So Long, Apple Pan
Ask anyone where the best burger is to be had in LA and chances are someone’s going to say The Apple Pan, possibly out of personal taste, but just as likely out of a rote regurgitation of the popular consensus. Personally, I’ve always thought it was decent, but overrated, overpriced and inconsistent. Every other burger I’ve had there is sloppy and under cooked. Even when perfect, the flavor seems lacking and–forgive the sacrilege–on a good day, a Fatburger can come pretty close to an Apple Pan burger.
ScanningCounter Intelligence, one finds Jonathan Gold leaving the question of the food itself to the last of his four brief paragraphs on The Apple Pan–the first three of which are devoted to the restaurant history, floor plan, modus operandi and personal fond personal memories of it. This strikes me as the right 3-to-1 proportion of overall ambiance-to-food critiquing that one should bring to The Apple Pan. While his adjectives are positive, his praise of the food is somewhat restrained.
Obviously, the Apple Pan is about the experience. Always has been. But after the novelty of elbow-to-elbow jostling, sipping from a paper cone or having ketchup poured out for you wears off, you’re left with your $6.20 burger ($6.70 if you spring for cheese). Add on the requisite fries, coke, titular slice of pie and tip you’re pushing a 20 spot for what is essentially a fast food meal. And yes–thanks to Huell Howser, among other local cheerleaders–we all know how great they treat their employees, some of whom have been there decades and decades, but their prices push The Apple Pan Experience out of the range of too much of LA. Accordingly, on a typical weekend the place tends towards yuppies and Japanese tourists checking The Apple Pan off their guidebook list of sights. One gets the sense that not many of the daily commuters on the Super 7 Pico line (Rimpau to the ocean) hop off for a quick bite at The Apple Pan, which is unfortunate.
Since one of their marketing hooks is that they have not changed a thing since their opening in 1947, it follows then that a couple of well-spaced out visits are all one really needs here. I think I’m done with The Apple Pan, at least for a long while. Been there, done that and there’s too much out there to be discovered. But I went out on a strong note: the burger was one of the better ones I’ve had there.