Sunday, December 12, 2004

the apple pan

damn straight!

first, an open apology to reid and to the apple pan: dude, i did have a burger when i was in town, and an apple pan burger to boot. to forget is a crime--their burgers are so good.

the apple pan is small brick and wood cottage nestled amongst the anonymous fast food and coffee franchises that line pico blvd, across from the westside pavilion. open since 1947, it hasn't changed much during the years; when you walk inside, it's like stepping back into time, but not like in a johnny rockets/ed debevic's sort of way--it's shabby, it's badly lit, the counter men are grumpy as all get out, and whatever you do, don't look to closely at the floor behind the grill. having said that, i gotta say i love everything about it. when you walk in, you are faced with a u-shaped counter that surrounds the grill that dominates the space. there is only enough room behind one of the dozen and a half seats for person to stand behind you (and a person will, as there is always a wait), and only enough room between the counter and the grill for a counter man to slap down a menu. there's not much to order from the apple pan, but what there is is pretty darned good: burgers, hickory burgers (burgers with a slosh of really good barbecue sauce), burgers with tillamook cheddar, hickory burgers with tillamook cheddar. tuna, egg salad, or ham and swiss on rye. fries. pie. don't ask for anything not on the menu, 'cause yer just gonna get dead silence or a mouthing off, depending on how grumpy your counter man is. yeah, they are grumpy. eh. i don't mind (secretly, i get a thrill from trying to get them to soften up, but you have to approach it verrrry carefully. they don't like that).

i've been going here since my college days, but it was only recently that i started ordering the burgers--i am a big fan of their tuna and egg salad sandwiches, and i'm not the only one. but the reason why there's always a wait no matter what time of day it is is the burgers. so impressive they don't even come on a plate, and they stand up on their own. your burger comes to you minutes after you order it, cooked exactly as you want it, moist, flavourful, meaty and delicious. maybe a little too much lettuce, so ask them (nicely) to go easy on it. i got the hickory burger this time, with a (paper) plateful of their hot-from-the-fryer french fries. people will tell you not to bother as the burger is substantial enough, but the fries are so crispy and piping hot, they are worth loosening your belt for.

oh yeah. loosen that belt a little more for the pie. the night i went, they were all out of their so-impressive-the-joint-is-named-after-it apple pie, that is at least six inches tall, and filled with warm, cinnamony chunks of apple in the flakiest imaginable crust. if it's available, get a slice a la mode, as the vanilla ice cream will melt into the warm apple-y filling and create a gorgeous river of cream. i got a couple of slices of pie to go--the pecan, which is really good, and not cloyingly sweet as some can be, and my personal fave-rave from here, the coconut cream pie. it's a ginormous slice of fresh vanilla pudding, mounds of whipped cream, and toasted coconut on the thinnest, flakiest, butteriest crust imaginable. in fact, the apple pan embodies the word "crusty" in every possible way, but in every way it endears itself to me.

quality forever!

the apple pan
10801 w pico blvd
los angeles 90064


Anonymous said...

Santos - Thanks to yourself and Reid I now know what a real burger should look like and taste like. My question is, are really good burger joints so rare in the states that folk are forced to hit the likes of Mickey D's for a hit? Given a choice between this and the usual at the Golden Arches, Apple Pan and In 'n' Out win - no contest..


Reid said...

Hi Santos,

Glad you finally decided to 'fess up to having a burger on your recent sojourn to LA. This looks so yummy I can just taste that hickory flavored barbecue sauce just oozing out of the burger and onto my chin!

If you had a choice, would it be here or Carney's?

santos. said...

hey pieman

i think that burger shacks are a rare breed indeed. there's one in la called irv's burgers that's fighting to survive (paragraph 8). has a good article on that story and the death of the hamburger stand. the closest one to me, mo' better meatty meat burgers should've been kept open for the name alone (although they did have great burgers. if you could wait a month to get them.). ironically, in 'n' out burgers are supposedly based on the apple pan burgers, but i imagine that eventually in 'n' out will drive out the smaller businesses.

hey reid

i only remembered i went to apple pan when i had a fast food burger that truly sucked (carl's jr btw--too many fillers, it's like soylent green or something). normally i don't think i'd have noticed, but i recalled having a really good burger somewhere and duh, of course it wasn't on guam. although there's a greasy spoon here that has good burgers. i think. i'll have to revisit it to make an opinion ;-)
as for carney's vs apple pan--apple pan wins, if only because it's been a decade since i've been to carney's. that's another place i need to revisit.
i have to say, though, if i'm going for all out greasy goodness of a chili burger, tommy's on beverly and rampart would be the spot. it's a dangerous location, where most people go in the middle of the night, and there have been shootings there. but the most dangerous thing might be their burger--it even smells like a heart attack. if i'm gonna play fast and loose with my health, i might as well go all the way. oh yeah, their chili dogs are pretty good too.

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting piece in th LA Times, thx for the link. That guy's book cataloguing burger stands sounds exactly my kinda reading. I wish my Vietnamese lingo skills didn't suck so much, I'd love to get under the skin of some of the street sellers I meet in Saigon to really document their lives and cuisine. As it is, I can only tease out a few basic facts... Oh well, can't do everything eh?


Anonymous said...

You need to know the pies and fries have loads of lard in them.

santos. said...

lardy me, good to know, good to know. thanks for the expansive tip, anon.