Review by: Michael Stern
Memorable | One of the Best
Oklahoma’s Thick Onion Burger
Justin Nicholas, aka Nic, grew up eating onion fried burgers, and still loves them. But when he opened Nic’s Grill, he went the other way. Rather than smashing little balls of beef onto the grill then pressing onions into them hard with a trowel, he sets half-pound rounds onto the grill and presses down just once – enough to flatten the patty and make sure its surface connects well with the iron. Instead of a flat, lace-edged hamburger that weighs less than a quarter pound, he creates Oklahoma’s juiciest onion burger.
Regarding onions, Nic wouldn’t dare pressure them into the meat as it cooks. He will not commit burger abuse! But onions are essential. He cooks them on the grill alongside the burgers, then piles them atop the sizzling pillows of beef. Finally he covers the onions with half a bun. That gently infuses the bread with the scent of onions, burger, and well-seasoned grill.
The Well-Dressed Burger
The burger itself is a gorgeous mess: a raggedy mass of ground beef, fatty enough to glisten and ooze juice, its edges slightly crisped from the flattop grill, the whole thing smothered in onions, some of which are translucent and limp, others caramelized amber, a few sizzled to delectable crunchiness. The package (which should include pickle chips and may also be festooned with a couple of slabs of bright orange cheese, bacon strips, and jalapenos) is barely contained in a bun.
Nic does not recommend lettuce and tomato because they slither around and destabilize the sandwich. But you can have them if you wish. And while you can ask him to apply ketchup, he contends that mustard is better.
How To Eat The Burger
The resulting package is huge and hugely messy. So messy that Nic offers a specific technique for getting it from basket to mouth. He cuts the sandwich in half. He says to get a good grip on one half with your left hand. Hoist it and start to eat. Do not put it down at any time until you have eaten it all. “Use your right hand to pick up the curly fries,” he explains.
Curly Fries Are Essential
They make the fries right here. They cut them, they blanch them, then they dunk them in the fry basket and boil them in oil until they turn curly-crisp. Nobody who eats at Nic’s gets a hamburger without fries.
Eat Anything You Want, So Long As It’s A Hamburger
What if you don’t want Oklahoma’s juiciest onion burger? Go somewhere else. Half-pound hamburgers are the only thing on the menu.
Nic’s The Star
Nic spends much of his time at his second restaurant downtown. It’s got a bigger menu and longer hours, but when he’s there, he’s not here! And that’s a sad state of affairs, because half the fun of eating at Nic’s Grill is Nic himself. When he is on board, his personality is overwhelming. He takes all the orders, does all the cooking, and hands the burgers out to each and every eater. While doing all that, he also maintains high-spirited dialogues with nearly all his customers. You won’t find a short-order chef more passionate about his calling.
Note that Nic’s Grill is minuscule: a tiny diner with a short counter and a few tables along the windows. At normal mealtime, you likely will have to wait for a seat.
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