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Pie & Burger - UH OH!

Hey fellow hounders,

I recently experienced Pie N Burger based on some favorable posts on this board. I have to say my expectations were high but i was thoroughly disappointed.

First of all they didn't take reservations which is really annoying considering the fact that it is so popular and I was coming in from Fountain Valley. When I got there with my date our jaws hit the floor - IT WAS A DINER! Now when I think of "best burger in LA" I'm thinking of something a little bit nicer than
Denny's. But I was there for the burger.

The ladies who took my order was straight out of Alice, a little sassy, which I like but a little spacey, which I don't. At one point she asked if we wanted small glasses or big glasses for our wine that we had brought in. Hello? Big glasses? Small glasses?
How about some wine glasses. Ridiculous.

Now on to the burger. The bun and patty were good, but three inches thick of lettuce could ruin almost anything. And I don't think you call a burger the "best in town" and not have it cooked to order. The waitress said it was only done one way but that's just too fast foody to me.

All in all it was a relatively inexpensive experience but this kind of fare warrants Fatburger/In N Out prices but, alas, it does not. I'm sure I will here some strong arguments on this board in regards to this review but anything with 1,000 island drenched on it is trying hide something - that the burger can't stand on its own. It was fine food for my three year old niece but not a grown ups appetite.

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  1. pie'n'burger, like apple pan, is probably one of those things you either get or you don't. i, quite frankly, never have. i think people want to believe they're getting a "real experience," when what they're getting is just lazy cooking and haphazard service. if you want a real top-notch "diner" experience, come down to Long Beach and visit jongewaard's bake'n'broil. great burgers, shakes mixed to order (in summer, try the olallieberry) and all homemade desserts.

    3 Replies
    1. re: FED

      Frankly, I love Apple Pan and I don't understand Pie & Burger at all. I went there once, and it was expensive and uninteresting. The burger tasted like a million others I've had, the fries were limp, and the cheese sandwich was uninspired. Compare Apple Pan, where I think everything is perfect.

      1. re: FED

        The thing about Pie n' Burger is mostly that it's a Pasadena icon that has basically not changed since it opened it's doors. I personally like the burgers, but most everything else there is poor in my opinion. Going there is like going back in time.

        I don't know about anyone else, but I found the original post hilarious. They brought wine to Pie & Bburger...LOL Sorry but that is too funny. That's a little like bringing a fine pinot noir to KFC...

        Obviously I don't intend to belittle the OP, But I found that post VERY amusing...

        1. re: spankbot

          i thought it was funny also. just random. and to not have reservations, even tho they mentioned it was like a diner? yeah......reservations...

      2. I agree, Pie & Burger is overhyped. Bake & Broil is the real deal, great burgers and fantastic pies. The apricot pie and banana cream are phenomenal.

        1 Reply
        1. I think the problem here is pretty obvious. Your expectations for the place were totally out of whack. Trying to make reservations, driving 40 miles, bringing a bottle of wine along... Pie N' Burger isn't Cut.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mehfactor

            Totally agreed. I can't imagine what would make anybody think they need a reservation at Pie and Burger...Next she'll think the same about Pinks for goodness sake.
            There's a reason places like Pie and Burger, Pinks, Tommy's etc. last for generations. People adore them. Simple as that.

            1. Count me as a Pie n Burger fan. I live in the area, so I didn't have the frustration of driving far, for something unexpected. I like the burgers, but truly, love their fresh fruit pies, with whipped cream.

              1. Hmm, bringing a bottle of wine to PnB?

                1. sorry you didn't like it, but personally, i love the atmosphere at pie n burger. i like the counter, the hand-mixed sodas, the waitress uniforms, and watching the guys cook and assemble the burgers. i guess it wasn't what you were looking for, but it is what it is, and i think thats a big part of why it is so popular. also, its about a 10 minute walk from where i live.

                  i also tend to think that they make a great cheeseburger and a great slice of fresh peach pie. i guess different people have different tastes. i don't go there specifically looking for the best burger in la, just a burger that tastes great to me.

                  i've never found the cooking to be lazy or the service to be haphazard as someone posted earlier. i'm not quite sure what exactly that means. apparently, i've never had a "real experience", but i've definitely enjoyed my meals there.

                  doesn't sound like you'll be back, but there's a cute little wine store in the back that has some interesting bottles. i take the bottles home though. i've never had wine with a meal there, doesn't seem right to me.

                  1. Hello... The name says it all really, and honestly. Pie and Burger. Expecting anything more goes beyond the joint's own longstanding vision and into the assumptions of the customer. I do, however, understand that they serve a fine breakfast, so mayber 'Pie and Burger and Breakfast' would leave little doubt as to whether stemware is needed...

                    1. Hehehe...you really should have thoroughly checked your assumptions and your facts prior to trying this restaurant.

                      It definitely is not a fancy-schmancy place, and it's not supposed to be. So don't blame the place for being ridiculous in not having wine glasses when it never has and never will.

                      1. Given In N Out's recent decline, making the drive to Pasadena nowadays seems worth it. It is certainly not the best burger I have ever had. LA seems to have plenty of gourmet burgers but not as many "classic" or "simple" ones. If the kitch 50s diner decor is not a prerequisite, then try Rick's on Fletcher and Riverside; great burger without all the hype - but not the "BEST IN TOWN" by any means.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: blackbookali

                          i just tried this place as part of my boyfriend's burger sundays tradition (yeah, we're getting fat), but it had the weirdest taste. like sort of fishy, from the griddle. think it was an off day?

                          1. re: blackbookali

                            "In n Out's recent decline"? IMO it hasn't changed in the 20 some years I've been going there.

                            1. re: markn

                              The prices went up 10 cents, maybe that's the "decline"?

                          2. FYI, they DO cook your burger to order at Pie 'n' Burger. If you want it medium rare, just ask. They do it.

                            And really - what in the world were you expecting from a place called Pie 'n' Burger? Even if you hadn't read anything about it (and really, every thing you read talks about a classic lunch counter burger; the long counter, etc., so I have no idea why you were expecting white tablecloths and stemware), the name alone should suggest that it's not a palace of foie gras and tasting menus that happens to also serve a good burger.

                            1. Seriously...reservations and a bottle of wine? C'mon now! The place is what it is. A simple and no frills place to get a decent burger.

                              1. i'm a PNB fan. i don't think it's the best burger in the world, but i think it's one of the best in the SGV. i do like apple pan better.

                                reservations? ha!

                                cooked to order? always.

                                fries limp? order them well-done, or as another poster suggested to me, order the hash browns.

                                three inches of lettuce? pile it on!

                                wine/wine glasses? it's one of the reasons we go!

                                i've always been given stemware, but they often have a problem finding the wine opener, so i bring my own. i sometimes bring my own stemware too. you can usually only open a bottle if you buy it from the CHRONICLE WINE STORE in the rear. it's open when the american flag is flying from the rail. GUS is the main man there and is a jewel and institution; he has a fine palate.

                                haven't found a pie there i like yet.

                                1. but that's interesting, can one actually bring their own wine and drink it with a burger? does pie n burger charge for corkage? these are serious questions, not trying to be smart, it'll be our own version of thomas keller's soon arriving "ad hoc" burger/wine joint.

                                  does chronicle wine celllar also sell half bottles too?

                                  1. i think the official policy is that it should be from the CHRONICLE. mike osborne owns both. i don't know if they have a license. i know the CHRON doesn't, b/c they don't taste...officially. and no, there is no corkage.

                                    i've never tried to bring my own wine, but the sign at the register that says you can bring in wine from the CHRON seems clear to me along with all the wine bottles and wine specials posted.

                                    the CHRON has fine splits, but we usually buy a 750ml and spray or vacu-vin the rest...or we'll share it with our neighbors at the counter.

                                    bring your own opener or have them open it for you at PNB. i'd bring the stemware. sometimes, by the time the gals find'em for you, your burger's already up. it makes good use of the riedel you get at wine tasting events or wineries.

                                    the waitresses don't even flinch.

                                    1. I wish I could been there to listen Pi N Burger gals deal with this one. Reservations at a diner: awesome.

                                      1. I really like Pie & Burger, and I don't think it's expensive. It's a diner with higher labor costs than fast food joints. The burger is a gooey mess and that's why it rocks.

                                        I too would have given anything to see the look on the waitress's face when the wine was pulled out. I bet they're still chuckling at that.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Alimentary My Dear Watson

                                          posted before but later I thought about the ladies behind the counter too...One can just imagine the chuckles they had

                                        2. Next time, try something like 25 Degrees - a gourmet hamburger place. I'm sure they'll gladly take your reservations, your wine, and your made-to-order request.

                                          How you didn't get that P&B was a diner-style, super old-school joint by reading the 'hounds post is a little beyond me...

                                          1. Think Oinkster could be the best hamburger in the area now. 1/3 pound burger $4.75.


                                            1. I think the burger is very good, but not outstanding. And the fries aren't special in any way.

                                              But the hand-mixed sodas are delicious. The hash browns are good. The cinnamon rolls (breakfast only) are as good as any in Los Angeles.

                                              Some of the cream pies are very good. The olallieberry pie, when available, is one of the best desserts L.A. And the fresh peach pie is a national treasure. With a big wedge of vanilla ice milk, it's my favorite dessert in the county. It's so good that I usually drive a long way to get there and eat it, eventhough I've developed an allergy to peaches.

                                              1. Check out the double cheese at Yaniki's on Valley Blvd. east of the 605 frwy maybe 4 blocks. Damn good, I get it no lettuce and extra onion.

                                                1. can you describe yaniki's a little further? sounds interesting. fast food joint, or sit down?

                                                  1. uhhhh.....my goodness.
                                                    Pie 'n' burger is a fun little place. If you're in Pasadena for some reason, it's worth a stop but I wouldn't drive from Hollywood for it, let alone from Fountain Valley. As long as you were making that kind of drive, I'd say go to Bistro de la Gare which is a lovely and delicious place in South Pas. But Pie 'n' Burger.
                                                    Another place with a decent burger is one of the last burger stands in a corner of a parking lot - like the irv's burgers and Jay's J burger of old - The Great White Hut.
                                                    THE GREAT WHITE HUT
                                                    121 W CALIFORNIA AVE

                                                    But the ambience will make Pie 'n' burger look like L'Orangerie. It's a small stand, eight or nine stools- burgers and a few sides. Simple. I promise you no corkage though - but you'll have to bring your own stemware. For dessert you can walk across the parking lot to Porto's if you like.

                                                    Don't drive further than a few miles for this one though.

                                                    And to the OP, consider Father's Office and its burger in Santa Monica. Others can tell if they still make it. I think you may enjoy it more. But I wouldn't cross creation for it - wait until you have some other reason to be in Santa Monica.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Jerome

                                                      Hi Jerome... The wife and I frequently drove from Beverlywood to Pasadena, just for the Pie 'n Burger experience (at least before gas soared above $3 per gallon). Now, from the SFV, we do the same. Our folly, perhaps, but we really enjoy the goods there. Then again, we tend to enjoy most of the 'backlash burgers' like those at the Apple Pan and In 'n Out, too... As for your recco of Father's Office to the OP, can't imagine that would fly with them, as they stated above: "only done one way... just too fast foody to me..". I imagine the FO burger still comes just one way, with neither deletions, substitutions, nor additions ( no catsup)... But I will give The Great White Hut a try, as it's on the same street as my masonic lodge. Thanks...

                                                    2. the killer burger in pasadena worth a drive is at magnolia

                                                      492 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena 91101

                                                      here's a previous post:

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: revets2

                                                        magnolia, 50%off on Mondays!!!!! YAY!!

                                                      2. I am looking for a great diner with good shakes and good salad- and a good meatloaf! Can you think of any in West Los Angeles?

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: miffy

                                                          Is rae's on pico still around?

                                                            1. re: Jerome

                                                              YES- does Rae's also have salad? I am guessing they have milkshakes???

                                                              1. re: miffy

                                                                i think i've seen some green stuff there before.

                                                                yes on the milkshakes.

                                                                take note, cash only.

                                                                1. re: revets2

                                                                  I went there since the post- and they only had vanilla or strawberry for the milkshake flavors... a little down about that.. not even chocolate!

                                                          1. I too drove out to Pasadena to try P&B after reading the raves on Chowhound and elsewhere.

                                                            The service was DREADFUL and I thought the burger was mediocre.

                                                            Yet I thought the place was neat, and I'd go back (granted, if I were already in the area this time). Plus the fries were great that day.

                                                            1. burger? try parkway grill. yea more $$$ but if u want a nice burger, served with sweet potato fries and bleu cheese.....yummie....they also have a Kobe beef burger thats $20 served with garlic french fries too......

                                                                1. I'm also less than thrilled with P&B. Haven't tried Magnolia yet, but here are a three good burger alternatives, all within a mile from P&B.

                                                                  The Hat, North Lake Ave.
                                                                  Top's, Allen & Walnut.
                                                                  Both are very decent burgers in very ordinary surroundings.

                                                                  Houstons, Arroyo & Del Mar. Expensive, as burgers go, but theirs is no ordinary burger.

                                                                  1. The best burger for the money "in town" is Hamburger Hamlet, in my opinion. My favorite is now off the menu-- the "Caesar Burger." Yum, and not too expensive, thick patties. When they really do cook it to order (sometimes even if you say rare they cook it well done), it's heavenly! I live in the area, I like Pie N Burger, for me it's great as a very casual meal or for take out--I love their generosity in lettuce--my husband thinks it's no better than In N Out. You all should try the Grilled Chicken Sandwich!!!! Marinated, and yummy. expensive though.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: malisa

                                                                      Have to say that Hamburger Hamlet rolls a decent sandwich. My particular fave is the Cajun Burger with steak fries - I order the burger rare, and use the hot chile mayonnaise as a dip for the fries.

                                                                      As far as a trad cheeseburger is concerned, I really don't think P&B can be surpassed, if only because the patty is hand-formed from fresh meat and fried on a solid griddle, which is what I require of a truly good burger. Yes, I could do with about half an inch less of lettuce, but you know you can always tear that off yourself, can't you?

                                                                      1. re: malisa

                                                                        Yes, but I recall that SODAS are $2.50 WITH NO FREE REFILLS! At least at the CULVER CITY BRANCH. :(

                                                                      2. Seriously you’re out of your mind. Pie & Burger is the best dam burger in L.A. They have nothing to hide and I find the environment humbling, if you want glamour go somewhere else. This is how food used to taste when it was real, your taste buds have been corrupted by fake artificial flavors. Oh and by the way, next time you want to drink wine with your date, do it at home not at a restaurant. Who drinks wine @ a burger joint?

                                                                        1. Comm on Max, tell us what you REALLY think!

                                                                          1. Talk about 'yer nitpicking! The bun and patty were good but there was too much lettuce?

                                                                            Note for future reference, lettuce can be easily removed, or you can order your burger without it !!!

                                                                            1. pie and burger is good, their whipped cream topped fresh peach or strawberry pie slices in season are better.

                                                                              damnit, now i gotta wait until next summer.

                                                                              as a side note, their butterscotch pie is nothing special.