The Metro's 10 Most Bodacious Burgers
photos by carli wentworth
Dare to proclaim the 10 best burgers in central Oklahoma and you’ll quickly have a beef on your hands. Certain hamburger fanatics defend their favorites with the determined intensity of a love-starved bull next to the world’s last cow. If their baby ain’t on the list, you’re gonna get gored.
That’s because a hamburger isn’t merely tasty charred ground meat between slices of bread. It’s patriotism on a bun. The great American burger beckons to the skinny and the broad alike with one majestically greasy message for all: Take my humble patty and bun and adorn me with all the bountiful foodstuffs of this grand land. When you think you’ve achieved the all-American dream of the burger to beat all burgers, go ahead and eat me.
Each new generation of Americans heartily thrusts its spatula high to accept that challenge. Oklahoma gave form to the Theta burger (hickory sauce, mayo, pickles, cheese) and El Reno onion burgers. Californians walked the cow through the garden and draped it with sliced avocados and bean sprouts. New Yorkers drenched a Wagyu patty in 10-herb black truffle butter and charged $295 for it.
A Slice crew of five, including noted food author and contributor Caryn Ross, pooled their collective expertise on some of the metro’s most cherished burgers, winnowed down the top contenders and journeyed to where the bun meets the kisser – burger joints and restaurants. (The most ambitious of the staggered taste tests bounced us between six hamburger spots in one generous “lunch hour.” It’s great work if you can get it.)
Ninety-nine thousand calories later, we present our choices for the 10 Most Bodacious Burgers in the Metro.
N. May Ave. at 35th St., OKC | 405.917.1711
The Jailhouse Blues Burger busts out of typical burger fare with bleu cheese crumbles, a butter-toasted sourdough bun and thick, peppery hickory-smoked bacon. The pressed burger and bun handcuff the tasting experience to the prime suspect in this great burger caper – superbly grilled local, farm-raised beef. (Jailhouse Blues Burger pictured above.)
THE SCIENCE OF BURGERS
Tucker's Onion Burgers
324 N.W. 23rd St., OKC // 405.609.2333 | 5740 N. Classen Blvd., OKC // 405.286.3331
Patty physics is essential to burger resplendence. Tucker’s employs the Oklahoma-style onion burger method: strings of thin, fresh white onions plopped on the patty and slapped into the meat with a spatula. The process loosens the ground meat, fusing onion flavor with savory juiciness from the Creekstone Farms black angus beef. Top it with American cheese for a magnificent
4200 N. Western Ave., OKC // 405.524.4203 | vzds.com
To compete with the metro’s top hamburgers, a ground turkey burger has to overcome a tendency to dry out and transform into a white hockey puck. VZD’s solves those problems. Their spiced patty incorporates diced peppers and onion to pump up the taste factor – it even looks like a burger! The house mayo and whole wheat bun round out a healthier, tasty triumph.
THE DIVE CLASSIC
1201 N. Pennsylvania Ave., OKC // 405.524.0999 | Limited Hours
Offering a burger and a show in a space the size of a boxcar, Justin Nicholas directs an all-star cast atop a flat-top grill stage: a half-foot-high stack of white onions, 8- to 12-ounce balls of ground beef he smashes down and a seductively daring spill of bright-green jalapeno slices. His greasy burgers’ secrets are complex, but one has to be what we could only call “chonions” – a triple threat of onion with deliciously charred ends, limp caramelized curls that bend to the tongue and pungent fresh bits with crunch.
S&B’s Burger Joint
102 W. Main St., Norman // 405.360.5726 | 5929 N. May Ave., OKC // 405.843.8777
20 N.W. 9th St., OKC // 450.270.0516 | 7745 S. Walker Ave., OKC // 405.631.0783
The Elvis is nothing short of a hunka, hunka burnin’ love. The signature ingredient is peanut butter. That may sound nuts (they use creamy), but it’s a light touch to add its flavor and not overwhelm the lettuce, tomato, red onion and bacon – or the pure beef taste of the lightly seasoned patty. The Elvis comes in smaller slider versions, but ask yourself this: What would Elvis eat?
O'HOW GOOD IT IS
O’Connell’s Irish Pub & Grille
769 Asp Ave., Norman // 405.217.8454 | oconnellsnorman.com
There’s something about bleu cheese and burgers. Even people who don’t like the cheese’s pungency often suddenly lose their objections when it’s combined with a disc of thick beef. The sweet and spicy flavors of O’Connell’s Buffalo Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger practically bite you back the instant you dig in. The spiciness is courtesy of buffalo wing sauce.
3409 Wynn Dr., Edmond // 405.509.2333 | 212 N. Harvey Ave., OKC // 405.601.6180
An occasional chalkboard special, the FFA Burger is worth waiting for the cows to come home. The agro-geniuses at Cow Calf-Hay crossed a patty of black Angus beef with Blue and Gold Sausage, the piggy pride of Jones, Oklahoma, and money-raising angel for countless football teams and school bands across the state. You know it’s sublime when the first bite into the layers of brioche bun, fried egg, American cheese, crispy lettuce, tomato and spicy mayo compels one taster to burst out with, “Oh my god! That is the bomb-diggety.”
FILL 'ER UP
601 S. Bryant Ave., Edmond // 405.341.5801 | 307 E. Main St., Norman // 405.701.7035
1024 W. I-230 Service RD., OKC // 405.601.4198 | eatatthegarage.com
It’s good that the Spicy Sriracha Bleu Burger is served in an upbeat bar/restaurant with a sizeable selection of beers. It’s the perfect complement for a hum-dinger of a hamburger with loads of grilled onions and jalapenos, then capped with bleu cheese crumbles. And it’s not necessarily a tongue scorcher: The spicy rooster sauce is infused in an aioli and the grilling tends to turn down the jalapeno heat.
THE SMOTHER OF ALL BURGERS
Ron’s Hamburgers & Chili
4723 N. May Ave., OKC // 405.943.7667 | 216 S Santa Fe Ave., Edmond // 405.844.7667
351 N. Air Depot, Midwest City // 405.733.7667 | ronschili.com
The Ron’s Sausage Chili Cheeseburger is decadence on a plate. A generous pour of red-grease chili all but conceals a sausage and beef burger with bun, mustard, pickles, fried onions – all topped with hot pepper cheese. This calorie king could easily be rebranded as Oklahoma lasagna. Don’t miss the trivia-laden menu for nuggets like this: Hamburgers don’t actually contain ham. (Sausage is another matter.)
BRING THE HEAT
Irma’s Burger Shack
1035 N.W. 63rd St., OKC // 405.840.IRMA | 1120 Classen Dr., OKC // 405.235.IRMA
The Fire Starter (some call it the “Twisted Fire Starter”) is aptly named. It smolders with spicy heat, but it’s not likely to burn down your house. More juicy than greasy, it’s a “wet” burger with green chili-pepper juice, pepper jack cheese and smoky chipotle ranch sauce. Order up with the NoName Ranch beef option for Wynnewood goodness.
The Last Bite
Yes, we know what you’re saying … probably out loud, scaring the pets: How could we leave out Sid’s, Bunny’s, Johnnie’s, et cetera, et cetera!? Like we pointed out before, you can’t fence people in when it comes to their favorite burgers. These just happen to be ours – and that’s no bull.