Eating at Wolfe Burgers is one of those things I love but don't do anywhere near as much as I should, like walking around the Rose Bowl, reading Shakespeare, or taking a shower. I have been eating there for probably half my life, but sometimes more than a year goes by without a visit. They do not have my favorite burgers in Pasadena (Hutch's is my favorite burger in the world and Pie 'n Burger and Rick's both make better burgers) but there is something about the atmosphere at Wolfe Burgers that I love.
There is a nice patio in back of the restaurant that is perfect for warm days. Unlike a lot of small burger joints, Wolfe Burgers sells beer, and my friends and I have had several summer Saturday lunches over the years on the patio with cold Pacificos. Last night was neither warm nor daytime so my friend and I sat inside and drank Pepsi, but there was a flatscreen tv showing the Lakers game, which was just fine with me.
My standard order is a turkey burger. I love turkey burgers (it has nothing to do with health; turkey is just my favorite protein) and Wolfe Burgers has my favorite turkey burger in Pasadena. My friend had the regular "Wolfe Burger." (You can also get a "Big Bad Wolfe Burger," which has to be close to a pound of beef.) One of the best things about the place (second only to their beer & wine license, of course) is their condiment bar. The burgers come with lettuce and (a not-too-fresh looking) tomato on them, but you can add your choice of at least a dozen condiments. Also, there is usually a bottle of A.1. sauce on the counter, and I love A.1. on burgers.
On my turkey burger I put onions, pickles, thousand island dressing, and A.1. My friend added pickles and thousand island to her burger, which she had ordered with American cheese. We each had a small order of fries. Wolfe Burgers fries are fresh cut potatoes (think a larger, better-cooked version of In-n-Out.) They also have fantastic, beer-battered onion rings that no less an authority than Jonathan Gold called "just about the best in Southern California."
I also got a cup of their spicy chili, which I love. It strikes the perfect balance between thick and thin, and even though the spicy version includes a healthy amount of chili flakes, I like to add a few slices of pepperoncini. Most people order it with cheese and onions (the girl behind the counter wrote "cheese and onions" on my ticket before she asked me if I wanted them; she gave me a confused look when I said I did not, which I found charming) but I like the chili without the accompaniments.
It was a great dinner: filling (I took at least half my chili home with me and my friend took at least half her fries,) tasty, and free. Ok, it was only free for me, since my friend paid for it. Details. The Lakers even played hard. Yes, their opponent was lousy, but when has that ever stopped the Lakers from mailing it in?
While I can't honestly say that Wolfe Burgers makes a great burger, it is a great burger joint.