Situated in the corner of the Piazza (an 80,000 square foot, open-air plaza in which farmer’s markets, concerts and other events take place) is PYT, a burger joint whose logo is a cartoonish drawing of the letters PYT with illustrations of a burger, a record (playing the song “burger track”) and a pink lemonade concoction drink. What does PYT stand for? I couldn’t tell you. Why do they have a shake with bacon in it? I also couldn’t tell you that. What I can tell you is that PYT not only makes an above-average burger but also extremely unique types of burgers. I can also tell you that it probably isn’t worth the trek to NoLibs alone (unless you have a strong desire for one of their excellent “adult shakes”–butterfingers, vanilla ice cream and vodka anyone)?
As soon as you walk across The Piazza, past the outdoor seating and into the restaurant, you can tell the place has been here for ages, but not in a glamorous, rustic way. Actually, anyone who pays attention to their surroundings would realize that this place needs more than a facelift, even for a diner-like burger joint. It’s even a trendsetting restaurant with a lobster burger and a craft beer list that rivals many gastropubs in Philly. The decor just doesn’t match. The green cushioned benches, brown tiled floor, school-esque lunch tables, orange chairs and yellow walls made me feel as if I was in my five year old cousin’s nursery (note to the restaurant: the black and white photo booth photos of your staff wallpapered on the walls may be cute, but aren’t helping the hodgepodge of color).
As this was my first time, I decided to order the PYT burger – a simple beef burger with cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, onions and tomato and topped with their signature PYT sauce (mayonnaise, salt, pepper, garlic, fried shallots, fried onions and a hint of brown sugar). The burger was cooked medium and tasted pretty good–not bad, but not great. With the burger was a side of waffle fries, good, but nothing different than what you’d make during a bbq in the summer.
The highlight of the meal was by far the shake: vanilla ice cream, caramel vodka, crushed butterfingers, creamy peanut butter and whipped cream. Also included on the adult shakes menu is a birthday cake shake (with a candle), Frozen Mexican Hot Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bacon Time (yes, bacon).
The waiter (who was awesome by the way) mentioned that PYT just agreed to a franchising deal. If they want to compete with the likes of Umami Burger and Shake Shack, they are going to need to step it up. When I asked him what PYT stood for, he replied, “it depends who you ask.” The owner, Tommy Up, is an “eccentric guy” who sometimes says it stands for “pick your topping” and other times says it means “pick your tab.” He’ll tell you it doesn’t stand for Michael Jackson’s song (P.Y.T. or Pretty Young Thing), but the waiter said some customers insist it does.
As Tommy Up franchises his PYT brand, he is also working on a separate venture: The Yachtsman, a tiki-bar to open this April on Frankford Ave.
Address: 1050 N. Hancock Street, Northern Liberties
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11am-2am, Sat-Sun: 10:30am-2am