Tops Burger

The Original Tops Burger in Pasadena had their 60th anniversary party this weekend.  To celebrate their success the restaurant sold their Tops Special Burger for 60 cents. Who could say no to that? So I hopped in the car on Saturday morning to check it out. The line to get in wound around the building, but it moved really quickly. The kitchen was moving at a frenzied pace trying to cook up burgers in time with demand. The poor guys looked like Sisyphus pushing a rock up that godforsaken hill. Every time they got close to completing their mission, they would be swamped with more orders. 

From here on out I must warn you. This review will be skewed. My meal cost $1.33 (I got a drink) and I’m a very cheap woman. If something costs next to nothing I will love it even more. I love all of my free t-shirts more than the ones I’ve bought. I love every free meal I’ve ever gotten more than the ones I paid for. So, apologies in advance for what come next. It was the best damn 60 cent burger I’ve ever had. The Tops Special consists of a quarter pound beef patty with a thick layer of iceberg lettuce, tomato, sweet red onion, dill pickle and homemade Thousand Island dressing topped with pastrami, mustard and American cheese. It’s a whole lot of flavors piled high and then wrapped snuggly in wax paper sheath.

Would I pay $6.49 for it though? Well, that depends on the circumstances. Is it 3am? Then yes. (They close at 11pm.) Are we in a truck stop in the middle of Missouri? Then I would be super stoked that we managed to find a burger this good, but because we’re in a city that is densely packed with good burgers, probably not. That being said, would I pay a couple bucks more for their pastrami sandwich? Absolutely, unquestionably, yes. The superstar of the burger was far and away the pastrami on top. The salty meaty goodness was divine with the mustard and completely eclipsed the burger patty. The burger itself seemed like an afterthought compared to its toppings. It wasn’t a pastrami burger. It was a pastrami melt with a burger that got lost in the middle of it. It was the Beyonce in the middle of Destiny’s Child. You knew right away who the star was.

-Molly Bergen


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