Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chow Time: Bun 'N Burger

I have fallen off the "Healthy Eating" wagon so often that I've determined my best bet is simply to tether my cankle to the wagon and just get dragged behind, hoping for the best.  Predictably, the knot in the rope seemed to slip a little when I saw the neon wonder of a short-order cook proffering a hamburger in one hand and a piece of pie in the other.

wacky tacky chow time

Situated on a bustling corner of Alhambra's Main St, is an under-appreciated institution of Southern California's wartime gastronomy.  Looking from the outside like something straight out of a Hollywood movie's "Main St," Bun 'N Burger (est. 1941), is just shy of its 75th anniversary of serving America's greatest taste sensation, the burger ('n the bun too).

wacky tacky chow time
Bun 'N Burger - Alhambra, CA

The angled corner entry, the awnings, and that marvelous signage are all so wonderfully stereotypical of a burger joint of its vintage.  After countless disappointing, after-hours drives-by (why am I always in Alhambra after dark???), I was excited to finally get a chance to experience what lay beyond the locked doors of Bun 'N Burger.  

The obligatory red booths and counter stools are set solidly in place before formica tables and countertops.
I immediately fell head over heals for the gleaming, stainless-steel fixtures including that monstrous exhaust hood.
I would thrill to see the two-tone green color story of the exterior brought under foot in the form of linoleum tiles.

Quiet, quick, and courteous, the service at Bun 'N Burger is top notch.  I was so lost in snapping photos that the waitress finally had to snap me out of it just to take my order.  

Oh darn, I just missed menudo....

Convinced that I was making a healthy choice by ordering a grilled chicken sandwich with no cheese and no mayo (I might be the last person on Earth that foolishly does not consider bread the enemy), I realized that the waitress probably felt sorry for me and brought my sandwich with a side of guacamole (healthy fat and omega something something, right?) AND a side of fries.

Waffle-cut fries!!!
There would be no saving room for pie...

As well as "Professional Waffle-Cut Fry Connoisseur," one of my many dream jobs would be "Make-Under Artist."  As frequently and as fiercely as I tout the ideology, "Too much is never enough," I often think that what old-fashioned eateries could really tolerate is a heavy dose of good, old-fashioned decluttering - particularly where totally-unrelated miscellanea is concerned.  When will retro diners/coffee shops/et al. realize that were they all landmarks on old Route 66, the"Mother Road" would've been a highly-circuitous eight-million-miles long!

At some point in its history, Bun 'N Burger created an additional dining room by expanding into an adjoining space - as much to accommodate more guests as to accommodate the growing collection of reproduction Coca-Cola memorabilia, I'd wager.  Is it so wrong that I just want to see the streamlined bones of a streamline-era restaurant?  All Bun 'N Burger needs is a fair bit of curation by someone with a level head and a keen eye.  However, there are definitely a few select collectibles that I think should remain; I mean, who can resist a taxidermied swordfish?!!

And this loving tribute to the King...there's always
room in a wacky tacky environment for black velvet.

"Hot Dog" - Elvis Presley
What goes better together than hot dogs and hamburgers, I ask you?

Bun 'N Burger
1000 E Main St
Alhambra, CA


Mr. Tiny


  1. Love the sign! The west coast has so much awesome retro kitsch :D Jelous

    1. Hahahaha, I feel the same about Florida! There are so many things I want to see there!

  2. This looks like a wonderful little joint! I completely agree with the "cluttering" situation, way to many places cover up the real beauty. I love Coca-Cola as much as the next guy, but let's keep it down to a single 1948 red Coke Cooler Box and not so many reproduction trays!

  3. i was going to say, I hope you aren't suggesting they get rid of the swordfish! also, I am DYING for a velvet Elvis but never see cool ones for sale!
    I love their sign, and those red stools. I also cackled at the image of someone "strapping their cankle to the healthy eating wagon."

    1. There are some elements of design that are timeless and without boundaries of style or period - taxidermy and black velvet paintings!!! I'm glad we see eye-to-eye on that.