It seems like it's been quite a few weeks since there's been a heated debate on this board about The Apple Pan. I think we're overdue.
Personally, I hadn't been to Apple Pan in a few years, admittedly because I was never impressed with the place the several times I had been there before. But time can change one's perspective and taste...
I was in an out-of-control burger mood today, and was already on Pico in West L.A., so I figured it was time to give Apple Pan another shot. Walking in at about 4:30 PM, the place was near capacity and I was lucky to get the last of the uncomfortably cramped stools immediately. It didn't seem like anything had changed there except the fairly steep prices. I ordered a hickory burger with cheese, fries, and a Diet Coke. Total: $11.10 ($13.00 with tip). Reality check: For that much, I could get the Double-Double combo at In 'N Out two and a half times.
Which is IMHO unquestionably a superior, saner option. I'm sorry, but the legendary Apple Pan burger is nothing the least bit special. If you're a first-timer going in with any notion that you're going to be served a classic thick, juicy burger, that illusion will likely be shattered as soon as you take your first bite. The patty, just as I remembered, is still cardboard thin, close to what you'd find at most fast-food restaurants. The sandwich was dominated by a huge wedge of iceberg lettuce with a barely perceptible bit of pickle and a single slice of cheese (50 cents extra). Tomato is not even an option. The famed hickory sauce is passable, but of no better quality than what you might purchase off any supermarket shelf. Overall, the burger tasted just fine, but was not in any way superior to what you'd expect to get from most any diner, coffee shop or Fatburger stand.
I will concede that the fries were excellent. Mine were fresh out of the fryer, very hot, golden brown and crispy.
I did not feel up to spending an additonal $5.50 for a slice of any of their pies, which I also remember as overrated.
I think the Apple Pan is just another of L.A.'s inglorious dives whose legendary status does not conform with reality. (See Canter's for another recently debated example.) Frankly, I don't see how anyone finds Apple Pan's food to be leaps and bounds ahead of its "bastard child," the Johnny Rocket's chain. Yes, you can certainly do much worse locally than an Apple Pan burger. But given the hype and the prices, that just ain't nearly good enough.