A quintessential ’40s diner ambiance endures at this LA classic in West LA where efficient, long-tenured staffers dish out legendary hickory burgers, fabulous fresh cream pies and other back-in-time American eats from behind a U-shaped counter; it’s genuine nostalgia at its finest – and still a great deal. -Zagat
No gimmicks, no nonsense. This is THE Original, one and only prototype for all those old style burger joints. I scoured they planet for the best burgers and nothing else comes close to The Apple Pan. Just classic, basic burgers made the way they should be since the early 1900’s. Their recipes date back to the 1800’s for some of their items. The key to their success is the quality ingredients in everything they make and just doing it right. I can make a burger that might be “better” in some ways but I can’t reproduce the flavor of their proprietary burger patty blend and there is no need to because I just go there when I need that fix. Other burger places need gimmicks and marketing because they can’t just make a basic burger right to begin with.
Their pies are also divine. Made fresh everyday based on what’s in season. I never thought I liked Banana Cream Pie until I tried theirs but their Boysenberry Pie is my all time favorite.
The surprising thing is their other items like the Tuna sandwich and Ham & Cheese are also the best I’ve had anywhere. They come with a side of the plumpest, tastiest black olives and delicious pickles.
The Apple Pan is one of a few places that I will get around to reviewing that I consider a treasure to the culinary world.
The Apple Pan has been on my must-visit list as long as I’ve lived in this city, and I was thrilled to finally make the pilgrimage. As a disciple of my neighborhood Pie ‘n Burger in Pasadena, I was curious to see how this Westside rendition would compare.
I made a point of coming here mid-afternoon after a trip to the Wednesday Santa Monica farmers’ market and the pier, so there was plenty of room at the counter, as well as a prize parking spot in the lot. We were well taken care of throughout our meal, as I never saw the bottom of my coffee cup. My brother ordered a glass of buttermilk to try it out, and he was offered a do-over with no extra charge after it was sensed that he didn’t love it. This fabulous counter service is such a hallmark feature of the Apple Pan experience. It can’t be beaten.
The two of us split a hickory burger with cheddar and a plate of fries. While I’m pretty sure I prefer the fries at Pie ‘n Burger, which come piled higher and slightly less crisp (yes, I like my fries Five Guys-style), as well as with the option of chili on top, I can’t deny that the burgers here are pretty spectacular. The patties were soft and luscious, the lettuce crisp, and I enjoyed the barbecue sauce, though I wouldn’t want it on every burger I eat. Although I missed the In-N-Out style sauce and grilled onions available at Pie ‘n Burger, I think that the protein here was clearly superior.
However, the pie here falls incredibly short in my eyes. The banana cream here has been haunting me for months, looking incredible with all those layers of fruit and cream. But in practice, the flavor was incredibly standard and the custard a little gelatinous. And in all honesty, I very much missed the light meringue on the pies at Pie ‘n Burger and the bombass freshly whipped cream I always order there on the side. Apple Pan’s banana cream is tall and formidable but not at all as mindblowing as it looks.
I feel the same way about the coconut cream pie, which sits regal and thick but tastes mostly of artificially-flavored custard. This reminded me very much of the coconut cream at Philippe’s. Again, tasty but not at all special and just not that coconutty.
The apple pie was perhaps the most underwhelming. We ordered this warm with a scoop of ice cream, and it was rather bland, with under-spiced filling and a baseline-level flaky crust. The flavor and texture of this slice pretty much got lost under the vanilla ice cream. My favorite slice of apple pie in the city is the one at Langer’s with a buttery handmade crust and that delectable whiskey sauce. This slice paled in comparison. This might not be a fair juxtaposition except that this eatery has chosen to name itself the Apple Pan and feature its pies, and so it shall be judged against the gold standard in Los Angeles.
But lackluster pie is like lackluster pizza pie–still pleasing to eat even if it’s not your favorite. And I absolutely loved my meal at Apple Pan. While the food wasn’t quite everything I hoped it would be, it was every bit the experience I wanted. And perhaps I am breathing a sign of my relief that my favorite Pie ‘n Burger still has my favorite pie and burger.
Good burgers. There are many photos of the menu and burgers online. They’re good burgers. Everything’s from scratch, cooked fresh in front of you.
Service is always good, because the same folks have been working the counter for literally decades. I went here last week and recognized one of the servers from…my first visit, around 15 years ago. You order a burger, it comes out in a few minutes. Pie came out perfectly sub-divided, on separate plates for each of us! Made sharing super easy.
Ask about the pies of the day. The list changes daily.
All else I can add: seating is first-come first-serve, and there’s no written list. As you come in, try to keep track of who is in front of you, and who comes in later; everyone needs to help sort out who gets to sit first. If you jump the line, you will likely get called out for it. On this past visit, the line was 5-6 parties, ~15 people. No one jumped the line. Best to keep it that way.
I wish they’d just post a ream of paper by the door to keep a written list going. It would be less stressful.
I would urge you to check out The Burger Show’s Season 2, Episode 5, on Youtube. It shows some burger aficionados visiting the Apple Pan, what to expect, and has some useful tips on what to get.
LOVE the apple pan. I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid; over 20 years. It hasnt changed one bit. Matter fact, its hardly changed since inception in 1947. The recipes for delicious, fresh burgers and pies, great speedy service, the old manual cash register (cash only), and the guys working here. Many of them have worked the cozy counter for 25+ years and some have been around as long as 45 years! Its a small, counter style spot and its worth the wait for a seat. I highly recommend a hickory burger with cheese, crispy fries, a coke, and a slice of homemade apple pie; CLASSIC!
This place is a time machine. If you don’t mind waiting a little bit and being semi-assertive for a seat, you’ll step back to the 1950’s and it’s amazing. Burgers are great, fries are insane, and service is quick and to the point. Go during the week and not during lunch or dinner if you don’t want to wait. Three generations of family members have been coming here and I’ll take my kids here one day too. Hickory Burger, Fries, and a Coke. Is this heaven?
This is probably my favourite place to get a burger in the USA. The menu is basic, but they taste incredible. I also love the atmosphere and the staff are always fast, and happy to have a bit of a chat.
They cook facing you, and the experience is all diner style, so don’t expect to get your own table – it’s worth it for the food. The pie is also exceptional.
CASH Only at this location.
Apple Pan is so OG. It’s a long counter with about 30 seats and you just wait along the walls until you find an opening and sit down. Once there you find the menu nearby and order with the server who will come by. I got the steakburger with cheese and a side of fries. The fries came out first and they were prefect. Crispy on the outside and hot and airy on the inside. Add some ketchup and you are golden. The burgers came out shortly after. The meat was medium and the huge stack of lettuce was refreshing. It also comes with pickles and relish which, although great was a bit overwhelming for my taste. I will ask for no relish the next time I go. The meat was fresh with a bit of crust on the outer edges. Finally, I shared a slice of apple pie. Overall it was decent but I like the banana cream pie so much more. I’d choose that over the apple.
Some tips: Come after 9:30 to avoid the wait but still the wait isn’t too bad.