Burger 238: Royal Tavern | Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search

937 East Passyunk
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Bus:  SEPTA 47, 64

Visit:  March 27, 2014


The second day of our trip to Philadelphia took us to some of the most historical sites.  When you walk further south, you find yourself in the district known as the Italian Market.  While that might sound like a haven of pizza and pasta, it’s the home to staples such as the Philly cheesesteak.  While I would have loved to share that, there was one place that made sure I continued my burger search, which was Royal Tavern.

The research that I did in preparation for this long awaited trip to Philadelphia prepared me rather well and I was able to get most of what I wanted done.  A lot of the burgers were decided well in advance, but there was one lunch stop that I was not completely certain of.  

At first, I was going for the must visit cheesesteak locations, two of which I had time to pass by and will share soon.  I also had another burger place that was a lot closer to the Italian Market area that we limited our students to.  It wasn’t until a week or two before departure that I got wind of a place that claimed to have Philadelphia’s best burger.  Well, that sounded like a challenge to me and it turned out that it wasn’t that far away.  In doing research for this post, I found this article that was posted at the very moment I was in Royal Tavern starting my visit.  That’s just a big coincidence.

Royal Tavern is your typical neighborhood bar.  Places like this offer a wide variety of libations that people care about more than food.  There is usually some menu that is neglected, where no one would really bat an eye at.  Upon looking at the menu at Royal Tavern, I noticed some things that look really interesting.  These are items that you would probably never find at some local dive.  There were also some things I didn’t really notice until after the fact.

Our group actually arrived to the market a little early and that gave me a lot of time to make my way to the tavern.  Also, I was right on time for the opening.  So, when I went in, it was like I caught the server off guard a bit.  It was a bit of a tentative start, but one that allowed me in nonetheless.  The ordering process was quick and painless.  When this part was behind me, things picked up a bit.

As the food arrived, this was the point where the visit started to mean something.  During our trip, we ran into a lot of very sympathetic people who treated us very well.  Whenever you told them you were from Montreal, the response was more than warm.  My start with this server was a bit cold, but the conversation started up.  I found out that they just visited Montreal and we got to talking about poutine, something that is slowly making its way further down south.  On my way out, the weather was broached and we all agreed that no one wanted the snowstorm that was occurring back in my home.

Mac ‘n’ Cheese ($5)

When I ordered my customary burger, I was under the impression that the sides were an addition to the bill.  Well, the extra side dish came on top of my fries.  This only happened to me once before.  This was my only complaint against Royal Tavern, as it wasn’t that clear on the menu.  Then again, I guess I won’t turn down the fries, since they were actually quite good.

Angus Burger ($12)

This burger contains caramelized onions, smoked gouda, pickled longhots, chile mayonnaise, and bacon.

When you smack a big time boast in your entrance, the expectations are quite high.  It’s one of the biggest claims that I cannot ever make of any burger I ever had in my life.  It’s nice to see the confidence, but I will say that I yet to have eaten the greatest burger ever.  So, I wasn’t looking for the best burger here, but one that I can call great.

Right off the bat, the burger looked quite good and makes you believe that you’re going to have something worth eating.  What makes this even more appealing was the bunch of different items that I have never had before in my search.  I’m all for trying something new, especially when it doesn’t make it look so offbeat.  They may have been different, but you’re still looking for a traditional burger, in my opinion.

After taking my first bite, all the elements were right there.  The meat was delivered at the table, at the requested temperature.  There was never a moment where I was fighting the burger because of the burger.  I will admit that the only fighting I had to do was due to the fact that I was eating way too much for the moment.

The newer elements were the ones that really made me remember the burger.  The longhots and mayo combination adds a kick that you don’t necessarily get from a traditional burger.  So, it’s like you’re eating two burgers in one.  I’m not really big on things that pack heat, but this wasn’t that bad.

In all, the burger was a strong showing and worth trying.  The cook on the meat was spot on and worth the price alone.  With the added components, you have something that makes the burger stand out.  I was really glad that I had the chance to try this one out.

Final Verdict

Royal Tavern claims to have the best burger in Philadelphia and they might have a case.  What I know is that the burger was really worth the visit.  What started out as a tentative visit turned out to be one that was another highlight to a memorable trip.

Royal Tavern on Urbanspoon


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  1. mrlewburger posted this