Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Review by: Michael Stern
El Reno, Oklahoma, Must-Eats
Sid’s onion-fried burgers and Coney Islands are a great taste of El Reno, Oklahoma, just west of Oklahoma City along old Route 66. They cook the burgers here in such a way as to mash onions into the beef patty as it cooks. The process fuses the sweetness of onions with savory beef in a mouth-watering charred embrace. The town of El Reno is famous for burgers cooked this way. Sid’s belongs on the itinerary of anyone passing through town in search of truly local flavor.
But wait, there’s more! As if having one unique culinary specialty didn’t suffice, El Reno — population 16,729 — offers another dish you won’t find anywhere else. Of course, you can eat Coney Island hot dogs nearly everywhere in the nation (except, oddly enough, anywhere near Coney Island, New York). But you will find none like those served in the city’s burger joints. The wiener won’t surprise you, nor will its bun or chili. But atop this configuration, El Reno hot dog chefs add a great spill of wet, finely chopped cole slaw that delivers a one-two punch of mustard tang and relish sweetness. Sid’s slaw is especially spicy.
Milk Shake Too Thick For A Straw
Few dishes inspire the desire for a milk shake more than burgers and hot dogs. Sid’s satisfies that desire with milk shakes so thick that they require a spoon as well as a straw.
A Diner Rich With History
Travelers come to Sid’s not only for onion-fried burgers and Coney Islands. It serves, quite literally, as a town museum. One wall is covered with pictures of those who have served in the armed forces. Using eleven gallons of clear epoxy to seal some 450 images onto the top of the counter and the tops of tables, proprietor Marty Hall (son of Sid, for whom the restaurant was named, and father of current proprietor Adam Hall) arranged countless images of El Reno’s past. Mr. Hall’s visual history long predates the birth of the onion fried burger in the 1920s. It goes back to the legendary Southern Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle, who, despite his unending efforts to make peace with the U.S., was killed west of town by George A. Custer’s forces in the Battle of Washita River.
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What do you think of Sid’s?
3 Responses to “Sid’s”
June 13th, 2022
My favorite place. But don’t forget the breakfast. Can’t even describe how good 😊
July 3rd, 2012
Choosing Sid’s was simple. I had two dogs with me and Sid’s has outdoor seating. Couldn’t have picked a better place for my onion burger.
The staff at Sid’s is as nice as their burgers are good. When I asked if I could snap a few pictures of the inside, I was invited to come behind the counter. What a treat! I was able to watch the entire process of making an onion burger up close.
As for my onion burger, I drove several hundred miles out of the way to El Reno, Oklahoma on a trip from Los Angeles to Dallas just to try one. On my next trip to Dallas, Sid’s will be a destination stop no matter how out of the way it is. My burger was cooked perfectly, not greasy, and the onions took it over the top. I also ordered a coney dog, which was a bright red hot dog covered with a ground meat chili and coleslaw.
November 30th, 2006
Though which of the original onion-fried burger proprietors is the most authentic is a hotly debated subject among locals of this frontier hamlet, one thing is clear: El Reno deserves it’s rightful place among the culinary “must-stops” along America’s roadways. For those that know, the onion fried burger, coney (with slaw) and peel-on fries comprise a holy trinity of mouth watering bliss. This is literally comfort food gospel.
The burgers are prepared by starting with a ball of ground beef. This is covered with a mound of sliced onions that’s twice the mass of the meat. With several whacks of the spatula, the paper-thin onion slices are infused into the meat patties and meld into a gooey whole. Buns are placed atop the patty while grilling to absorb any juices that get away. The coneys are slender pink hot dogs covered with chili sauce and a local trademark slaw that has a sweet/sour interplay, incorporating notes of mustard, vinegar and sugar. Fries are freshly cut from skin-on spuds and are served hot. Milk shakes start out as real ice cream, not as the tasteless ice milk glop typical of the national burger chains.
For travellers just passing through, I implore you to get a dozen onion-frieds to go after your meal proper (they freeze and reheat surprisingly well). See how long you can resist the aromatic perfume emanating from the bag before you partake of another, and another, while they’re still warm. In this writer’s opinion, relative latecomer Sid’s slightly edges out the other burger stands, but that’s hair-splitting. All of the four local burger stands deliver the goods in the time-honored tradition of El Reno burgers past. It’s the unlikeliest of epicurian highlights of any cross-country trip. Months ahead of time, I eagerly anticipate my pilgrimages back here from 1300 miles away. Yes, Virginia, it’s THAT good! Don’t miss!