I’ve had the misfortune over the past decade of having to frequently drive on a stretch of Baltimore Pike in Delaware County, PA, that is hellishly congested much of the time. It’s an old road that connects Philadelphia and Baltimore and was probably a main route between the two cities in the pre-highway days.
My wife and I have been stopped at either a red light or in just the usual heavy traffic in front of a bar called Pappou’s Pizza Pub many times during that period. On top of this place and facing the Pike is a sign that reads, “100% Old Fashioned Hamburgers.” The phrase has become an inside joke between the two of us because we have no idea what it actually means, yet something about the look and sound of it appeals to both my old-school sensibilities and love of hamburgers.
After eating there earlier today for the first time and trying a couple burgers, I am still not sure what the phrase means. But I’m at least feeling less intrigued and am glad that I’ll no longer feel the need to find out.
Pappou’s has been around for over 40 years and has the look and feel of a popular neighborhood bar where I would guess there are a lot of regular customers. But I arrived shortly after they opened and was one of only three people there along with the bartender and cook.
I’m calling Pappou’s a bar, but they do have tables and a full food menu. As usual, I had read over it several times online in advance of my lunch and knew what I’d be ordering.
Their burgers are small. I could have ordered a double cheeseburger and still had room for something else. But they have a standing special of two single cheeseburgers for $6.95, so I went with that and also a basket of onion rings, which I washed down with a Diet Coke.
There was unexpected entertainment while I waited for my order. The friendly bartender turned all of the TVs on to The Price is Right, which I probably hadn’t watched since Bob Barker was host.
The food arrived before too long and I dug in after snapping a few photos.
The onion rings were clearly of the frozen variety, but they were perfectly fried and went well with the burgers.
The cheeseburgers came in a separate basket and appeared to be missing the fried onions and pickles I had requested with them. It turned out I was only half right about that. The onions were under the melted cheese. The bartender brought out the pickles and I commenced snapping after placing a few on each burger.
As good as the two-burgers special is, one double cheeseburger might be more advisable at Pappou’s. The patties are very thin and are covered with a healthy layer of what I assume was American cheese.
There was nothing extraordinary about the burgers. One was a little moister than the other. But they were solid in terms of flavor and made for an enjoyable lunch.
I doubt I’ll go back to Pappou’s. That’s not a knock against them. I’m just not a big bar guy. I prefer restaurants with a bar to bars with a few tables.
But after years of joking about the place with my wife and wondering about their “100% Old Fashioned Hamburgers,” I’m glad to knock them off my list.