It's always pie 'o clock at Pie 'N Burger.
The Apple Pan in Westwood is the old school burger spot that gets all the hype, which is no surprise given the Westside bias in L.A. food coverage. Don’t get me wrong. It’s worth eating the occasional burger and slice of apple pie at The Apple Pan’s U-shaped counter, but neither compares to the versions you’ll find at Pie ‘N Burger in Pasadena.
Pie ‘N Burger has plenty of history of its own. After all, it’s been in business down the street from Caltech since 1963, and current owner Michael Osborn started working there in 1972. That level of continuity shows in the food.
The space is long and lean. A counter runs the length of the room and a few tables huddle together in back. The counter is clearly the best place to sit, affording views of skilled grill men and the tantalizing pie case.
Burgers all come with homemade Thousand Island dressing, pickles and crisp iceberg lettuce. I added a square of Swiss and meaty bacon slices to the juicy, griddled burger.
The renowned hash browns are crisp and browned on one side, soft and buttery on the other side. They’re a little greasy, but still a solid side.
The pie maker has been the same since 1971; it’s no wonder they’ve been employed for so long. They bake more than a dozen types of pie every day.
When I asked our waitress to name her favorite pie, she said “Peach,” which is only available in July and August. I ordered it instantly and she asked if I wanted whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I said I wasn’t interested in either accompaniment, and she said, given my unsatisfactory response, I should never ask for her advice again.
Excellent pie consisted of nothing but thin crust, big chunks of sweet peach and a little peach jelly to bind the fruit.
Luscious coconut cream pie is available daily, with toasted coconut shreds, a fluffy meringue cap and thin crust.
It had been years since I last ate at Pie ‘N Burger. Big oversight.