We know. It’s hot. It’s summer in Oklahoma. Cool down by sampling cocktails that local bars and restaurants have concocted just for you. Find a nice, air conditioned space or a shaded patio and while away the hours drinking the flavors of summer. You might decide it’s not that bad after all.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock, Shannon Cornman and Lauren Hamilton
There are a wealth of new local eateries cropping up in the metro and even more coming. If they’re not on your radar, they should be. From the comfy atmosphere at The Barrel on Western Avenue to the laid-back vibe at the Plaza District’s coffee shop, you might find a new regular hangout.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
HD's Onion Burgers
12417 N. Rockwell
What works: El Reno-style onion burgers in OKC
What needs work: Grilled chicken sandwich could use more flavor.
Tips: closed on Sunday
If you look on a map, El Reno is so close. It’s just right there. But while a 30-minute drive from my house might not seem like much, when you consider how long it takes to wrangle my kid and deal with traffic, it becomes almost insurmountable.
Which is why I’m glad our neighbors to the southwest have exported some onion burger joints our way — like HD’s Onion Burgers, which expands on the classic El Reno menu in a few delicious ways.
First, however, let’s address that onion burger ($3.95). HD’s is all about the customer service, so if you’re one of those sick weirdos who doesn’t want delicious grilled onions on your burger, the staffers will do as you ask. In fact, owner A.J. Jamali said they’ll do almost anything you ask (within reason). You want double onions? You want easy onions? You want the onion flavor without the onions? HD’s can do it.
The burger itself is simple, savory and delicious. The onions are thinly sliced and grilled dark. The beef is smashed into them, absorbing the rich flavor. My recommendation is to get it with cheese and pickles. Leave the tomatoes and lettuce off, as they distract from the flavor. Add a bit of mustard and welcome to Flavor Country.
Another take on an El Reno favorite is the Top Dog ($2.99), HD’s version of a slaw dog. It’s a tasty treat that tops a bright red hot dog with chili, cheese, onions and a mustard slaw. My only complaint — the dog needed to be a little warmer. Otherwise, very satisfying.
Jamali told me that the fries ($2.39 a half basket, $3.39 for a full order) are hand-cut daily and it shows. These aren’t as crispy as I usually like, but there’s plenty of moist potato flavor to make up for it.
If you’ve got a big, blazing hot griddle and you want to do more than burgers, a Philly Cheesesteak ($4.99) is a natural progression. This one is nicely done, especially with the addition of jalapeños. If they run out of hoagies, they sometimes serve it on Texas toast. It can get a little soggy, but it still tastes good.
Do you really need a grilled chicken sandwich ($4.75)? Sigh. Look, HD’s has a grilled chicken sandwich. It’s fine. It does the job. Moving on.
HD’s also does a gyro (and Jamali is very proud that they make their own tzatziki sauce.) I appreciate giving people more options, but I’ll be honest — you should be getting the onion burger. Everybody should be getting the onion burger. If you’re allergic to onions and, I don’t know, enjoying life, then maybe you should go someplace else.
Oh, and one more thing, HD’s makes its own delicious cakes ($2.99 per slice). I had some chocolate/banana/ almond that was pretty good. And the strawberry jam cake could be used in a strawberry court of law as evidence why it’s OK to jam them.
The onion burger is one of the things that makes our state great.
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.