La Terrasse is French for "The Terrace" and Philadelphian for "Sucks"

Burger Breakdown

La Terrasse - Map It!
The LT burger gets lettuce and cheese, the UPenn gets gorgonzola and caramelized onions. They're the best use of grant money since grad school.
Medium-sized fries are included, with a heavy dose of salt. The better to drink beer with.

Van Morrison. When you walk into La Terrasse, you will hear  Van Morrison. Specifically, The Best of Van Morrison, which you probably haven’t heard since you were a UPenn undergrad majoring in chemistry (because if “Moondance” and pharmacology couldn’t get you laid, then brother, nothing could). La Terrasse is the UPenn undergrad of the burger world, offering cheap beer and playing The Best of Van Morrison because the bar is trying to rape you.

La Terrasse is like Cheers, where everyone knows your name as long as it’s “bro” and every conversation includes the phrase “what’s your major?” It’s fine if you’re a University of Pennsylvania undergrad, but it’s not fine to be a University of Pennsylvania undergrad, so it’s really like Cheers in that it’s only good if you’re a horrible person. It’s the kind of corner bar you’d only ever go to if you were abandoned alone on the corner with a stomach full of Smirnoff and a body filled with chlamydia. Laurence goes there all the time.

The Burger: Seriously, Van Morrison? Could there be a more stereotypical college album? La Terrasse has a Wednesday night deal, where you get a burger and a draft beer for $10. Your options are the LT Burger, with lettuce, onion and conspicuously no tomato, or the UPenn Burger with gorgonzola creme, caramelized Os and white entitlement.

Photo of the burger at La Terrasse

Kyle: Check this: I hate University City. I hate the schools and I hate the students. In fact, aside from Fishtown, hipsters, South Philly, Americans who call themselves Italian and drop the last vowel in “mozzarella” and “prosciutto” even though everything in Italian is supposed to rhyme, North Philadelphia, Philadelphians, America, and humans, I’d say UCity and its residents are my least favorite things ever. But I like burgers, so you know, melting pot.

Like everything in University City, La Terrasse wants so desperately to appear cultured yet fails so plainly in its endeavors. Bright red accent walls and expressionist paintings are betrayed by the fact that they don’t have utensils or napkins. And while the ever-repeating refrain from “Brown-eyed Girl” may remind you of your wealthy parents and their North Wales estate, your wealthy parents are assholes and you were conceived to that song. If you still play it while trying to seduce someone, ew.

After a longer wait than you’d expect at a relatively empty bar, our order arrived and to my surprise, didn’t look like something that comes packed 12 to a box. My choice was the UPenn burger, because I found it amusing that someone thought gorgonzola creme and caramelized onions screamed “university.” The burger seemed hand-made which is a plus in my book, but it had a fair amount of gristle and was unseasoned, with a mild beef taste mostly eclipsed by the flavor of nothing.

Photo of a burger at La TerrasseThe rest of the meal was equally forgettable. The caramelized onions were, at best, caramelized, while the raw onions and lettuce on the side looked like they were props on a live-action Nickelodeon show about puppets eating well. As for the gorgonzola creme... listen, I’ve made gorgonzola creme sauce, which means it can’t be difficult. Little gorgonzola, heavy whipping cream, some seasoning and magically you look like you know what you’re doing. La Terrasse’s mixture is the all-male freshman dorm equivalent: thin, stinky and with entirely too much cream.

There were three parts of the meal I enjoyed. The first was the bun, which was a flaky golden brown on the outside with a soft, slightly buttery interior that reminded me of a day-old croissant; if you’re a college student, I’m sure you can imagine that in a positive light. The second plus was the generous batch of fries, which were heavily salted with a dash or rosemary and fried with the skin on. The third, and most important part, was the beer. On Wednesdays they include a beer with your burger, but that’s not the beer I’m referring to. Rather, I’m referring to Laurence’s beer, because he goes on some hippy neo-teetotalitarian Hollywood detox diet every January, meaning I get to drink his beer. So if you go to La Terrasse with Laurence in January, you get a burger and two beers for $10, which is the only reason it’s getting a Rating: 5/10.

Photo of the burger at La Terrasse

Laurence: Going to La Terrasse in the winter is a little bit like going out with the class slut after she's been born again. The lovely dining room and deck just don't feel as vibrant in the cold early darkness of January. But we ventured to the University City pub for one reason: we're broke and we were called by the holy cry of $10 burger and beer.

When we went, we got the low end of the spectrum, which didn't much surprise me because when I dated our high-school slut she had just decided to swear off sex. I considered this strange bit of history as I watched the college sluts at the bar, fresh from their metamorphosis. Not long ago they too were high school sluts. Nature is miraculous.

I've eaten the $10 special at La Terrasse many times and it's always been a hit-or-miss experience, usually a little more on the miss side, but for a ten spot I'm not going to complain. At it's best the La Terrasse special has a thick patty, mild seasoning, and is cooked to order. At it's worst, it's overdone, oddly short in diameter but fat, and has a slightly gristly texture.

Of the two choices I opted for the LT Burger, which if you want to improve the flavor you'll need to increase the price by adding some toppings, which sort of defies the purpose of the $10 special doesn’t it? I went for bacon and caramelized onions, and was happy I did. The onions were soft and brought a savory-sweet balance to the otherwise unimpressive meat. The bacon was by no means fantastic but wasn't overly greasy or fatty.

In a wonderful play, the bacon and onions were smothered beneath the cheddar that comes with the burger, creating a sort of artery clogging semi-gelatinous delicious goo. This also may have been a bit of a trick to mask the fact that the cheese had very little flavor or bite. The bun too was less than exceptional, and while at least apparently homemade, it was somewhat dry and larger than the burger reminding me of the anorexic freshman girls who have decided it is acceptable to wear sweatpants or pajamas out in public.

Overall you get what you pay for with La Terrasse. Actually, that’s not really a good assessment because we’ve eaten many burgers for this price that are better, but most don’t come with a beer, and usually beer makes everything better. In this case I’m not sure the beer helped enough. Like I said, I’ve eaten the burger special here before and I’ll probably do it again but the chances of seeing me eating a burger at La Terrasse when the special isn’t on are about the same as the chances of having a conversation with UCity dweller college who doesn’t use the work “like” every other word. Like zero. Rating: 5/10.


Go to La Terrasse if Laurence is going to give you his beer. Otherwise, don't go to La Terrasse. Or UPenn.

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