The Burger's Good, The Service Sucks!
I have been to the P & H three times, with two of my visits resulting in poor service due to rude bartenders. Although my initial visit, which was with my college classmates, was positive, my next two visits were bad experiences. In both of those visits (several years apart), I went there to get a to-go order for a cheeseburger and fries. The bartenders were very stand-offish, barking at me "What do you want!" (I'm paraphrasing because it's been so long ago). From what I can remember, the cheeseburger in all instances (including my first visit) was pretty good, even though the buns on most of them were slightly burnt. Although the food was good, I will never go there again because I don't feel that the waitstaff and/or owners appreciate my business. My friends told me that the P & H is rude to everyone. However, given that I'm buying a product and service from the restaurant, I feel that I deserve better.
The previous was originally posted on Urbanspoon on July 4, 2010
"Stuffed" The Right Way
As a guy who believes in second chances, I recently (February 4, 2014) paid another visit to P & H Cafe for late takeout. It wasn't my original intention, for I really wanted Krispy Krunchy Chicken. Unfortunately, the two places close to P & H (Snappy Mart and Mapco, a convenience store that also sells Quiznos subs) stopped selling chicken after 9 o'clock. Well, after considering other options like KFC, Popeye's and Church's, I gave up my poultry search for the sake of a delicious cheeseburger. It was my second one of the day, after having a burger from Chef Mike at Rizzo's Diner. But despite going into burger overload in both body and blog, I really craved a P & H burger. I wanted one even if I had to place my order with, well, you know....
Once I arrived and got a menu, I saw something that immediately caught my eye: stuffed ½ lb. burgers. For those not in the know, a "stuffed" burger (a.k.a. a "Juicy Lucy") is one that has cheese, veggies and other things put inside the ground beef. The first thought that popped into my head was Mot & Ed's, the Soul Food restaurant that's up the street from P & H. Before that point, I wasn't in "blogger mode" but rather a guy who was hungry. However, with P & H being within walking distance of the Southern eatery, I felt obligated to get the cafe's stuffed burger for the sake of comparison on this blog. Given my experiences at both places, I was very confident that P & H's stuffed burger would be better than Mot & Ed's. My prediction proved true in a very wonderful way.
My burger of choice was the El Espanol stuffed with cheddar cheese and jalapeños. Although I considered going with a Foursquare tip (the "Greek," stuffed with Feta cheese and capers which I got later), I chose the El Espanol because I wanted something spicy to keep me up while I watched one of my favorite TV shows (FX's "Justified"). It was a choice that I didn't regret, for the burger met all my high expectations. The ground beef was seasoned the way a good burger should, with a moderate amount of salt and pepper that enhances the meat without overwhelming it. The burger, cooked "medium," definitely lived up to P & H's reputation and didn't need any "stuffing."
Best Memphis Burger (I believe Seth would give the burger four stars).
Of course, I can't end this updated review without commenting about the service at the P & H. The bartender who took my order was hospitable and courteous, qualities that I haven't seen from others at the "cafe" that's more of a dive bar with pool tables in the back of it. Although I didn't ask much of him, I felt welcomed at his bar while I waited for my order. For me, that's all I'm looking for when I'm dining out. I'm not looking for anyone to kiss my ass, just some respect as I spend some of my hard-earned money. As a bonus, the manager greeted me as I got my order and asked if everything was okay. After looking everything over and taking pictures of my dinner, I nodded and thanked her for my great looking burger. If my latest experience at P & H Cafe is a sign of things to come, the bar might convince me to visit more often. Burgers without bullshit definitely suits me fine.