The Cheeseburger at Fountain Porter: An Appreciation

Fountain Porter. Photo by Jared Brey.

Fountain Porter. Photo by Jared Brey.

In the past, we’ve given the burger at Fountain Porter a Best Of Philly award for Best Bargain Burger. We’ve included it in two different round-ups–our big list of the Best Burgers In Philly, and our guide to Classic Bar Foods. And now, there’s this: An appreciation of the $5 burger from Philly mag man about town, Jared Brey.

I want to say that I’ve eaten the cheeseburger at Fountain Porter between 10 and 20 times, most recently about thirty minutes ago.

My house is a one-minute walk from the bar, which is at the corner of 10th and Tasker streets in South Philly. It’s a clean place. A lot of straight lines. Bright but spare neon in the windows, which wrap two walls. Airy.

Fountain Porter sells only a few food items, a cheeseburger and a veggie burger, plus various pickles, and boiled peanuts. They keep about a dozen beers on tap. The cheeseburger costs five dollars, and it is so exceptionally good that I would have eaten it at least 40 times by now, except that the place doesn’t have very many seats and it is usually crowded.

The burger is a small thing, no more than a quarter-pound of ground beef. It is salted so brazenly that if it were any larger it might be tough to finish. But eating it is probably the most perfectly satisfying food experience that a South Philadelphian can rely on, and if it were any smaller, you wouldn’t be able to order fewer than two.

Its salty crust is brittle, seared so that you can almost hear it crack. It is served between two halves of a potato roll, above a lettuce leaf and a red slice of tomato and below a slice of melted American cheese. Two briny pickle chips join it on the little plate. The kitchen cooks it so expertly medium rare that after a few bites, blood and fat begin pooling up on the plate, waiting to be sponged up by the roll.

It takes six to eight minutes to arrive, and around three minutes to eat, so that, if you’re like me, you have about half of a still-cold beer to wash it down with after you’re done, before paying the bartender and walking home, eyes welling with tears of gratitude.

Follow @jaredbrey on Twitter.