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DAN’S OL’ TIME DINER: Onion burgers so good you could cry

Louis Fowler / Red Dirt Report
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Purely Oklahoman, the onion burger is one of those local things that it’s hard to explain to outsiders about. Invented in El Reno during the Depression, the lack of fresh meat was made much more expansive through the addition of a handful of fried onions and, wouldn’t you know it, it caught on and now just about every diner from here to the panhandle proclaim theirs as the best. And they’re usually right.

Sometimes I think subconsciously I’ve made it my personal mission, my reason for being, to see who’s really is the best. Everytime I see the words “onion burger” on a sign and then catch a whiff of those fresh-cut folic-acid faeries flitting through the air, it’s impossible to not want to put them to the test. To put them all to the test. That’s why as soon as my pal Jerry recommended I try Dan’s Ol’ Time Diner, 8433 S. Western Ave, I didn’t even have to think twice.

Located in a not too ol’ fashioned shopping center, Dan’s has been around since 1982 and the insides look like it, filled with mismatched chairs and tables, maroon carpeting and a huge collection of Coca-Cola kitsch from around the world. It’s a look Okie-diner fans are used to. But, like I always say, you came to eat the food, not the furniture.

And eat the food you must! The menu is slim, featuring mostly onion burgers, alongside patty melts and grilled cheese, with fries and tots being the big side items. Here’s another Louis rule: anytime there’s a menu item with the owner’s name, you just have to order it, at least out of respect—here it was the quarter-pound Big Dan onion burger ($4.50) with large fries ($3.20). There was also the half-pound Double Dan ($6.85), but even that seemed like too much for me at that moment—I still had things to do and that would’ve surely knocked me out. Practicing moderation is for the birds, I tell ya.

One thing I truly loved about Dan’s even before biting into the burger is the toppings bar, allowing you, the consumer, to truly make it your way. I wish more burger joints would this idea, I thought as I dropped four or five tomato slices on my already onion-entrenched burger, liberally alongside other classic vegetables like lettuce, pickles and jalapeños. As well as more fresh onions—I can never have enough.

This burger had to be more than a quarter-pound, even before my additions—it was like lugging a brick in a basket. I sat down and promptly bit into the absolutely juicy beef patties just swimming in enough greasy fried onions to make a grown man cry; you know that mnemonic feeling that’s causing your mouth to water right now? The real thing is a million times better—be impulsive and act on that now!

Additionally, the hand-cut French fries, another staple, are a meal unto themselves—a large order should feed a family of four, or at least two fat guys. It should all be washed down with a Coke, of course, because Dan’s serves nothing but. It’s quite apropos.

So, I guess thanks for the tip, Jerry. You were right: Dan’s Ol’ Time Diner serves a darn fine onion burger and it is just another shining example of the perfection that is this Oklahoma classic. If you’re in that part of town—and if not, head there ASAP—stop by for lunch and order up a Big Dan—the toppings bar is right behind you.

Dan’s Ol’ Time Diner
8433 S. Western Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73139
Phone: (405) 634-8806

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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