Monday, December 05, 2005

Make Mine a Cheeseburger

So a while ago I was having dinner with some of my family members at Johnnie's (for you non-Oklahoma Cityans, Johnnie's is a much-revered burger joint and something of a local institution), and my brother casually mentions that he is so sick of burgers that he doesn't think he could eat another one ever again.

Now, aside from such a pronouncement sounding like an Arby's oven mitt's wet dream, I was mortified because ... well ... because I love burgers. Frankly, I can't imagine a world without burgers. For a moment, I thought he was speaking in tongues.

Perhaps I need to put my love of burgers in context. OK, so maybe I don't love burgers the same way I, say, love my wife or my still-percolating child, or even in the same way I love my 1960 Carl Yastrzemski Topps rookie card, but make no mistake, I do love burgers. I'm with the folks of A Hamburger Today, a blog after my own heartburn, which celebrates all things burgery. If there is food in heaven (and despite what the Church of Calista Flockhart teaches about the matter, I'm sure there is) I'm betting that Saint Peter and his posse like nothing more than a fat greasy slab of Angus beef topped with melted cheese, onion and tomato, all nestled in the goodness of a hot bun (and get your mind out of the gutter).

The best burgers I have ever had, in ascending order:

5. Red Robin
None around these Oklahoma parts, but a staple of my diet when I lived on the West Coast once upon a time.

4. Fatburger
From a time I spent living in Los Angeles, I have ridiculously nostalgic memories of gorging myself on these monstrosities at 3 in the morning after a night of college-fueled drinking. In retrospect, I'm not even sure they were hamburgers.

3. Johnnie's Charcoal Broiler
An Oklahoma City tradition since the early 1970s, or at least it always was in the McInerney household. My mother is addicted to the joint. If it were up to her, every single family event -- weddings, funerals, graduations, reunions, child-custody hearings -- would be held within the confines of the quasi-original location on N. Britton Avenue.

2. Tommy's Original Burger
A Los Angeles institution. I am reasonably sure I loved their burgers back when I lived in that fair city, but to be honest, I was usually too hammered to know for certain (see #4).

1. Ron's Hamburgers & Chili
Old-fashioned, artery-clogging goodness in various Oklahoma City locations. A single Ron's specialty burger (usually a burger slammed together with a slab of sausage or whale lard) could transform Mary-Kate Olsen into a Viking helmeted-opera singer.

Major disclosure: I have never tried what in these here parts is the legendary Meers burger in the town of Meers, Oklahoma. I know, I know; it's an unpardonable sin.

Addendum: And if such burger talk still doesn't have you singing praise to the all-American sandwich, check out this 1980 training video for Wendy's (via just jared).


At 8:10 AM, Blogger CGHill said...

You're not getting out enough. There's a Red Robin in Norman (along Ed Noble Parkway near the I-35/Main Street conglomeration) and one going up south of the Super Target, about NW 138th and Pennsylvania.

At 8:52 AM, Blogger Chase McInerney said...

Great -- if I'm not getting out enough now, I shudder about how a newborn will impact my burger-hunting. Thanks for the info on Red Robin, Charles.

At 9:00 AM, Anonymous albert brooks said...

Of course there’s food in heaven. I’m just worried it will only be available cafeteria-style. In fact, I’m worried that all of heaven will seem like a retirement village – inoffensive muzac, lots of Hope & Crosby flicks, and (shudder) no open bar. And you just KNOW we’ll all be forced to go to church.

Anwyay, if the place does exist, you just invalidated your ticket by failing to mention Oklahoma’s greatest non-football contribution to society – Goldie’s. And I’d like to give a special, fast-food shout-out to Braum’s.

At 10:01 AM, Blogger Dr. Pants said...

Oh Chase, you've made me so happy.

First off, much love to Ron's, the only place I know that serves a hamburger with a slice of ham on it. Oh, and the Spanish fries. I need a sanitary my pants.

I'm also a Braum's guy and a Johnnie's guy, but Red Robin isn't exactly setting my world aflame.

What I can tell you is that you, me, Mrs. Chase and Poppy are going to Meers, OK. Poppy has been itching for that roadtrip for a while and I think it's time to make that pie-plate hamburger dream a reality.

Damn...I'm totally getting a burger for lunch now.

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous turtle said...

I'm shocked that your list of burgers from the Los Angeles area did not include Big Kahuna. Sure, it was made hip, then passe, by it's mention in the Pulp Fiction screenplay, but I finally got to try one a couple years ago when visiting friends and they are truely something special. Plus, they are just a stand-up operation with outstanding business practices. Ask anyone who's worked for them.

As for my favorite OKC burger joint, well, it's been shut down by that out-of-control juggernaut Chesspeak which bought up all the property up and down Western Ave. Yes, Abraham's Onion Burgers served the best in town for my money, even if you always left there smelling like a grease pit. Watching Abraham himself standing and sweating over his grill and throwing tantrums at his "girls" for every little mistake is a lunchtime memory I'll cherish for years.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Ceres said...

I don't consume sweet little cows anymore, but when I did I thought Braums was the best with Sonic coming in second. Now I get the best veggie burger from Johnnie's.

At 2:27 PM, Blogger Larry Mondello said...

Gotta provide a posthumus tip of the greasy bun to Longneckers, former OKC hamburger haven.

Also, Fuddruckers is at the top of my list. Stores all around the country, including Tulsa.. but not OKC.

At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Biff Meat said...

Red Robin's definitely an asset -- the burgers are sufficiently ginormous but not necessarily in the Meers, burger-with-its-own-tariffs-and-trade-policy category. They definitely know how to throw the starchy slabs around -- unlimited fries to fill up yer guts real good. Plus, you can get liquored up on the premises.

Yeah, Chase, I miss Fatburger, too -- reminds me of the old days in late-'80s LA, getting coked up with Jami Gertz, listening to the Bangles singing Simon and Garfunkel and having Bobby Downey pass out in the passenger seat on the way to Palm Springs.

At 10:39 PM, Blogger LilRed said...

Where the hell is the love for the Norman Goldie's on Lindsey?

At 8:59 PM, Blogger CGHill said...

Abraham is still at his grill. Try 1 N. Hudson.

At 9:45 AM, Anonymous TokenLiberal said...

Have to agree with Turtle on Abe's Onion Burgers. Something about the sight of Abe sweating over the grill -- with the sweat actually dripping on the grill and the onion-covered burgers frying there -- is both apalling and appealing. Those were the best burgers I've ever eaten.

A Dallasite now, my vote goes to Snuffers.

Oh ... and by the way ... is returning soon.

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Mustang Bobby said...

In New Mexico they have Blake's Lottaburger which features Angus beef and the best onion rings I've ever had. Get the burger with green chile and you're as close to burger heaven as you can get.

I live in Miami (Florida, not Oklahoma) now and there isn't a really good burger place other than the Fuddrucker's chain. Ironically, this is the home of Burger King, and I think they suck outloud with cheese.

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous anycollegestudent said...

OK now I want a burger and my awful college makes AWFUL (yes, the caps are necessary) burgers :(

At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in New Mexico and I can't go long without a green chile cheeseburger from Blake's. If any of you are ever out this way, you've gotta try it!

About the LA area, how can you leave out In n Out burgers with the grilled onions? mmmmmmm! Man do I wish they would migrate east!

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are opening a Fuddruckers in Oklahoma City on the south side at I240 and S Penn. I love their burger bar there, reminds me of the old Longneckers...

At 4:14 PM, Blogger bernynhel said...

You don't get out much, huh? The Meers Store and Restaurant Meersburger - 7" dia. of TX Longhorn beef from the Meers own herd, Sollys Butterburgers in WI - Dyer's Burgers in Memphis deep fried in burger grease that's never been tossed out since they opened in 1912! (ona roll now) In LA, (here) Tommy's double bacon chili cheeseburger PLUS a fried egg & onion rings!!!! (3am after hours hair of the dog)


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