Burger Tour 2011: Swenson's

Last Summer it was the Cincinnati Chili Quest. And besides missing out on Blue Ash Chili (which I intend to ascend before August is out) – I believe, by your readership that it was a success. So the foodstuffs programming has become a priority for W.O.W. Now? We enter the world of the Mom and Pop Burger Tour. Yes, I admit that much of my ongoing Burger Tour has been wholly inspired by George Motz’s excellent Hamburger America book and the accompanying Hamburger GPS iPhone application, but being from Ohio, I am in a fairly perfect centrality to much of America’s hamburger origin.

I plan to make this Tour much more extensive than the Chili Quest, if only because I intend of venturing outside of the Ohio borders to evaluate the many genre of hamburgs. Therefore, Burger Tour, in direct inspiration from the excellent Pizza Slayer will have a “fair and balanced” metric to determine whether a burger pilgrimage was worth the effort. Though we thought we could just measure the quality of these burgers with “pickles” (Adam’s ideas), here are my determined criteria:

History/Tradition/Current Atmosphere 
(Has it stood the test of time? Does the charm enhance the experience?) 

The Burger 
(How does it taste compared to the myriad American burgers?) 

The Hype
 (Was it worth the trip? Does it hold up to the hype?) 

I fully intend to rank these burgers in a critical light, not unlike albums reviewed on P4K.
So that assumes that the ultimate burger is a perfect 10.0 -- should that be possible among the myriad American burgers. 


658 E. Cuyahoga Falls Avenue
Akron, Ohio

The Hamburger GPS was what initiated by Burger Tour. Driving home from my first trip to New York City this year -- I consulted the application for a place to eat lunch in Akron. I knew by the depth of history, that you can easily just see from the interstate, there would be something worth stopping for in Akron. Little did I know about the wonder of Swenson's.

Though the car-hop motif has been a staple for a very long time -- Swenson's has been serving their double-deckers since 1934 -- and this drive-in has been here for almost 50 years. I imagine nothing has changed. The "servers" literally sprint from car to car, depending on your headlights being on or off, to serve you. It got a little confusing for me because I ordered "to-go" burgers, but they were always grateful and friendly to be doing what they were doing everyday. 


I ordered the Galley Boy. It won a Food Feud on some network a few months back -- and they were certainly correct (though I have yet to have a Skywae). I'm not sure if the Big Boy came before the Galley Boy or not, but they were similar. A special sauce (similar to tartar) on a double decker thin pounded cheeseburger. Everything was assembled to accent concentration of flavor. It was a masterpiece.

Atmosphere -- Though I encountered 4 separate servers within the time I was there, and the delivery was much longer than anticipated, but everyone was friendly, the surroundings were very Akron-centric (worn to a quaint character) and the restaurant looked and operated as if it were an institution in the community for years.


Burger - This is the best double-decker I have ever encountered. Swenson's is setting the bar high for this genre -- and I've been to Frisch's a million times all over the world at this point. The Big Boy is only a memory.


Hype - Swenson's was easily accessible off the interstate. In fact you can face the interstate while you eat from your car if you want. Any trip to Cleveland, Akron, or Canton -- or a travel farther East, should include a stop at the many Swenson's locations in North East Ohio. Though I can probably vouch that the North Akron location is the most authentic (correct me if I'm wrong). Most people I've met from this area agree with the Food Network's assumption that Swenson's tops Skywae in the double decker department. Most people from the area swear by Swenson's. So it was certainly worth the trip and worth the hype. 


Not only am I following the path of the Burger GPS, but I'm taking your suggestions. K's in Troy -- is NOT on the Burger GPS, so that's a perfect example of how Motz is negligent of knowing them all. 

No comments: