Swensons | Drive-In Burgers Fries and Shakes | Akron Ohio

Review by: Michael Stern

Drive-In Americana

There are a bunch of Swensons around Akron, some in Columbus, even one down Cincinnati way. They razed the very first one (in Akron since 1934) several years ago. In its place, Swensons built a modern, retro-designed restaurant. Old-time burger connoisseurs say they miss the well-aged charm of the original establishment. But the burgers fries and shakes still earn accolades, even from long-time customers. And service is a blast from the past.

Pull into a space and flash your lights. Out sprints a curb boy to take your order. Apparently, most customers know the kitchen’s repertoire so well that menus are superfluous. We didn’t get one until we requested it. Anyway, choosing what to eat does not present a problem in this place. The vast majority of customers get what Swensons is famous for: hamburgers.

Burgers Are What Matter

Burgers come on nice butter-toasted buns, with or without cheese. Choose a double, a triple, a quarter pounder, a half pounder, or the house special, a Galley Boy. That’s a double cheeseburger dressed with two sauces. Mayonnaise dominates one sauce, which adds bits of sweet onion. The other sauce is zesty BBQ. Fried sides include potato puffs (shredded fried potatoes), potato teezers (with cheese & jalapeno), onion rings, and mushrooms.

Beyond Burgers

Burger frowners may tuck into a quarter-pound bologna sandwich, a sloppy joe, a BLT, fried chicken or fried shrimp. Milk shakes and malts have earned fans for decades. There always are 18 flavors, including hot fudge (as well as chocolate), pineapple, and butter. And there’s always one seasonal shake. Adventurous thirsts might want to consider one of Swensons’ specialty drinks: a California, Florida, or Ohio. Respectively, grape, orange, and cherry-flavored, they remind me of Kool-Aid.

Where To Eat

There are no indoor seats. Burgers fries and shakes to be eaten here are presented on sturdy trays that can clip onto the inside of car windows in such a way that it’s possible to dine in comfort even when it’s raining.

What To Eat

Galley Boy

One Quart California

Sloppy Joe

Fried Zucchini

Onion Rings


Milk Shake


Swensons | Drive-In Burgers Fries and Shakes | Akron Ohio Recipes


What do you think of Swensons | Drive-In Burgers Fries and Shakes | Akron Ohio?

2 Responses to “Swensons | Drive-In Burgers Fries and Shakes | Akron Ohio”

Bill Berger

February 1st, 2022

Loved that place especially the onion rings. Now in CA so can only dream about them


Pennie Stringer

November 24th, 2007

The burgers are the main claim to fame at Swensons. The warm, slightly sweet bun holds a thin but flavorful burger. I like mine as a cheeseburger, with pickle, onion and ketchup. If you order the Galley Boy, you get two patties, two sauces, and cheese, with a pimento-stuffed olive skewered on top. You can even order a side order of olives (three come in a little waxed paper bag, 25 cents I think).

The fries are good; crisp on the outside and soft and hot inside. Their milkshakes are homemade and good, but my favorite beverages are the Florida and the California. The Florida is made with orange soda mixed with seltzer and a lemon slice. The California (my favorite) is made with grape soda, seltzer, and lemon slice. These are less sweet than your typical soft drink, and the lemon slice adds a bit of tartness.

They have other items, ranging from salads to shrimp dinners to hot chipped ham sandwiches, but the hamburgers are just so good!

Dinner is served in your car. A speedy carhop (recruited from local high school sports teams) comes to your window to take your order as soon as you pull in. Service is fast, and they can arrange your tray on the inside of your window if the weather is less than ideal.

Swenson’s, like its local competitor, Skyway, is the real thing, in business since at least the 60’s; not a faux retro drive-in. The quality food and good service keep Akronites coming back again and again.


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