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PiePasadena was on the horizon. I had the intention of coming back sooner after my last memorable trip to Oinkster and Galco’s Soda Shop years ago but I had had no business taking me that far east until my latest trade tasting had brought me within birds’ eye view of an historic eatery just in time for an early dinner.

In thirty minutes I had arrived at Pie ‘n Burger. From street view it was an authentic diner, not much to look at, showing its age and not many patrons. Almost deserted, I was wondering if I had the right place, I took a quick peek at my phone (5:15 PM) and waited for a friend to drive up before I would set food inside. I walked around the city blocks, passing time and was soon flanked by my buddy as we continued to do laps in Pasadena until the sun had set and it was a proper time to eat.

We seated ourselves center and counter side in the long, rectangular establishment. A cash-only venue, with a fairly limited menu that promised quality, we had an easy time deciding. Our waitress was alone, and by 6:30 PM they (patrons) were coming in in droves. It was no secret; Pie ‘n Burger had withstood a restaurant’s biggest test—time—and endured by serving up praiseworthy comfort food for fifty years.

'n BurgersIt took a few minutes (our waitress was in the weeds!) to put in the order but it was out in a dash, the two cooks working rhythmically before us to extinguish the rush.  The place filled up, no seats to speak of by the time our two cheeseburgers were plated.

Oozing with American cheese and an unkempt leaf of lettuce that obscured the seasoned patty and put the hefty smir of Thousand-Islands in perspective, it was evident that it would be messy. The fries were piping hot, recently fried, completing the coupling. A soft and creamy texture emerged between cheese and meat drowning out the pickle, onion and tomato fixings as the parchment folding did its part in keeping the juices contained and napkins to a minimum. There was harmony between the components, as it followed the signature diner recipe to a tee. Nice seasoning to the patty with sweetness from the sauce that worked in concert to make every bite a fraction better than that before.

As was my custom, when I could hardly move it was time to pile on the dessert. My God! that was a big slice of Dutch Apple pie with an insane dollop of whipped cream. Served warm, the cold whipped cream melted like an iceberg as it hit the counter. With vanilla and heartwarming spices playing against the gooey apple filling and flaky crust, drenched in sweet cream—each bite sensational. I was full from the cheeseburger but still managed to eat it all.

We cleared our plates and made room for eaters in the wings. By now (8:00 PM) the place had a lengthy queue and I could understand the wait—a fair burger and a delicious slice of pie for a reasonable sum awaiting all. We paid our bill at the antique register and left a decent tip for our over-worked waitress, exiting happier for having found the legendary Pasadena Burgery in full stride. I crossed one more place off the list and vowed to return to Pasadena soon, to see what other treasures had been hiding in plain sight.

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