There are a bunch of Swensons around Akron. The first one (since 1934) was razed a while ago. A modern, retro-designed place was erected in its place. Akron burger connoisseurs tell us they miss the well-aged charm of the original establishment; but the hamburgers still are something special. 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. And besides, the vast majority of customers get what Swensons is famous for: hamburgers.
Oh, what a selection of burgers, on nice butter-toasted buns, with or without cheese: doubles, triples, quarter-pounders, half-pounders and the house specialty, a Galley Boy, which is a double cheeseburger dressed with two sauces, one mayonnaise-style with bits of onion added, the other zesty barbecue. Beyond these fundamentals the menu lists a quarter-pound all beef bologna sandwich, salads, soups, fried chicken and shrimp. Among the beverages are milk shakes and malts, something called a California (reminded us of Kool-Aid), and half-and-half (tea and lemonade). French fries are listed as “Only Idaho’s,” the apostrophe having migrated from the restaurant name, Swensons, which doesn’t contain one on the outdoor sign or menu.
There are no indoor seats, but meals to be eaten here are presented on sturdy trays that clip onto the inside of car windows in such a way that it’s possible to dine in comfort even when it’s raining. These good burgers in this classic setting are a Roadfood paradigm.