Irma’s Burger Shack: does ‘no name’ beef really make a difference?
Irma’s Burger Shack is fairly well-known around the Oklahoma City metro. Their flagship restaurant near 63rd and Western is generally packed during the lunch hour as hoards of hungry people from Chesapeake Energy and elsewhere crowd in to grab a lunch. I ate at the original Irma’s restaurant once a while back and enjoyed it, but I became even more interested in Irma’s when I saw they were opening a second location at Plaza Court in midtown OKC. Since I live in a historical neighborhood near this area, I am very happy to see new restaurants moving in. So, I had to give Irma’s II a try.
First of all, I just have to say what a great location, and what a great renovation they’ve done. Credit is due to the developers of the property as well as the folks at Irma’s. If you haven’t been to this area of our great city, you really should check it out. The whole area around Plaza Court is getting built up with restaurants and the Plaza Court building itself is a real architectural treasure. Irma’s corner space, in particular, is so inviting as huge windows seem to wrap around the whole restaurant. Come on down and check out a piece of history sometime.
Ok, on to the food. I took up a special mission on this trip to Irma’s. I wanted to find out if their famed “no name” beef really made a difference. You see, at Irma’s you can get a burger made with special beef from a private herd of cattle at the No Name Ranch in Wynnewood, OK. On their website, they make a big deal about this special breed of cattle and that it is raised naturally with no pesticides or hormones or any of that stuff. Sounds great, right? Well, I wanted to find out for myself. Does “no name” beef really make a better burger?
In a word: yes.
I tried them both side by side in an effort to bring you my official verdict and, in my opinion, there is a huge difference in texture between the two. The “no name” patty was cooked all the way to well done, yet still moist and juicy, with an almost crumbly texture that sort of melts in your mouth. The regular patty, cooked similarly, was much more dry and the meat was a bit compressed. Both burgers had great flavor, but this texture really made the difference. My wife, who runs screaming at the site of any pinkness on a piece of meat, was really pleased that she could get a well done burger that still had some life to it.
It’s this type of commitment to quality that really makes Irma’s great. They’re not trying to be fancy, but whatever they do, they do it very well. The onion rings are hand-breaded. The fries are fresh cut in-house. The burgers are seared first on a griddle to lock in juices, then flame-grilled the rest of the way. Whenever possible, you can bet that Irma’s is taking the extra steps to add just that little extra touch of quality and flavor to all of the simple foods they serve.
All this extra attention to quality comes at a price, though. The basic, “no name” burger is $7 ala carte. Add cheese for $0.50 plus a side of fries for $2, a drink for $2 and you’re at $11.50 for one person, plus tax and tip. Now, I’m pretty cheap and spending upwards of $12 on a burger meal stretches me a bit, but what I really care about is value. Does the quality of the meal justify the higher price tag? In Irma’s case, I’d have to say “yes,” and judging by their history of long lunchtime waits, I’d also have to say that a lot of people agree with me. I tell you what, I’ll drink water, split some fries, leave off the cheese, and focus my funds on the “no name” beef and the all-around quality you can only get at Irma’s.