This pleasant suburban restaurant with an outdoor patio under tall silver poplars is one of a small local chain that built its reputation on hamburgers. Big hamburgers, about the size and shape of a toy football: one-half pound of rosy beef, encased in dark crust, arrives at your table with dark rye bread, the implication being you could eat it like a sandwich. But it is too big to easily pick up and the juicy red meat tends to fall apart. So you dig in to the meat mound with knife and fork. A Hackneyburger comes with French fries, cole slaw, and sliced raw onion. Those in the know pay extra for a fried onion loaf – a great tangled brick of oil-glistening, fried sweet Spanish onions with a devilish crunch.
Hamburgers are Hackney’s glory, but we must also tip our hats to daily specials that have been on the menu at least since we became regular customers back in the 1960s: bratwurst on Monday, hot turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes on Tuesday, meat loaf on Wednesday, corned beef and cabbage on Thursday, and a crunchy fish fry on Friday, when the choice includes Midwestern favorites lake perch and walleye pike.
Autumn is a good time to visit, for Octoberfest. You’ll have to choose between the burgers and bratwurst with German potato salad and braised red cabbage. For dessert: warm apple strudel a la mode.