PYT owner and party promoter Tommy Up says his burger joint’s name stands for “pick your topping” and isn’t a reference to the Michael Jackson song, though the bar’s photographs suggest otherwise. One displays a pretty young thing in a hot pink bra, mayonnaise dolloped improbably across her décolletage. But beyond the softly pornographic wall art lies PYT’s raison d’être: burgers. And, thankfully, they’re more interesting than the frenzied hype.
With a few new burger joints opening in the area, Philadelphia — like the rest of the country — is enjoying a ground-beef renaissance. Our best-loved burgers have long been of the thick and meaty pub variety, but Up is among a growing group that prefers the West Coast style: a smaller, thinner patty seared on a super-hot flat-top, and nestled into a soft roll. PYT’s crave-able namesake burger, topped with bacon and cheddar, is a fine example, though I suggest upgrading with an optional over-easy egg and onion ring. It’s over the top, like PYT itself.
The rest of PYT’s menu didn’t rise to the classic burger’s quality. The Shroom Burger sacrifices the meaty texture of portabella mushrooms for the generic taste of deep-fried whatever. The Serious Grilled Cheese was a seriously sloppy hodgepodge of boursin, soggy mushrooms and flabby bacon. Stick with the core menu and the well-executed fresh-cut fries and beer-battered onion rings. If you must stray, go for a PYT dog — a Hebrew National link topped with chili, cheese and raw onions — or the surprisingly moist chicken burger. The “Adultshakes” make an appropriately indulgent finale, especially the double espresso, which delivers a nice balance of sweetness, bitterness and booze.
You’ll need a few cocktails to keep cool about the service. Bartenders and waiters poured themselves shots while I sat beer-less for 10 minutes. Most of those pretty young things strut the place like it’s a catwalk, wearing skirts so short you can barely see them. It’s enough to make anyone old enough to drink feel over the hill. But regardless of age or tattoo quotient, burger enthusiasts should make the trip to sample the best West Coast-style burger in town.