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Burger Crawl - Pasadena Area

I've a friend coming to visit this fall and he mentioned being interested in doing a week-long burger crawl, so I'm putting together a list of places we need to hit, preferably in the Pasadena area (we'll go to Oinkster, though).

Restrictions: Pasadena area (will go a ways east and south, if needed) - no "fancy" burgers (no blue cheese - a bbq/bacon burger is pushing things) - prefer counter service and shack-type places - no chains unless they're local (In-n-Out's fine, Islands isn't) - prices under $8.00 or so for a burger/cheeseburger.

Would like to know what restaurants you'd recommend, what you'd recommend ordering there, any incredible sides, and if they'll grill to order (medium-rare) (if they won't, that's okay too, just would like to know). Oh, and we'll probably have to try one of those taco-burger things that JeetJet mentioned on another thread.

I hate to admit this, but I've lived here now for three years and the only burger-type place I've tried is Oinkster - I know I need to try Tommy's, Rick's, Lucky Boy, etc. but am not even sure where to start.

I'm already salivating - thank you!

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  1. Ricks in Alhambra is good. ( Off Main)

    Ricks in Pasadena ( if its still around) Note i don't beleive this and the alhambra one are related. I forgot the street. Walnut Grove i think.

    Jim's in Arcadia/Monrovia border off duarte and 6th. Ho many High School memories here.

    Wolfe Burgers on Lake -- This is still on my to do list so I cna't really tell you how they are but I've heard good things.

    Tops- There are multiple locations i know one is on colorado and another is on Allen i think.

    Connels on Washington.

    Hat is more pastrami but their burgers are decent. Try the Pastramiburger actually if you don't mind the heart attack.

    Clearmans Northwoods at lunchtime -- Normally I would point you at the boat but its not there atm. Northwoods is serving Boat food at lunchtime though while they reconstruct it.

    Tommy's is overrated imo- All the pple i know who love it it seems like more a nostalgia thing. Also, if this is your first time bring some tums.

    Edit: Adding Jakes in Old Town-- Little more pricey, a little better quality. i don't go often but its good when i do go ( ususally late after a night of drinking and not much open)

    I know there are more but I'm drawing a blank atm. Anyways thats a good jumpoff imo

    10 Replies
    1. re: Mando

      Tommy's is legendary, as the only joint open at 2:00 A.M. when the bars close, and if you are already pickled, you won't notice how bad the food is.

      1. re: ChinoWayne

        Lies! the Tommy's in Pas closes at like 10:30 unless they recently changed it I've tried before and been shot down. Had to drive to the Eagle Rock one. Besdies I'm probably biased as i grew up on hat ( my buddies and i disagree for hours between the 2)

        Besides King Taco is open past 2 on weekends. Just don't park on the street past 2 -_-

        1. re: Mando

          The original Tommy's at Beverly & Rampart in L.A. is open all night, and it is the model for all the subsquent branches, regardless of what time they close, they all serve the same nasty food.

          The only "charm" of Tommy's is the fact that they have food readily available when everything else is closed and you have been on a bender and your taste buds have been numbed, which I will concede might be quite appealing to someone who wants to "live dangerously".

          1. re: ChinoWayne

            yea the one in Eagle Rock is open 24/7 as well. Its not horrible, my friends love it .. then again my friends love olive garden and other various chains i fight against every time someone has a bday... We had some friends from out of town who wanted to try it since the other guys talked it up so much. Needless to say it broke everyone's stomach for like 2 days (present company included).

      2. re: Mando

        Don't forget the Hi Life (I wonder if you drink a Miller beer with it if you would be having a Hi Hi Life Life?)

        1326 Fair Oaks Ave
        South Pasadena, CA 91030
        (626) 799-5401

        1. re: Servorg

          HI-Life is great, esp. the pastrami burger.

          1. re: Servorg

            I'm still laughing at this, thanks.

            Great rec - they also have/had (totally artificial) cherry soda, which to me is the best accompanyment to a cheeseburger and fries.

          2. re: Mando

            Nice list, Mando! Rick's in Pasadena (Walnut & El Molino) is still there at least through the end of the year (altho I am not a fan of their burgers - prefer their tacos & tostadas). Tops has really good burgers - Allen & Walnut (their tosada salad is fantastic - along with those zucchini sticks w/ranch!). If you go to Clearman's, don't forget to get some of their cheese bread (I MISS THE BOAT!!). If you do Wolfe's, be sure to get the onion rings - cooked well done - the onions become melty - delish!

            1. re: Mando

              Jim's on the Arcadia/Monrovia border was the first thing that came into mind when I read this post. I'm there often when I'm hankering a burger. Their sides come in huge portions-I'd recommend the fried zucchini. Helmos on Baldwin in Arcadia is pretty good too and definately shack like. There's a place in Monrovia on Duarte Rd. called Burger Basket that I've never tried but my friend recommended it to me. Other recommendation would be Top's they've added a Kobe Bistro Burger to their menu so it seems like they're trying to get a bit fancier. Happy hamburgering!

              Jim's Famous Quarterpound
              Address: 915 W Duarte Rd, Arcadia, CA 91007
              Phone: (626) 447-5993

              Helmos Burger
              Address: 1045 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007
              Phone: (626) 447-2511

              Tops Drive-In
              (626) 449-4412
              3838 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA www.theoriginaltops.com/

              Burger Basket
              (626) 357-3514
              501 W Duarte Rd, Monrovia, CA

              1. re: crystaw

                The Kobe at Tops is GREAT!

                Burger Bsket no longer has that special char-burger machine. Thus they no longer have a good burger. In fact, their burger is now sooooo bad.

            2. The burgers at The Hat are not too bad, and they have outstanding fries and rings.

              I think Hamburger Hamlet is a little out of the criteria you set, but you can't beat their burgers, and you can also get schooner of beer there. Mmmmm, burgers and beer...

              The burger at Canadian Cafe is pretty good, and you can get poutine to go with your burger.

              The Hat
              491 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

              Diron's Canadian Cafe
              125 E Colorado Blvd, Monrovia, CA 91016

              Hamburger Hamlet
              214 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChinoWayne

                A shot of the poutine at Canadian Cafe.

              2. I second Wolfe Burgers and Tops. These would be my first choices for a burger in Pasadena, but it's a very large field. Possibly more burger joints there than in any other L.A. Co. city other than L.A. or Long Beach.

                Does Olympic Burger still exist? I think it is on Foothill east of Altadena. Used to go all the time in high school.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cant talk...eating

                  I like Wolfe Burgers but this past weekend's trip was meh.... their zucchini fries and onion rings were good... their big bad wolfe burger and their roast beef, not so good. It surprised me.

                2. I didn't see PIE N BURGER on the list. It is the only burger I drive to Pasadena for (on the way to Bulgarini Gelato, natch).


                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Marco Polo

                    I second the recommendation for Pie N Burger. Definitely, in my opinion, the top burger joint in the Pasadena area.

                    1. Yanakis on Valley Blvd just 3 or 4 blocks east of the 605 frwy, Great Burger!
                      Never been but i hear it is a must try once in Altadena, Hawkins House of Burgers! Get the Super Duper $13 feeds a family of 4 one! Chow down baby!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Burger Boy

                        Yes Hawkins is a FANTASTIC burger, BUT do not send ElsieDee out for that giant burger if she's only going with one other person!

                        Hawkins House of Burgers
                        2664 Fair Oaks Ave, Altadena, CA 91001

                      2. As a New Yorker who...a, loves burgers and b, is coming to L.A. in three weeks for a two week visit, you caught my eye. I will be staying in Rosemead and will be in Pasadena for a friends book signing , so I will check out the local stands, hopefully a drive in or two. Last visit I hit all the usual suspects,,,the Beverly Tommys, Astro Burger in East Los and In and Out Burger,,,all good with Tommy's my favorite for the food and ambience. Will update after my latest visit,,,thanks!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: willie b

                          I am a transplanted NewYorker living in Pasadena. You must go to Pie and Burger. IT is really fantastic

                          1. re: italiana3

                            Hi Italiana3 Living here in Queens(Woodhaven) and spending my weekends down at Tony's on Mulberry Street, people always take me for Italian...maybe it's the escarole and bean soup I have on the stove now! Being adopted I may never know the real deal but if so... That's life, kid named Frankie did that song ddn't he? They say if you are Italian you must be Sicilian.. I told this particular person thanks for the compliment..and speaking of thanks, Thank you for the recommendation and I will certainly give it a try.

                        2. Lots of good suggestions already, let me just throw a few more into the pile:

                          T Burgers (in Monrovia).
                          Get the Bacon, Avocado, Cheeseburger. They also have a Chicken Fried Steak sandwich.

                          Pharos Burgers (in Alhambra)
                          Solid all around burger and they have really good ranch dressing.

                          T Burgers
                          226 W. Foothill Blvd.
                          (626) 357-4844

                          Pharos Burger
                          1129 N Garfield Ave
                          (626) 284-2800

                          3 Replies
                          1. The two of you will be crawling at the end of that week. This is a short list for places either in or near Pasadena. Below is a like to my recent post on the new Tops Kobe Burger. Also, notice that the Boat’s burger is being served during the lunch hiors at the North Woods Inn for the same price as in was at the Boat – $4.75? When eating that burger you must also order the salad and cheese bread and a large beer. Tryst me, life will be good! I included that Taco Bell in El Monte with the Bell Burger (Taco burger) and another good char-burger at Flames X-Press in El Monte. I agree with the post above for the Pie 'n Burger and they also do pancakes right.

                            Note, there are several “Tops” but only one original "Tops"and it is located on Colorado Blvd between Rosemead Blvd. And Michillinda.. The other Tops are not owned by the same people. The food at these other Tops can be good but it is a little different than the Colorado location. I do not know whether the other Tops offer Kobe Burgers, and even if they do if it would be as good as the Colorado location. .

                            My Tops post – Kobe burger at the original Tops on Colorado

                            Tops (Kobe cheese burger, fries, deep fried zucchini, pastrami, asada or chicken totasda)
                            3838 E Colorado Blvd (Between Rosemead Blvd. And Michillinda)
                            Pasadena, CA 91107-3940
                            (626) 449-4412

                            Pie 'n Burger (Burgers & Pie)
                            913 E. California Blvd.
                            Pasadena, CA 91106
                            (626) 795-1123

                            Clearman's Galley (Aka, The Boat) Chili cheese burger and get the large glass of ice cold beer, During construction the Boat’s menu is offered at the North Woods Inn M-F until 4:00 pm)
                            7247 Rosemead Blvd.
                            San Gabriel, CA
                            (626) 286-8284

                            Flames X Press (Charbroiled Double Cheese burger with a House-made Thousand island, Chili Fries with Pastrami - I would pass on their asada.
                            11003 Lower Azusa Rd (Corner of Santa Anita)
                            El Monte, CA 91731
                            (626) 350-7500

                            Taco Bell (Bell Burger, also known as Bell Beefer)
                            4134 N. Peck Rd.
                            El Monte, CA 91734
                            (626) 442-0840
                            North of Romona Blvd.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: JeetJet

                              I second that about Tops on Colorado. The one on Walnut in Pasadena is not as good.

                              1. re: JeetJet

                                >Clearman's Galley (Aka, The Boat)< I stopped by for a burger for old times sake. I used to grab a burger there when I was in college after fly fishing for trout up on the San Gabriel River. It was only a boat then and you sat outside. I had to chuckle when I told the guy at the register that story and he said “Yes, they had been open since ‘73.“, since I was in college in the ‘60s. I wonder how long The Boat has been there?

                                1. re: BN1

                                  Acording to The Boat’s web site "The boat" was originally launched in 1913 as a mail-service vessel between San Francisco and Alaska. John Clearman brought it to San Gabriel in 1968, where it became a hamburger stand with patio seating.” http://www.clearmansrestaurants.com/g...

                                  In the waiting area of the North Woods Inn there are artist renderings of the new wharf style architecture planed for the new adjoining dinning rooms for “The Boat.” There is a projected date of “Fall of 2007" for the opening of the New home of The Boat.

                                  Don’t forget that The Boats chili cheese burgers are still served as part of a limited Galley menu on offer at lunchtime at the North Woods Inn in San Gabriel.

                                  1. re: JeetJet

                                    Thanks for the history lesson! I will need to get over there to look at the plans. I loved the feel of The Boat. It was such fun to go there and watch all the games - and that cheese bread!! ;-)

                              2. Hi,

                                No one's mentioned it yet, but I like the burger at Wild Thyme, on Fair Oaks in South Pasadena. You can actually get it rare! Yum! On grilled sourdough, with jack cheese, mushrooms, avocado, it's one of my favorites...


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Michelle

                                  The problem for me with the Wild Thyme burger is the sourdough bread ... the strong taste of the bread acts like an unwanted guest at a private nudist party.

                                2. Tommys...in Eagle Rock
                                  Tommys...in Burbank
                                  Tommys...on Beverly Rampart
                                  Tommys...in my lap in the front seat of my car
                                  Tommys...on Laurel Canyon
                                  Tommys...in Van Nuys
                                  Tommys..in the passanger seat.
                                  Tommys...in my tummy....yum.
                                  However, WildeSwede has not been wrong and I guess I need to try Pie and Burger.
                                  Tommys..after drinking.
                                  Tommys...before the hangover kicks in.
                                  Tommys...before the UCLA vs USC game at 10am.
                                  Astro Burger.
                                  Have fun!

                                  Oh, and that new place YORK in Highland Park...ther burger was really good the other night...even better without the pickeled onions.
                                  It's a bar, with great beers...it's sit down but not fee-fee-she-she-ya-ya.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: tatertotsrock

                                    Hi Tater! When you go to Pie N Burger - stay away from the fries and chili, blah. I stick with the cheeseburger, med rare (add grilled onions) - note that their burger does not come with tomato (also keep it in the wrapper as long as you can, since the second you take it out and take a bite, it will fall apart!!). Their hash browns are good (cooked well done) and their pies are great - I love the coconut cream one!! Enjoy!

                                    1. re: WildSwede

                                      The fries are pretty good if you order them well done and ask for a side of their homemade blue cheese dressing. Healthy? No. But good.

                                      1. re: mattesq

                                        Yeah, I just can't get past 'em (I always order fries (and pizza) well done.

                                        1. re: WildSwede

                                          If you don't like the fries, that's not really tragic - get the potato salad instead. Best in town, after mine...!

                                      2. re: WildSwede

                                        Thanks WildSwede,
                                        Esp about the fries since I think you've become aware of my Chili frie probelm-I will be indulging in fries again at YORK tonight...yum.
                                        Next week, the Pie n Burger since Sunday, I already hit my TACO quota at Rick's Drive thru on Fletcher..mmm

                                    2. Is Downtown LA too far? I love the burgers at King's BBQ by Dodger stadium. I believe it's at the intersection of Cesar Chavez and Figueroa. It's right off the freeway so shooting down the 110 from Pasadena it shouldn't take you more than 15 minutes (with no traffic). The burgers are huge and really tasty. But be warned, it does take awhile.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: bigtums

                                        Do they have a website?

                                        Addendum: Never mind. Found it: http://texasbbqking.com/

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          They say that they grill the burgers under the ribs so the drippings from the ribs go on to the patty. Their chili is good too. I wouldn't bother with the ribs.

                                        2. re: bigtums

                                          I had one of their one-pound burgers awhile back. It took about 40 minutes and was dry as a bone. I wouldn't try again. And they charge you extra for BBQ sauce.

                                          Try Troy Burgers & Donuts in Monrovia(on Myrtle, just South of Duarte)

                                        3. Oh, I do so adore y'all.

                                          I'm in the process of compiling the crawl list - and salivating while doing so. I've been "saving" the Kobe Burger at Tops for the crawl, but think that plan will be falling by the wayside later this afternoon (gotta try it first to see if it's worth a stop, right?).

                                          Anyway, three places not mentioned here that I have questions about - any feedback is appreciated (as far as adding them to the itinerary is concerned).

                                          1 - Lee's Hoagie House, Pasadena - I know they offer a Hoagie burger/cheeseburger and a Frisco burger - any good?

                                          2 - B-Man's Teriyaki and Burgers, San Gabriel/Pasadena - I seem to recall a recommendation for their ABC burger? Yay or nay?

                                          3 - Super Burger, Pasadena (corner of Altadena and Villa) - drove by here this morning, looks like it's been open for eons, any recommendations?

                                          B-Man's Teriyaki & Burgers
                                          3007 Huntington Dr Ste 102, Pasadena, CA 91107

                                          Super Burger
                                          458 N Altadena Dr, Pasadena, CA 91107

                                          Lee's Hoagie House
                                          2269 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ElsieDee

                                            I've been to B-Man's once a long time ago. I had a burger and I remember it being decent but not memorable. The curry fries are what come to mind when I think of B-Man's!

                                          2. Wolfe Burgers on Lake -- Since I've tried it, I'm a regular. A must visit.

                                            Hat is more pastrami but their burgers are decent. Try the Pastramiburger actually if you don't mind the heart attack. -- Head down to Valley and garfield to their original location. It's a shack with a patio in the back. Open late. The Pastramiburger is to die for or you will die for eating it. But off topic, you have to go back and get a fresh order of chili fries.

                                            Clearmans Northwoods at lunchtime -- That's a pretty good burger, shame your missing the boat. OLD SKOOL.

                                            Tommy's -- You have to go all the way to Alvarado and Beverly to the original location. The satellite locations all suck!

                                            Edit: Adding Jakes in Old Town-- Jakes is good, last of the Old Town Pasadena ORIGINALS! The Porn shop and the Pawn shop are the last stores of the bad old days.

                                            Try Pharoh's at the corner of Atlantic and Garfield where Alhambra ends and San Marino South Pasadena begin. Family owned and operated, the brothers are UCLA alumni and I think they'll cook to order. The double cheese bacon burger kicked my butt the only time I ordered it.

                                            I'm surprised no ones mentioned HAWKINS house of burgers. In Trashadena all the way up fair oaks. They got a burger called the HAWKINS you won't believe it when you see it. Look it up on these boards.
                                            Hawkins Burgers
                                            2664 Fair Oaks Ave
                                            Altadena, CA 91001

                                            1 Reply