Pie 'N Burger
913 E. California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91106
Well it was another trip up to Katie's grandfather's house in Sunland. This time we would be having a garage sale to get rid of all his junk, oh sorry, I mean stuff. I am no fan of garage sales. I'm not too keen with the idea of people picking through your stuff, trying to get things for pennies on the dollar. I had a lady ask me how much a working wall clock was, and when I replied that it was a dollar, she shrugged her shoulders, and said it was too much. This is the kind of people we had to deal with all day. So when it was time to wrap up everything, and put a "free" sign on everything left, I was pretty hungry. Katie had promised to take me anywhere I wanted, so I made her take me to Pie "N Burger.
Pie 'N Burger is pretty much a Pasadena institution. They have been in business for 51 years, in this same location, just south of Lake, on California. Michael Osborn is the current owner of the place, and he started eating here as a nine year old boy, and started working at Pie "N Burger in 1972. It seems to be a theme here, as many of the employees have been here for as long as the customers can remember. There's a waitress that has been here since they opened, and they have had the same baker since 1971. Much like the people, not much has changed at Pie "N Burger, so I had a feeling we were in for a treat.
We got to Pie "N Burger just after three on a recent Saturday. There was a wait for the few tables that they have, but we got seated at their very long counter right away. A lot of people don't like sitting at the counter, but it was fun watching all of the employees getting the food out. The decor here is minimal. Wood paneling, many awards framed on the walls, and the infamous, and comfortable swivel chairs at the counter are all part of the old time feel here. The menu here is not going to blow you away with its diversity. They have a couple of daily specials, sandwiches, salads, and of course their legendary burger. We put in our order and out came our food in a timely manner.
Katie started things off for us with Pie 'N Burger's legendary Cheeseburger ($10.25 with a side). The burgers here come with a house made thousand island dressing, thick cut pickles, and lettuce, all on a toasted bun. This simple burger blew us away. It was clean tasting, the meat was really juicy, and the thousand island was one of the best ones I have had. This burger kind of reminded me of what Knowlwood's used to be like when I was a kid. I actually was sad I did not get this burger, but Katie did offer me two bites of it, such a giver. She opted for the potato salad as her side item. This was a pretty good version texture wise, as there were some decent chunks to it, but the flavor was a little too subtle for me. Katie liked the simplicity of it though.
Since Katie had gotten the burger, I went for what I thought would be the next best thing, the Patty Melt ($9.90). This was a traditional patty melt served on rye bread, with plenty of grilled onions and cheese inside. Not overly big, but the same great meat that was evident in the burger, was also on display on this patty melt. I wish the burger would have been equally split, as half of my sandwich was more melt, than patty. The fries here were nothing special, except that they reminded me of the ones at Bob's Big Boy.
Now let's talk about something that was pretty special, the pie at Pie 'N Burger. Most days they offer just under 20 different kinds of pie, all made early each morning. Katie went with a slice of Dutch Apple ($3.85 plus $1.75 for a generous scoop of ice cream). Quite simply, this was one of the most memorable pieces of pie we have had during the run of this blog. The crust was a great vessel for the nicely spiced, but not overly sweet apples. The crumb topping added just the right amount of crunch, and I was very pleased with the amount of ice cream served with this. This pie really rivaled the one we had at the Pie Hole awhile back. Well worth the trip.
I'm always a sucker for chocolate cream pies, but they only offered Chocolate Meringue ($3.85), so that is what I ordered for dessert here. I'm not usually a big fan of meringue, but this one did not get too much in the way of the very good chocolate cream underneath it. The chocolate was rich, but still light at the same time. A very hard balance to achieve. The crust held firm from the first bite to the last. Even though I really liked this pie, I would definitely have to go for the dutch apple on my next visit here.
Pie 'N Burger is worthy of all the hype that it receives. They are a traditional burger diner, doing things the way they have done them for decades, and they are not going to stop anytime soon. This is the same kind of burger that you can imagine your grandparents eating back in the day. A simple burger, where you do not even miss the inclusion of your beloved bacon. The pie is right up there with some of the best we have had. The only problem is that with so many different kinds, it's hard to choose which one to try. The service we experienced was spot on. The girl taking our order was very attentive, and filled our drinks regularly. Of course there was no getting away from us, as were sitting at the counter. Eating at Pie 'N Burger almost made it worth it to deal with all of those garage sale freaks. Almost.
Out of five Nobel Prize medals, (because this restaurant is a few blocks away from Cal Tech, which boasts 33 Nobel Prize winners from their alumni), five being best, to zero being worst, Pie 'N Burger gets 3.5 Nobel Prize medals.
For more information about Pie 'N Burger, go to their website here: http://pienburger.com/