Pasadena Burgers: Jake's
Jake's Burgers has stood for over 60 years on the legendary Route 66 (Colorado Boulevard). It got a slight makeover in the 80s, adding a billiards room (and that's probably when the beer made its debut). A place does not stand that long on such pricy real estate without some serious chow to back it up.
Jake's has that old beach-city burger stand vibe to it, with round stools and a black and white checkered floor. They still serve old-fashioned shakes, with a rotating flavor (this week it was Nutter Butter Peanut Butter). Jake's has fun mini clipboards with pads for ordering, kind of like dim sum slips. You select and check off the desired patty, cheese, bun, and toppings. It's a litle overwhelming, divided into six steps. Jake's also has signature burgers - your usual original, BBQ, chili, mushroom and teriyaki.
But if you want to walk on the wild side -- and of course I did, they have a few toppings to tickle the palate. I really wanted to try the apricot sauce, since that was new to me. The server did seem inclined to help advise me on complementary accompaniments, and just suggested I order it on the side. So I made my own monster burger and it was delicious!
Beef Burger - Pineapple - Grilled Peppers - Avocado - Chipotle Aioli - Apricot Sauce
This burger blew my mind!!! The flavors melded just perfectly, the sweet and spicy, cooled by the smooth avocado. This is now my go-to burger every time I hit Jake's.
For comparison's sake, we also got a traditional burger with cheddar cheese, bacon, red onion, ketchup, and mustard. You can also get the onions grilled, but they aren't as photogenic. It also was one serious burger. They look well-done in the pictures, but it's actually a very nice char. The inside is cooked medium, and th meat is high quality. There wasn't a bit of gristle. They fan the burger out, kind of like a deck of cards. Maybe so you can check the toppings are correct, maybe so you can have the fun of squishing it, or maybe it's an aesthetic.
The sides are fries, onion rings, etc. with the interesting addition of fried pickles. The coating is especially thick, and the pickle flavor is mellowed so it's not too shocking. The menu also includes sliders, hot dogs, hot wings, chili, and a variety of topped fries.
The one negative mark on a perfect report card comes under "plays well with others". maybe it's unfair to judge the friendliness of the service on one visit. Maybe they were pissed they were going to have to work through the last game of the playoffs. Let's just say they were not very chatty. The other customers, however, made up for it by having a real sense of comraderie, and I had a fantastic time hanging out with the crowd.
We will have to hit Jake's again to try those chili fries and shakes. It is definitely a spot to be a regular, regardless of whether they warm up to me or not..