". She also mentioned that she expected a little more from this fish and chips that was just a step above frozen grocery store fish.

Hey, what do you know, we finally got an actual burger. Our good friend Todd got this World's Best Burger ($4.19) with a whole wheat bun. The burgers came with all the usual; tomato, lettuce, grilled onions on request, pickles, and your choice of either thousand island or their signature creamy mustard. Todd felt this burger was just a step above a burger you could get at a fast food place. I did not try this burger, but it did look as appetizing as a fast food burger. He did enjoy the fries though.

Jarrod kept the burger parade a coming, when he got the World's Best Cheeseburger ($5.69). He was very pleased by this burger. You can not see it in the picture, but he got his burger with thousand island dressing and bacon. The picture does show the perfectly melted cheese.

Katie would make a vegetarian very confused when she ordered the Veggie Cheeseburger ($5.69). This meatless patty was served on a wheat bun. She was not a fan of this burger, calling the meat, "mushy", and the cheese, "kind of like plastic". Not one of the top 50 veggie burgers she has had.

I went with one of Knowlwood's most popular sandwiches, the Frisco Burger ($5.99). This burger had a little bit of everything on it. Bacon, lettuce, cheese, tomato, pickles, grilled onions, and thousand island dressing all on grilled Parmesan sourdough bread. I liked half of this burger. The first half I had, the beef covered the whole slice of bread, while the other half of my sandwich barely covered a quarter of the toast on the other side. This really needed a bigger patty. I should have paid the extra dollar and gotten the half pound patty, instead of the one third pound. The sandwich also came out lukewarm, almost like it was sitting for awhile.

One thing I will always remember about Knowlwood is that they were the first place I ever had Irish Nachos ($4.29). I am not sure if they invented the cheese and bacon covered french fries, but I always recall enjoying this appetizer as a kid. It is still a pretty good concoction. Worth noting is that they make their own Ranch dressing, and it is still one of the best I have had in a restaurant. They got the consistency of the dressing down to an art form. Not too runny, good and subtle flavor, and thick enough to coat a french fry. It helps make this a go to side item here.

Knowlwood is not the same as I remember growing up. Maybe it is the fact that my tastes have evolved. What I thought tasted good at age 7 does not even sound good anymore. I mean I even liked putting mayonnaise on my hot dogs as a kid. I could not even stomach that now. I am not saying anything here tasted like a hot dog with mayo on it, but I am saying tastes change. It could also be that I have become accustomed to much better burgers. I mean Slater's 50/50 is in the same neighborhood as Knowlwood, and there is no comparison between the two. I know bacon makes everything taste better, but even Slater's regular patty, without bacon had more behind it than the burgers at Knowlwood. The service and atmosphere here was pretty good, but the food did have temperature issues. Prices have remained pretty decent here. Glad to see one of the restaurants from my childhood still up and running. Makes me feel a little less old.

Out of five Frisbee's, (because the same year that Knowlwood started was the same year as the Whamo Company introduced the world to the flying disc, the Frisbee), five being best to zero being worst, Knowlwood gets 2.5 Frisbee's

For more information on Knowlwood, click here: http://www.knowlwoodrestaurants.com/

Knowlwood on Urbanspoon


  1. Hot dogs with mayo rock. Slater's isn't very good at all. I hope you got your Irish Nachos layered!

  2. You missed another very good burger which is a local dish, the Chili Size. They have about as good a rendition of that as there is. Certainly I hear my veins snapping shut every time I have one. Good place, all locations. the Irvine location is my favorite, used to be by my first house when I moved out here. It's in the middle of everywhere for OC.

  3. Knowlwood is a place that is solid. They serve consistent food for a decent price. It's tough to compare them with Slaters 50/50. That's more of a gourmet speciality burger place at twice the price. This area also has In N Out, TK Burger and The Habit is a few miles away. Lots of burger options to choose from.

    - TT

  4. It would be nice if you would add the OC Health Department rating with your review. A lot of restaurants that have less than perfect scores tend to place thier Health grade Placards in either high or low places instead of dead center eye level as you approach the front door

  5. Griffin - Can't believe you do not like Slater's. I did not get the nachos layered, I did not even know they offered that. I will have to go back and try that. I also can not condone mayo on hot dogs. That is something that will stay in my past! Thanks for the comment.

    Jim St.- I did not even know they had chili. I see now that you can add it to your burger for an extra 95 cents. I will have to try that one, maybe in Irvine. I pass by there all the time. Thanks for reading.

    TT - I agree with your sentiments. Solid place to eat, but there are so many other burger places these days, that Knowlwood may get over looked. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    BeachBumBob - The OC Health Department has a great web site to check out restaurants health department visits. You can find it here: http://foodinspections.ocgov.com/foodinspections/ Thanks for the comment.