Pie ‘n Burger (Pasadena, CA)
While we were in the Los Angeles area, we were advised by our unofficial tour guide Turney to head over to Pasadena to get a burger at a quintessential Southern California burger stand. Between fast food giants like McDonald’s and In-N-Out and stand-alone throwbacks to the 50s and 60s, the burger stand might just be the staple of Southern California cuisine.
Since Turney hasn’t been wrong with a recommendation yet, we decided to follow his advice and head over to Pie ‘n Burger in Pasadena for, well, pie and burgers.
Edie opted for the cheeseburger because we were at a burger joint and you can’t go to a burger joint and not order a burger, at least on the first trip. The burger was a single patty (probably 6ish ounces) with American cheese, tons of caramelized onions, Thousand Island-based dressing, lettuce, pickles, and a toasted bun. It wasn’t an overly large burger, but definitely filling, with or without a side of fries.
The burger was messy with all of those toppings but was certainly a great burger. The flavors mixed perfectly with nothing being overpowering, which is probably why Pie ‘n Burger has been named one of LA’s best burgers several times.
Scott went with the patty melt so that we could try a couple of different menu options. First, take two slices of delicious buttered and toasted rye bread, then add a burger and just the right amount of oozy cheese. Top with a healthy dollop of grilled onions and a few pickles. To put it simply, it was a pretty perfect patty melt and they could easily change the name of the restaurant to Pie ‘n Patty Melt without anyone thinking it’s a bad idea.
The patty melt (and most of their sandwiches other than the burgers) are typically served with potato salad, but we opted to split the fries instead.
The side of fries that we split were done just the way we like them. They were thick cut without being steak fries, perfectly crispy on the outside and still soft and delicious on the inside. The thickness made them excellent at the most important job of a French fry: scooping ketchup or mustard.
Pecan Pie a la Mode
After eating our burger (and that other stuff that was also delicious, but isn’t part of the restaurant’s name), we moved on to the other necessary half of a visit to Pie ‘n Burger: pie. But unlike choosing the sandwiches, choosing which slice of pie we wanted to split took a little more deciding. There are 20 different kinds of pie served here (plus a few other desserts, like 5 kinds of cake), ranging from fruity pies like apple and peach to meringue pies like coconut and banana and even a seasonal mince meat pie.
After a short discussion, we chose the pecan over the peach, requested it “a la mode,” and waited a couple minutes for our warm slice of pie to arrive. Holy moly was it good! The crust was flaky and buttery. The pecan filling was delicious. This isn’t a store-bought pecan pie. It’s like you’d make in your own home, assuming you’re an expert baker that can make unbelievable pecan pies.
In fact, the pie was so good that we’d advise that you take the restaurant’s name as a suggestion. Have the pie first, then have the burger for dessert if you still have room.
Pie ‘n Burger isn’t a huge place, but it’s big enough to accommodate the steady business they enjoy. We sat at the lunch counter with a few other patrons and noticed that there are enough tables and stools to handle probably 50-60 people at any one time, maybe a few more.
Unfortunately, we can’t recall our waitress’ name, but she was super sweet and friendly, talking to us about our trip and giving us a little good-natured ribbing about the way we say “pie”. For those of you that don’t know us and our Kentucky accents, we say it more like “piiiiiiiii”. She even tossed an extra scoop of ice cream onto our pie plate so we could each have our own scoop while we split the slice of pie.
Our total including tax was $27.02, plus a $6 tip. That’s certainly not the cheapest lunch meal you can find, but it was very filling and delicious. The cheeseburger was $7.10 and the patty melt was $9.50. Our slice of pie with ice cream was $5.60. We’re not exactly sure what the breakdown of that remaining $4.82 is between fries and tax.
This place really is a slice of Americana. Beyond the awards the restaurant has received for the quality of its food, the employees must really like it too. Throughout ownership changes, one waitress has been there since the restaurant opened in 1963 and they’ve had the same baker since 1971, giving him/her 41 years to perfect the craft.
The Doggy Bag, By Knox
Wait! You went out to eat without me?! Again?! What kind of dog lovers are you?! Where’s my half of the burger? How come I don’t get a bite of that patty melt? Pecan pie! I love pecan pie and ice cream.
I’m going on strike. No more cute photos from me until I get to participate in the grubbing. Grandma would never inflict this kind of animal abuse on me.