I grew up in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia, then lived in Center City – downtown Philly for those not from these parts – for 15 years before moving out to Delaware County, which is southwest of the city, in 2012. We did so for logistical reasons having to do with my wife’s commute to where she worked at that time, but I was also ready for a change from city life.
While I am not nuts about the often insane amount of congestion on the roads around here and would prefer to be closer to my friends and family, most of whom live north of the city, Delaware County has a lot more classic old food joints than the northern suburban area where I grew up. If you want a good cheesesteak or burger from a non-chain restaurant with many years of experience, the options in these parts are plentiful.
And no burger joint is more classic than Charlie’s, of Folsom, PA. They’ve been serving up burgers and shakes since 1935. Although I have to say they no longer look the part of a classic hole-in-the-wall burger establishment since moving to a new location, their third in the past 86 years. The new spot is in a small shopping center, wedged between an H&R Block and an auto-supply shop. Fortunately, it still looks like a burger joint inside and the food is the same as it’s been since I first discovered Charlie’s about 20 years ago.
Charlie’s serves smashed, very thin burgers that are cooked on a flat griddle in the grease that builds up over the course of the day, as more burgers hit the cooking surface. Nobody ever said this was health food! I generally get a double or two. There isn’t much to a single.
Their hot dogs are split length-wise and served with plenty of accumulated grease on a burger bun with the toppings of your choice.
The shakes have an extremely pure flavor. They don’t use an excess of syrup. The ingredients are high quality. I have tried vanilla, strawberry and black & white and liked them all.
Charlie’s is one of only three Pennsylvania restaurants to make George Motz’s, Hamburger America, which is the ultimate guide book for burger lovers.