By Laci Jones
Not long ago, a friend of mine recommended a hole-in-the-wall burger joint in the heart of Oklahoma City. Many Oklahomans claim Nic’s Grill burgers are the best in the state. The burger joint was rated among the top 10 burger joints in the United States in 2015, according to TripAdvisor.
I heard the restaurant was small, but I didn’t realize how quaint Nic’s Grill is until I walked through the metal door on Pennsylvania Avenue. Nic’s Grill seats about 17 people with some standing room. The restaurant had only two tables with chairs and the rest were barstools.
Knowing there would be a possibility of standing in line to get a taste of these famous onion burgers, I arrived thirty minutes after the doors opened on a Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. Fortunately, I did not have to wait when I found a seat at the butcher block bar.
It was cramped sitting elbow to elbow with the other customers, but it oddly didn’t feel claustrophobic. While waiting to order, I made small talk with some of the locals. When I asked how often they eat at Nic’s Grill, one of the men joked, “We don’t come here often, just Monday through Friday.”
Sitting at the bar gave me a front row seat to all the action at the grill. Two people were working the entire restaurant—one manning the grill while the other took care of the customers. The small grill had a large pile of onions caramelizing along with sliced jalapenos, mushrooms and bacon.
Their menu was displayed on a television above the food prep station. Nic’s Grill had a limited menu, but if you are famous for burgers, why serve anything else? Among their menu items is a chicken fried steak dinner with a chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy and a vegetable, but that meal will have to wait for another time.
I ordered their cheese and everything burger, which is exactly what it sounds like, a burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, caramelized onions, and mustard or mayo. Diners can add extras like jalapenos, mushrooms and bacon for an additional charge. I watched the cook throw several beef patties down on the grill and heard the most beautiful sound in the world—the sizzle of meat on a flat-topped grill.
Sipping on my Dr. Pepper, I waited with anticipation as the cook flipped the burgers and topped them with the already caramelized onions, cheese and the top bun. He turned to each of us to ask if we wanted any extras or exclusions, but I opted against anything extra. In fact, I was impressed he kept track of which burger excluded tomatoes and which had bacon.
After ten minutes, which felt like an eternity, the waiter slid the burger basket in front of me. The caramelized onions were spilling over the burger, which was cut in half. The burger was served with curly shoestring fries and a fork.
Read more about this visit in the August issue of OKFR!