An old-time burger joint with thin patties and no pretentions

At Charlie’s Hamburgers in Folsom, Pa., fourth and current owner Steve McDonald still makes the patties the way they’ve been made since the restaurant opened in 1935. “Lettuce is not an essential ingredient in a hamburger,” says McDonald.
At Charlie’s Hamburgers in Folsom, Pa., fourth and current owner Steve McDonald still makes the patties the way they’ve been made since the restaurant opened in 1935. “Lettuce is not an essential ingredient in a hamburger,” says McDonald. Photos by Chris Malloy for The Boston GlobE (above left and below); Cheryl Bonifazio

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FOLSOM, Penn. — On the same suburban block in a town west of Philadelphia there are two joints that specialize in old-time burgers. The first, with checkerboard patterns and lacquered red seats, aims to re-create the food and feel of the 1950s. The second is a spare, white-painted shack with no room for a fryer. Charlie’s Hamburgers has churned out burgers since 1935. It’s a living relic of the ’50s.

This isn’t the place to come for a burger topped with an egg or grilled ramps, for burgers served on brioche, or fashioned from high-grade beef. What’s surprising about Charlie’s is not that Steve McDonald, the fourth and current owner of Charlie’s, stays true to the recipe and philosophy of founder Charles “Charlie” Convery. . .

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