I have eaten some spectacular meals at some of the finest restaurants in Oklahoma, but if you want to find the way to my heart through my stomach, make me a cheeseburger. It is, in my humble opinion, the perfect food. Got protein, got some carbs, and, with lettuce and tomato..a salad. Culinary balance in one delicious package. Oh yes! I am salivating right now. Don't just take my word for it, look to Jimmy Buffett for advise on how to reach Paradise on a plate. Or, consider this, when Waylon Jennings asked his wife, Jessi Coulter, where she wanted her 25th anniversary dinner, she told him Hank's Hamburgers in Tulsa. Hank's is one of Oklahoma's great burger joints, boasting a giant four-patty monster, The Big Okie.The Big Okie burger is not for the fainthearted or the diet-conscious but it could provide four days rations in case of emergency. If that isn't enough, if you ask them, they will make one bigger than that. Oh my!
Around lunch time in Mangum, Oklahoma, the town square fills with wonderful smells radiating from the Hamburger Inn. The aroma of grilling meat is an intoxicating path to the Inn and makes it almost impossible not to follow your nose. In fact, you might find that your feet don't touch the ground as you are pulled toward the source. Mangum's Hamburger Inn has been feeding hungry folks for 80 years and was the first in what became a chain of Hamburger Inns around the state.
Bonnie Parker & Amy Darden show the Hamburger Inn's creationsOwner Bonnie Parker and her crew know how to turn out near-perfection on a bun. The restaurant has expanded far beyond the original 15X15 space and added an extensive menu that includes lots of other things besides burgers, but the burger is still king here and you can have it your way.
Hamburger Inn, Mangum, Oklahoma
You can't mention hamburgers in Oklahoma without talking about the legendary Meersburger. The community of Meers, on the north side of the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, consists really of only one thing, the Meers Store and Restaurant. The Meersburger will stun you when they deliver it to your table, totally covering the plate and cut into four pieces because it really is that big. It also is made with longhorn beef, 97% lean, so you get a modicum of healthful intentions. As big as it is, it really is only 8 ounces of meat-longhorn beef doesn't shrizzle, so it is an honest 8 ounces. Owner Joe Maronto has a legitimate claim to serving the best burger in Oklahoma and one of the best in America-really.
Meers Store & Restaurant
There are some outstanding Oklahoma-grown burger chains that serve mouthwatering burgers. Sonic, on a large scale, (come on, admit it, Sonic makes some tasty burgers), Ron's Hamburgers and Chili, born in Tulsa and expanding, and Irma's Burger Shack in Oklahoma City. Ron's features a gigantic big-as-a-plate burger, half beef, half sausage, covered in award-winning chili and topped with cheese. Gut-buster, indeed!
Ron's Burgers & Chili
Irma's BurgersThe signature Irma's burger is made from all-natural beef from the No-Name Ranch. The two Irma's locations in Oklahoma City are packed for lunch and, yes, despite all the other things on the menu, the burgers are the most popular. Irma's has transformed a simple dish into art.
Irma's Burger Shack
These are just a few of Oklahoma's outstanding burger joints and there are far too many to write about in one short blog. For instance, I didn't even touch El Reno's famous onion burger spots. I'll save that for another time.
People ask me all the time about my favorite restaurants and I find it hard to answer that question because it all depends on where I am when I get hungry.
There is no hesitation when I am cornered about my favorite food, though. I love to wrap my hands around a bun filled with ground beef, topped with cheese, garnished with lettuce, tomatoes and onions, dripping just slightly with enough grease to add flavor...I think I just killed any latent vegetarian thoughts I might harbor. RIP veggie burgers.