Robert’s Grill: the great OKC onion burger tour, part four
Memorial Day for me means the annual drive in the covered wagon to El Reno with Mom and my husband to tour the cemetery and look at all of the dead relatives (sigh). Mom has to check the fake flowers on top of all the headstones that she places when she drives out by herself, and to see, if by chance, the ugly ones that somebody else placed are gone. “I can’t believe this desolate place is where I’m going to end up someday,” I think to myself. But at least I’m getting a good onion burger out of the trip.
Yes, this trip to El Reno also means touring my second onion burger joint in the hometown of the original onion burger. Robert’s Grill is small — there are 14 stools at the bar and that’s it. If you can fit, you stand right behind the people who are sitting and breathe down their necks in hopes they’ll finish really soon. The place is a little warm, temperature-wise, and very crowded, probably due to the fact they’ve been in business since 1926.
Edward Graham, the current owner, says they serve about 300 burgers a day. He’s developed a scientific technique to squashing the handmade balls of hamburger into patties, globbing on the onions, then flipping everything at the right moment. The burgers arrive in front of your face might tasty and piping hot. Mom was glad the fries came out first and pretended she was eating some sort of elaborate appetizer as she mixed the mustard and ketchup on top. She also held court and got to know the life story of everyone within shouting distance. She knows this drives me crazy and therefore, continues to do it at every restaurant we patronize.
Anyway, Robert’s pricing is easy to remember — $2.45 for a burger, a coney or an order of fries (which was easily shared by two people). The burgers are a nice size — not really small like some onion burger places, but not huge and unmanageable. The chili coneys also looked really good. I got a glimpse as the man next to me was feasting on them.
The pricing on burgers is a little cheaper than at Johnnie’s Grill, which is just down at the next corner. This, plus the fact that Robert’s burgers are a little bigger makes a pretty compelling case for Robert’s. On the flip side, Johnnie’s has more space in their dining room so it’s a good option if you’re claustrophobic or looking to breathe a little easier in your space.
Robert’s Grill is definitely a contender for your onion burger patronage. They’ve got plenty of that old Route 66 atmosphere and all the home-grown people who go along with it. Next time you’re in El Reno, I recommend you check it out and compare it with your other favorites. When you do, leave us a comment and let us know what you think. And also be sure to let me know if I haven’t hit on your favorite onion burger spot yet.