I've been visiting PK BURGERS in Brea for years, but it was only recently that I finally ate at the roadside treasure. See, every time I pulled into its parking lot, the stand had just closed. The hours are reasonable—open until 8 p.m. on weekdays, 4 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday—but getting to PK is a mini-sojourn if you don't live north of the 91: it's on Imperial Highway in an area where Brea, Placentia and Yorba Linda practically merge, near land that was once oil country but is currently getting bulldozed for yet another hillside development. There's no real reason to be in the neighborhood other than PK, Carbon Canyon Regional Park and the chance to see the Lady Wildcats destroy their opposition.
But it's worth the trip. Quarter-pounder specials may be on almost every block in the county, but my favorite is at PK. The fries are actually memorable—thick, with the skin on for a bit of charred charm, tasting as if they were just chopped out of a tuber as opposed to spending days in a freezer. A small drink comes with the PK deal, just like everywhere else, but one of the beverage options is Orange Bang!—the greatest drink in history. However, it's the burger that's key in this equation, and not just because it's the namesake star. Whereas most quarter-pounder offers rely on the allure of their cheap price to sell a product usually little more edible than Arby's, PK's take is almost as great as those grilled at TK's, the legendary coastal mini-chain from whom I'm pretty sure this Brea burger palace got its name. The patty is bigger than most and irregularly shaped, signifying someone recently molded some chuck into your lunch. There are no condiments on the bun save for a tangy secret sauce. Onions get grilled, and the shredded lettuce inside is actually crisp instead of limp. The best part, however, is the pickles—many, many pickles, on the level Carl's Jr. once executed with its junior cheeseburgers. Ah, yes, the cheese: PK melts its Cheddar superbly.
There are other burgers at PK—avocado, topped with pastrami or chili—and yummy classic Americana sandwiches (tuna melts, bacon and egg, grilled cheese, and club) that appeal nowadays mainly to the Leisure World crowd. And their breakfast burritos and omelets are better than the fare at most fast-food establishments—but so is everything else on their menu.
PK Burgers, 3320 E. Imperial Hwy., Brea, (714) 528-1001.