In what has become an almost-daily routine, I headed up Lake Ave to see if Fatburger is open yet. It is not. But I was still in a burger mood. I considered turning around and going to Wolfe Burgers. But, as anyone who has driven on Lake in the middle of the day knows, it can be a parking lot. I wasn't in the mood to deal with that. I remembered that there was a burger place way up on Lake, almost as far up as Altadena Drive, so I decided to go there.
It's called Everest and as soon as I walked in I liked the place. It's nothing fancy at all, just a regular burger joint filled with people eating lunch. It reminded me visually of Fair Oaks Burger and olfactorily of someplace else, something I couldn't quite place. I ordered a burger with everything but onions for a friend and a turkey burger for myself. I turned my attention to the fries, offered in three sizes: regular, large, and "Tops jumbo."
Ah, that's what this place smells like: Tops. Is it owned by the same people? I made a note to check. (I don't think it is, but I have read that it used to be a Tops.)
There were only two of us sharing the fries and I was reasonably certain a large - hell, from the look of the boxes coming through the pass, probably a regular - would be enough for the two of us. But the jumbo size was only fifty cents more and I kind of wanted to see how big it would be, so that's what I ordered.
What I assumed were my fries were done in just a couple minutes and left sitting in the window. Then the guy behind the counter put them in a bag and sealed it. I hated this. The fries looked crispy and shiny with oil when sitting there. They were now steaming inside a bag, making certain they would no longer be crisp. If it had only been a brief time that would have been one thing, but it was more than five minutes before the two burgers were placed in the window. And then the cook and the counter guy argued about which burger was which for another couple minutes.
I took my food and left. When I unwrapped it a few minutes later I was happy that some of the fries remained crispy, and those fries were very good, better than Tops fries ever have been. But far too many of the fries were the limp, soggy fries that Tops is famous for. The box was large, about the size of one of my shoes boxes (and I wear a size 13) so at least there were a fair amount of fries we could eat. We didn't even finish half the order.
My friend took one bite of her burger and said "This is much better than Tops." I tried my turkey burger. It was good. Not as good as Fatburger's turkey burger, but still decent. Too often turkey burgers are dried-out, but this one was plenty juicy.
While I liked Everest, I did not love it and it isn't as good as Fair Oaks Burger. Lunch for two people was just over ten bucks, and it certainly would have been under that if I hadn't intentionally ordered the jumbo fries. It's a good deal, which I imagine is the main part of its popularity. If there weren't a plethora of great burger options in this town I would probably return to Everest at some point. But without trying too hard, I can think of at least two dozen burgers in Pasadena that I like more, so I doubt I will ever return.