Mace’s Crossing the best burgers in Philly?

Mace's Crossing Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The entrance sign stopped us from trying to enter via the window.

Mace’s Crossing back dat time up

Welcome back inebriated readers to the Pot & Pan Handler’s malicious blog, Mace’s Crossing edition. Mace’s Crossing is the building that time and the health department forgot and the story of an underdog. Seriously, besides that president douche in Hunger Games who doesn’t like an underdog?  As an American male with ketchup in my veins I enjoy the story of an underdog. To illustrate, Mace’s Crossing is in Philadelphia home of the Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa. The movie Rocky comes in as one of the greatest underdog stories of all time. So without further ado here’s the story of Mace’s Crossing.

Rocky Statue outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Art Museum
Spoiler Alert: Rocky loses. Oops, too soon?

The building that would one day become Mace’s crossing was built sometime in the 1870’s as a carriage house. There it stood on Cherry Street. Decades went by and the little carriage house served a variety of purposes. Soon city development and the famed Benjamin Franklin Parkway cut a swath of redevelopment all around the little carriage house that could. It still stood. Although every other property was replaced with city property, institutes, museums, parks, libraries, statues, squares, monuments and good intentions. Gentrification before it was cool throughout the early 20th century.

Mace's Crossing in the shadow of the Windsor Apartments Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mace’s Crossing in the concrete and glass shadows of Lord Business.

Nothing personal, it’s just business, LORD, business.

Then the luxury apartments happened, the Windsor, luxury suites and apartments for the business elite. With shopping, restaurants and bars all tucked in a quaint little box wrapped with a bow. Or giant palatial monolith wrapped with concrete, if you can see. The developers of this skyscraper wanted the little carriage house or at least the tiny little place on earth that it occupied. The owners said no. And in a rare display of drive by integrity, justice took a break from the miscarriage and allowed the little carriage house to stay.


In November of 1975 the Sex Pistols had their first show. Californians were pretending to be someone else at the 8th annual Comic-Con. And in Philadelphia brothers James and Robert Bernard bought the little carriage house. One year later they opened Mace’s crossing and started slinging burgers and beers. 50 years later they’re still slanging burgers there today, in the little carriage house that could. Same bat time, and same bat channel.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Sightseeing Tours
A Double Decker bus that’s not a food truck yet somehow.

Tour Guide if that is your real name

My relationship with Mace’s cross began when I took a Double Decker bus tour, you know the type, you can hop on or off at various tourist attractions and the ticket is good for two days. Before I hopped off of the bus, the tour guide, made me confront my own mortality, ruined Rocky, slandered cheese steaks with cheez whiz, and recommended Mace’s Crossing as the purveyors of the best burgers in Philadelphia.

Tour Guide Philadelphia's sightseeing tours
I gave up running for lent or something.

Mortality confrontation; it turned out this tour guides claim to fame was he’s one of the little kids who ran up the steps behind Rocky in one of the most iconic images in the franchise. Nowadays he is no spring chicken, and his appearance would suggest that any run up a flight of stairs, will be about as likely as his access to foods that aren’t fried.

Ruining Rocky; after this confrontation of mortality, he told us how Sylvester Stallone only ran up 11 stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum and a stunt double took over and ran up the rest of the steps.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Art Museum Steps
11 steps up Sylvester Stallone took a nap. Italian Stallion indeed.

Slandering cheese steaks with Whiz, he preached; “Cheez Whiz is one molecule away from plastic.” “Not a healthy choice.” As if fatty steak on a white roll with provolone is an otherwise healthy choice. Seriously, everything is one molecule away from being something else and Cheez Whiz is the remedy to an otherwise dry cheese steak. Besides that, a lecture on health from someone who has limited access to foods that aren’t fried seems counter intuitive.

Cheese Steak with Cheez Whiz
This is how you cheese steak.

As the tour bus passed Mace’s Crossing the tour guide mentioned that they have the best burger in Philly.  When pressed about dining choices he said; “There are so many excellent local restaurants in Philadelphia, there’s no reason to go to chain restaurant, the local joints are better.” Finally, an opinion he stated in which I agree. Maybe I will check out those burgers.

The Next Day

It was time to get touristy, and my bus ticket was still good so I took it back to a different tourist attraction. The tour guide was a different dude. When asked about dining options he waxed poetic about the Chili’s, Applebee’s, Hard Rock Café and other corporate ilk, except when talking about burgers. When it came to burgers he said Macy’s Crossing has the best in Philly. When an absolute localvore and a corporate shill can agree on where to get burgers, those burgers are probably pretty damn good. I knew where I’d be going when I got off this tour bus.

Mace’s Crossing

I went back to the hotel to get the Pan Handler, as unashamed burger whores, we had to go. Once we got there we walked in to find Mace’s Crossing is almost as dusty as it is small. Our entrance is punctuated with the wet sneeze of a cocktail server. We take our seats and glance around, what struck us at first as dusty, upon closer observation is dirtier than just a little dust, it’s kind of dirty. Taking a brief pause between sneezes the cocktail server takes our order, cheeseburger, fries, a side salad and a bowl of chili.

As the server walks away she intersperses our order with a couple more healthy sneezes. “Achoo!” “Achoo!” Fortunately for everybody involved she never washed her hands, whew, because that’s not disgusting at all. I made that last part up; it was not only disgusting, but a health department violation to boot. Eventually Sneezy McSneezeface brought us our order, again, without washing her hands first.

Cheeseburger at Mace's Crossing Philadelphia. Pennsylvania
Mmmm sneezy.

The food

Liberally topped with cheddar/jack cheese the burger was good. Not great, certainly not the best in Philly, but better than a fast food burger, if that’s your barometer. The fries were rubbish, poured out of their very finest plastic bag into a fryer. Mace’s Crossing didn’t even bother to add salt perhaps feeling a liberal dose of sneeze was enough seasoning.

Salad From Mace's Crossing Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mmmmm dirty.

The salad; was a garden variety textbook overlooked restaurant side salad with a little onion, carrot, tomato and cucumber. I wouldn’t complain except the salad was literally dirty.  Unwashed, this lettuce still had soil from the ground it was grown in clinging to it. Mace’s Crossing’s chili on the other hand, was exceptional. Mad seasoned it tasted of chili powder, meat and comfort. Topped with a little perfunctory onion and a generous amount of cheese, that bowl of chili is the one thing that we’d go back to Mace’s Crossing for.

Chili from Mace's Crossing Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This chili is excellent, comfortably sneezed.

Just kidding, we’ll probably never go back to that filthy, sneezy place. Which is too bad, with Mace’s Crossing’s history as the little carriage house that could, we wanted to like that place. Oh well, next time we’ll get burgers at the Good Dog Bar, but that dear readers, is another post.

Coming soon; our travels take us to Arizona, where we go to the Barrio and are introduced to Comida chingona at the James Beard award nominated Barrio Café.

Barrio Cafe, Phoenix Arizona
It’s a comfortable dry heat, just kidding it’s hot.



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