Friday, March 26, 2010


        It was like eating the first hamburger ever invented. 
        It felt like the beginning.

        Walking through the double doors at Apple Pan is like stepping back in time. The street noise from Pico Boulevard gives way to the sound of sizzling meat and the excited chatter of local patrons. With wood paneling reminiscent of a lake house, and a U-shaped counter/bar with red twisting seats I felt like I’d been whisked from Los Angeles to a quaint diner overlooking Lake Tahoe during the days of John Muir and Roosevelt.
        I ordered the Hickory burger, with Tillamook cheese, fries and a rootbeer. (Rootbeer!) Samantha chose the Steakburger with Tillamook cheese and fries. Fries came out instantly; the missing evolutionary link between wedge cut and skinny fries. They were on the softer side, but looking around the diner I could tell other patrons’ were more well done. We loaded on the salt and our friendly server poured us mini-plates of ketchup to dip them in. Eating them, I felt like I was revisiting an old, familiar friend.
        Rootbeer came next, an ice-cold bottle of IBC, served next to a tin cup (kind of a cross between those little cups for hard boiled eggs that look like hour glasses and a bigger version of a bartender’s measuring cup) with a snow cone paper inside, filled with ice. Obviously, it was fantastically refreshing, and I think the tin kept it cold longer. It was the perfect compliment to the food, but even more so, to the vibe of the joint.
        After gorging on fries, our burgs came out. They were wrapped in little paper sacks with ketchup and cheese oozing out. I could taste the smoky hickory flavor with the first bite. They piled iceberg lettuce high inside of a soft white bun with a ketchup/hickory sauce and the textures contrasted well. Samantha’s Steakburger came with a special relish on it, that was good, but a little overpowering. Now pay attention: You’ve got to keep your burg in its little paper home, and just try to peel back enough paper for each bite, otherwise it will definitely slide to pieces. I ate the whole thing, quite happily, like a kid with ketchup smeared on the sides of her face.

         Aside from the burgs and fries the main thing on the menu (prices are higher than shown) is PIE: Apple, Pecan and the occasional Cream. Samantha and I chose to share a slice of Apple (our waiter cut it in half for us) and it was served so piping hot, the Thrifty ice cream was practically soup on the dish. A delectable treat.
        Service was fast and friendly. Each server had on a classic white uniform that you might see in pictures from the first carhops, and their pockets were neatly lined with Ticonderoga pencils. We arrived just before seven and only waited a minute or so for seats to open up. I spoke with one patron who had ordered take out, and he said he’d been coming to Apple Pan since he was three- basically, for forty years. It was definitely a locals-only joint, filled with friends, grandparents with grandkids and so forth. There were a few couples too and I have to say, it would be an excellent place for a date.
        They have two old fashioned cash registers at each corner of the bar, and they’re cash only. Not the cheapest old school burger, Samantha and I clocked in at $18 each, but learn from our mistake and share an order of fries. 

I felt like I wasn’t just paying for the food though; I was also paying for an hour of time travel.

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