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Pie 'N Burger; old thyme SoCal

I have always been curious about this place in Pasadena, though I gather it's rather like Apple Pan which I really don't care for (good egg salad though). Still I'm interested in it as an icon for SoCal before the masses arrived. I'm not sure if that's really warranted but it seems to have that feel. I've stopped in on a couple occasions but left, thinking the food didn't actually look all that good. Now, for some reason, I'm cogitating that stupid place again; it's under my skin. Yet I don't really eat hamburgers either, which is also part of the problem!

So my question is: is there anything else on the menu there worth ordering, or would that just defeat the "purpose" of the place anyway? Do they, for example, have turkey burgers or again, are they just so derivative that it's pointless to order that?

By way of example, I'd say Apple Pan's egg salad is sufficiently interesting, tasty and an arguably good deal (relatively), that it is in fact worth arguing and is in fact iconic -- that is, you don't really lose from the "authenticity" of the visit by ordering that. I hope these thoughts aren't annoying you all...

Anyway, that's my question: is it "worth" going to PieNBurger if you order anything other than "Burger"; what would you order if so? And also, I'd welcome suggestions to tone down expectations if necessary as I've come to believe enjoyment is not in the least ways insignificantly tempered by expectation so there's no point in erecting insurmountable barriers before ever you start.

Thanks for reading this far.

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  1. Having lived around the corner for 15 years, I frequented it pretty regularly. I, personally, like the burger (grilled onions, extra cheese) - note: it does not come with tomatoes. I could definitely do without the fries and chili. I do like their tuna melt and hash browns. Pies are great (my fave is coconut cream). They make their own dressings so I like their dinner salad as well with their Thousand (they also put this on their burgers). One more note about the burgers, do not unwrap unless absolutely, positively necessary - they do and will fall apart on you!

    2 Replies
    1. re: WildSwede

      One of my favorite nonburger meals there is that tuna and some potato salad, which I truly adore. It's not only (maybe) a healthier alternative to fries, it's a tastier one.

      I'm not really a pie person, but I split a piece of the butterscotch with Mrs. O last time we were in there together, and it was sinfully good. Better than Mom's.

      1. re: Will Owen

        You two are making me hungry for this place. The burgers look to good to eat and they are great. That tuna melt sounds great and the last time I ate there the guy next to me had a tuna salad which has been on my mind ever since. The hash browns are always golden brown and crispy outside and moist inside. The bacon is perfect. IMO, they make the best pancakes in L.A. -- thick and fluffy or thin and chewy (I always get the thin kind). The pecan pie is great also.

        IMO, they should not offer a "Turkey sandwich" because what they gave me looked bad, smelled bad and it was bad. They re-fried cooked turkey until it was brown and dry. We could not tell if it was beef or turkey -- so bad!

    2. Pie.

      Seriously, they do make great pies. I order an apple pie slice a la mode, which they define as a pint of vanila ice cream on top. Other people on boards can speak to other flavors or search.

      1 Reply
      1. re: overresearched

        Second, the pie is pretty damn good.

      2. although i never had it people seem to enjoy the pancakes there. i believe they're the thin kind...i've had the regular breakfast there and it's very standard. nothing to write home about...

        1. My wife & I ate here on Wed. night after a evening at the Huntington. I love the burgers, but I have to add my appreciation of some other items:
          French Fries

          1. The burgers and pies are excellent, but it's the hash browns that take me back to "old thyme SoCal." Those potatoes -- you can get a full or half order -- remind me of when Russell's was Russell's.

            2 Replies
            1. re: sbritchky

              "when Russell's was Russell's." Such good times at the Seal Beach location and the West Covina Mall location -- both gone. The remaining Pasadena location is off my list because of the poor management / seating / service. My family lked those big thick sausages and the hash browns. Now The Swing Inn in Temacula is the place for that combo and they have a great Chicken Fried Steak. But yes, Pie N Burger has the hash browns and some great beacon.

              1. re: JeetJet

                Don't forget those Russell's pies, JJ, with their great, towering meringues. I once took a full coconut meringue -- in an oversize cake box that wouldn't close completely, because the topping was so high -- on a flight to Texas, and the aroma drove my fellow passengers crazy. My favorite Russell's location was the one in Bixby Knolls, Long Beach.

                The Swing Inn in Temecula, eh? I've heard of that place but haven't been there. I will have to correct that error soon (assuming they've fixed the sink hole on the 215, that is).

            2. Asking if there's anything else worth trying other than the burger at a place named Pie 'N Burger !?!? That's sum pretty funny stuff.

              1. You really should try the burger. It's the only way to truly enjoy the place. But, if you are totally opposed, try the pancakes and hash browns. Really nice. Oh, and you can't leave without trying the pie.

                1. Burgers are like assh_les ... everyone has one and everyone has an opinion about one.

                  So whether the burger is worth it or not, is really a personal thing.

                  That said, PnB has some outstanding non-burger items, some of which have already been mentioned, but I'll just reiterate again:

                  - Potato salad.
                  - Hash browns
                  - Any of the cream pies

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Let's try that again...

                    "Opinions are like a$$holes. Everybody's got one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks."

                  2. The pies are great, I had a fab coconut cream pie there I still remember. I don't like their burgers myself (too much "sauce" on it for me), but to each his own. In the never-ending debate "Apple Pan or Pie N' Burger", I prefer the burger at Apple Pan, and the pies at P&B.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bad nono

                      Double cheeseburger, with bacon and raw onion.
                      1/2 order of fries.
                      1/2 order of hash browns.

                      Love this place.

                    2. agreed re great tuna, get it on toast, or the melt, and my pie-of-choice is the ollalieberry (available in summer, ...i think beginning late June but can't quite recall).

                      ...the service is always amusing, with staff being cheerful, or, then again, moody, or perhaps hyperkinetic, or psycho, or all of the above, or any combination thereof.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Local

                        You nailed the service-- All over the board.

                        1. re: JeetJet

                          yep, totally unpredictable... but that's part of their charm.

                          1. re: Local

                            And it is all the same servers who are totally unpredictable. Charm might be the best word because what you get is the "real" them as opposed to the plastic smile that you might get at so m any other places. This place is like family. Sometimes you all get along and then at other times..... Going there is like going home.

                            1. re: JeetJet

                              exactly...well said ...truly the human comedy.

                      2. We lived a couple of blocks from Pie 'n Burger for 8 years and enjoyed it mainly for an old fashioned breakfast. Mostly we sent the kids and their friends there to get them fed and out of the house on Saturday mornings. But we didn't really care for the hamburgers or fries. None of us in the family could figure out the old time Pasadena dwellers fascination with the burgers, or with the pies, or the place (it always smelled greasy to us and maybe needed a good cleaning?) for that matter. There is a very good wine dealer who works out of the back, though. And it's a convenient social place for the neighborhood people, especially those with children.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: dumas

                          Can you say specifically what you don't like about these somewhat loose, rather thin patties? That's the recipe for a good burger and the major reason that I like PNB's. There are few better restaurant pies, IMHO, than at Babe's BBQ in Rancho Mirage -- the remaining member of a former small chain -- but PNB's are very good, their strength being in the filling, whereas Babe's have merely excellent (fruit) fillings and an incredible, flaky, sugary crust.

                          1. re: sbritchky

                            I can tell you that Mathew Broderick is a huge fan of PnB's thin patty burgers.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Why do people say the patties are thin? IMO they are regular size as opposed to thick or thin (same rating system as pizza crust). I would also say tender as opposed to loose. As for Mathew Broderick, he has good taste. I wonder what slice of pie he orders because I notice that he is not as thin as he was years ago and is now more toward the -- regular size.

                              1. re: JeetJet

                                They're "rather thin" compared to the "gourmet" burgers that so many of us hate. Incidentally, if Matthew Broderick is related to Broderick Crawford, then his lack of thinness is to be expected. 10-4!

                                1. re: sel

                                  Ferris Bueller -- the Sausage King of Chcago.

                                  Colonel Robert Gould Shaw.. "Forward, Fifty-Fourth Forward!"

                                  You might have been confused because Broderick is not "huge" and PnB's patty is not "thin." They are both "Regular size." The tuna salad is almost huge with a good amout of white tuna on top of the salad.

                                  Over and out.

                            2. re: dumas

                              "(it always smelled greasy to us and maybe needed a good cleaning?)" And you found that to be a bad thing, I'm assuming. Well, we don't all think that's a bad thing. Some of us think of it as Patina. If a nice old greasy spoon doesn't smell like a greasy spoon, I'm frankly not attracted to it. To itch his own...

                            3. Mmmmm...Pie'N Burger!

                              No, it's not a "gourmet" burger, just plain, old-fashioned WASPchow, and yes, the potato salad beats the fries hands down.

                              Now, about that pie...if they have it, try the peanut butter. A slab of heaven on a plate!

                              1. OK, I'll report back. We didn't try the peanut butter pie. Or the ice cream or the cream pies. But we really did enjoy the pumpkin and the blueberry. And then witnessing all those fries going back and forth we succumbed to a plate of fries in the end as well. As many mention here, they didn't sadly live up to the promise of their appearance or the promise of the deliciousness of the pies! I have to say I really enjoyed my pie far, far more than I expected. In contrast with the fries, I thought the pies looked pretty dubious, but tasted way-yummier than anticipated. They were perhaps the best non-crunchy-granola pies (which, at the end of the day, I still prefer) I've had. It's a certain style and it was just great. Far, far better, for example and IMHO, than Apple Pan's (which isn't hard to accomplish unfortunately). But what's with their whipped cream? We asked for a little on the side and I'm glad it wasn't left to spoil the main fare: that whipped cream was *disgusting*. Is that cool whip or did they somehow manage to make real stuff taste artificial? Wow.

                                Anyway, thanks to you-all I did finally get there and I am very, very glad to have had the experience. What a scene ... and what delicious pies.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: aliris

                                  Thanks for reporting back...it's always great to hear how things turn out.

                                  One question: Why didn't you ask your server about the whipped topping?