Johnnie’s Grill

Review by: Michael Stern

Oklahoma’s Unique Onion-Fried Burgers

In the burger-rich state of Oklahoma, Johnnie’s Grill stands out for its onion-fried burgers. Onion perfume permeates its air. And it will permeate your clothes for hours after you’ve eaten here. This is the aroma of El Reno, a small town just west of Oklahoma City at what once was the junction of Route 66 and the Chisholm Trail. While you’ll find onion-fried burgers throughout the state, El Reno has built its culinary reputation on them.

What exactly is an onion-fried burger? Order one and you will not get a burger topped with fried onions. In one of these unique regional treats, onions are fried right into the meat. Johnnie’s grill chef mashes see-through thin slivers of onion deep into the top of a patty of ground beef as it cooks on the grill, resulting in a hamburger that is an intertwined mix of meat and caramelized onion. When the burger is flipped, onion sweetness permeates the meat as it sizzles. The united package of salty meat and veggie sweet finds its home in a bun, onion side up. Top it with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and pickles if you wish.

Coney Island Hot Dogs

Onion-fried burgers star on Johnnie’s menu, but there’s more. When you eat here, be sure to have El Reno’s unique version of a Coney Island hot dog. This fine mess of a wiener — a knife-and-fork affair virtually impossible to pick up without major spillage — comes topped with meaty chili and strange, soupy slaw. Pickly, sweet, and mustard-tweaked, the slaw works wonders. Local epicures like it so much that many get it on their burger. Some people simply order a bowl of it for spooning up alongside whatever else they eat.

Breakfast, Too

Onion-fried burgers and Coney Islands are the regional specialties here in El Reno. But we also recommend breakfast at Johnnie’s. Early morning, locals pack the little cafe to chat and chew and tuck into great platters of biscuits and gravy, pancakes, omelets, and chicken-fried steaks.

What To Eat

Onion-Fried Burger

Coney Island Hot Dog



Johnnie’s Grill Recipes


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