It's hard not to love a place like Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill. The name alone says "neighborhood watering hole and stick-to-your-ribs grub."
Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill, with all its funkiness, has catered to the Burbank locals since 1939. It must be doing something right because it has had only three owners since that time. It was one of my favorite places in the early 1970s when I was the sports editor of the Burbank Daily Review.
When I returned last week after a 35-year absence, swinging open the saloon doors, it was like walking into a time warp. It could have been 1975 all over again. The atmosphere was the same — a pool table right in front of me, the long bar to the left, booths to the right, the patio straight ahead. The friendliness of the wait staff was infectious.
That is all fine and dandy, but what about the food? Tinhorn Flats is known for its eclectic hamburger menu. I selected the bacon cheeseburger ($8.50), with steak fries. I'm not a big steak fries guy, but these were good. The half-pound burger, with its handmade patty made fresh daily, was awesome. It was so big, I had trouble opening my mouth wide enough to take a bite. There are 14 burger choices on the menu from the American Classic to Mushroom Swiss to Jalapeno Cheddar. All burgers are $8.50 with the exception of the Tinhorn Cheese Burger ($7.50).
Tinhorn Flats also has a choice of seven sandwiches ranging in price from the Traditional B.L.T. for $6.50 to the Carne Asada Steak Sandwich at $8.95.
My son had the Thursday night special, a pork chop listed at $5.95, which was on "special, special" for — are you ready for this — $3.95. It comes with mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy and vegetables. A week earlier Tinhorn Flats was closed for filming so they lowered the price of the pork chop to $3.95 in a way to say "sorry for being closed."
My son said the pork chop wasn't steakhouse quality, but roadhouse quality. He loved the gravy and the mashed potatoes.
For starters, we tried the onion rings (handmade and beer battered), the fried pickles and fried jalapeno chips ($4.95 each). All three were outstanding thanks to the fabulous batter, but the onion rings, oh, those onion rings. Wow!
Tinhorn Flats has a Happy Hour from 3 to 6 p.m. daily and a weekdays lunch special of $4.95 for all burgers, salads and sandwiches from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It's also home for Chicago sports. Daily specials include Taco Tuesday ($1 from 6 p.m. to closing) and Cheeseburger Wednesday ($4.95 open to close).
I'll be back and this time it will not take me 35 years. There are too many other menu items I want to try.
Stan Wawer has been a writer and editor for Southern California newspapers for 47 years and more recently has been freelancing restaurant and travel stories for publications throughout the country.
What: Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill
Where: 2623 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank
When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Prices: $5.95 to $9.95.
Contact: (818) 567-2470; or visit http://www.tinhornflats.com