Stephen Rushmore Jr.
Day 3: St. Louis to Dallas
Miles: Forgot to check, but at least 700
Roadfood: Onion burgers in El Reno, OK
Got up and on the road with only coffe. I had to get to Dallas for a small dinner gathering and had to get to El Reno for some burgers. I would like to thank Michael Stern for mentioning El Reno’s burgers on the recent Roadfood clam tour. It inspired me to take the side trip and was well worth the effort.
Today was an uneventful drive through the beautiful spring foliage of Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. You can really cover some ground with a 75 mph speed limit.
I got to El Reno just past 1:00, so lunch was still on. I had time for two stops so I settled on Sid’s and Jobe’s. Sorry, no pictures.
I stopped at Sid’s first. As I pulled up, the smell of frying onions wafted through the car’s open windows. I knew this was the right place. As I got out of the car the smell of those onions whacked me over the head and said "You must come inside!" I noticed a local truck driver had just parked his rig across the street and was headed inside as well. A good omen.
I walked in and sat down at the counter. I must admit that my first impression was "this is just like Steak ‘n Shake!" The balls of meat waiting to go on the grill, the squashing of the burger meat into flat patties, the buns toasting on the grill all reminded me of my favorite hamburger chain. But I quickly realized, this is the real thing. The roots of Route 66 hamburgers are here. Steak ‘n Shake just copied it. And in the last few years have added so much to their menu that they are losing touch with their burger and shake roots.
So what did I do? I ordered a burger and a chocolate shake. And the grill man smashed the onions into the burger as he put it on the grill. And I was served the perfect onion burger, with mustard and lettuce – no tomato for me this early in the season, thank you very much. And the chocolate shake was served with a spoon and a straw. And because all the shake would not fit in the glass, they left the stainless steel mixing cup on the counter so I could completely refill the glass after I had emptied it. A two for one shake.
And the grill man turned around to me as I was eating and said "Only one?" He was genuinely concerned that I had ordered only one of his great burgers. And I am such a big guy. I could easily eat two. I made the excuse that I was trying to lose weight, but I was just making sure I had room for Jobe’s burgers.
As I left the waitress said "Yahr not from around here, air ya." A statement, not a question. And they seemd very surprised that someone from New Jersey would have an interest in their litlle place. But when I said "I heard you had great hamburgers here" a look of understanding passed over their faces and they nodded good bye and told me to make sure that I came back.
So I went down the street to Jobe’s and discovered old Route 66. I grew up traveling old Route 66 between Chicago and St. Louis. I still travel the general route whenever I get the chance. But Jobe’s is situated amongst some old motels on what was old 66. If you want to know what it was like to travel before Holiday Inn revolutionized the motel industry by building on all the interstate routes, this is where you can find that answer.
Jobe’s still has the drive in system where you can order food from your car, but it no longer seems to be working. So I went inside. The atmosphere was that of an old hometown cafe, but not as homey as I found at Sid’s. It was after the lunch crowd had gone, and they even turned off the "Open" sign just before I left, so I guess I was their last customer for lunch. I had the onion burger as I had at Sid’s. It was nicely done, but not quite to the crispness that I found at Sid’s. This time I had a chocolate malt rather than a shake. I had forgotten the subtle difference the malt flavoring adds,21,203894.006,1,7586,220.127.116.11
203899,203894,203894,2006-05-19 08:18:40,RE: NJ to TX In Search of TX BBQ”