P’unk Burger


The burger bug has finally hit South Philly, and it is good news: P’unk Burger, from the folks behind SliCE, opened on East Passyunk Avenue in February. I have been waiting for this premiere since last year.

It is a cash-only, family-oriented space decked out with soothing green walls, natural wood floors and tables. The delightful staff knows each item on the menu, as two servers answered all our questions. Burgers of all sorts are featured along with salads, side dishes, milkshakes, ice cream floats and Maine Root Fair Trade sodas ($2.50). Refills on the sodas are free.

We began with a bibb and bleu salad ($5.95) and a pulled portabello salad ($5.95). The first consisted of a classic combination of freshly-torn buttery bibb lettuce leaves tossed with tiny bits of blue cheese, thinly-sliced pears and walnuts. The only dressing available is a balsamic vinaigrette. I poured it on and found it flavorful and not too overpowering for the delicate lettuces. The portabello was a composed salad and featured warm woodsy slices of heady mushrooms, bibb lettuce, red onion, small slices of ripe tomatoes, sweet corn and avocado. The mix of ingredients worked well in flavor and texture. Tomatoes are usually dreadful this time of year, but these were red, ripe and juicy.

The beef is organic, all-natural fair trade and hormone-free. The cattle are grass-fed and humanely treated. The vegetables are not genetically modified.

I wanted to build my own burger. It started with a well-formed beef patty ($7.95). Lettuce, tomato and sweet red onion come with each burger. Then I chose my toppings, which run from 50 cents to $1.75. I chose bacon and a beer and mustard cheddar cheese. The patty was medium-rare, quite juicy inside. It could have been seared a bit better, but I did not mind it. The bacon was thick cut, and the cheese caused quite a party in my mouth. Although it was served on a brioche bun, it was not too sweet. I also liked the ratio of beef to bread. Sometimes the bun overtakes the beef.

The specialty burgers also intrigued us. We tried the wasabi ahi ($10.95), which was a bit of a surprise. I thought it would be a tuna burger. Instead, it was a good- sized slice of spicy rare ahi tuna, nicely seared, and topped with wasabi sauce, arugula and slaw. It was spicy, indeed, but not so much that I had to drink a glass of water. I think this sandwich would fare better if the tuna were chopped and formed into a patty. Still, it was tasty.

I like thin cut french fries. I adore the crinkle cut ones at Shake Shack. I don’t care for the soggy, hand-cut fries that are all the rage now. Thin cut Idaho and sweet potato fries are available. Sea salt fries ($3.75) were crisp, but not hot. I imagined how fine they could have been. Unfortunately, the onion rings ($3.99) were greasy.

I don’t drink soda, as it is mostly sugar and high fructose corn syrup. One sip sends me into a coma. But P’unk offers fountain sodas from Maine Root Fair Trade, so I had to give it a shot. The root beer was bold and filled with flavor, but the ginger brew was unlike any ginger ale I have ever tasted. Customers can actually savor the strong ginger used to make this drink. The company uses organic evaporated cane juice in its drinks.

P’unk Burger is BYOB. One couple brought two bottles of beer. It was a good idea, as burgers and wine do not marry well. P’unk Burger has seats for toddlers, too. Two little ones were enjoying themselves during our visit.

Although burgers are offered everywhere in South Philly, P’unk Burger is unique. I think it is the sole burger-centric restaurant on East Passyunk Avenue.


Two-and-a-half tips of the toque to P’unk Burger. 

P’unk Burger

1823 E. Passyunk Ave.

Contact the South Philly Review at editor@southphillyreview.com.