Strong statement? I think so. It was intentional. Over the last few months, there has been such a hubbub about Sonic's. You know the Drive-In Restaurant chain that serves you right in your car. What a novel concept. Not. Cleveland just opened their first one in the area to rave reviews. I knew years ago that this chain wasn't all that it says it is. It's novel and you all know when the novelty wears off. You realize that you have been to this drive in so many times, you realize that what you are eating is close to dog food. I think some people of Cleveland think this is a new concept. Many know that those people are wrong.
I am not all that old, but what I wouldn't give to live in that time. Drive your land yacht with the tail fins to the drive in and order a burger, fries, and a vanilla coke. It's no secret I am a burger fanatic. They are lovely. Probably the most simple of concepts, but yet, no two burgers ever taste the same. The All Ohio Burger from The Greenhouse Tavern is heads and tails different from the Bar Symon Burger at Bar Symon, or even more different still than the Fat Doug at B-Spot and both the Bar Symon and Fat Doug are made by the same chef. Burger King vs. McDonald's. Wendy's. You get the picture. Simple yet diverse.
The burger dates back to around 1885 when the Menches brothers were vendors at Erie County Fair. They ran out of sausage for their sandwiches so they decided to use beef instead. This of course is just one of the many stories about how the hamburger was invented. There are too many to mention, but I would like the think that the legend of the Menches Brother's is the most true account. 1. Their Story is believable. 2. They are from Akron, just a hop, skip, and a jump from Cleveland, Ohio.
I tell you these stories to tell you yet another story. Akron is not just home of the brilliant inventors of the hamburger, but it is also home to the first ever Swenson's Drive-In.
Last night I experienced Swenson's for the first time, and boy, it was everything everyone said it was. The concept is not much different than that of Sonic, except they forgo the speaker boxes in the car stall. Their menu is printed on paper and not a monstrosity of lights and color much like a McDonald's drive thru. The car hops run to your car and use pencil and paper to take your order and don't rely on a squawk box. They don't use a call button, but just have you turn on and off your headlights. You know, the way it was before there was all that impersonal technology. I know I know, a shocking statement coming from a guy like me, but that's a different blog for a different time.
Swenson's is a slice of Americana placed right into my car seat. Wifey and I ordered a double cheesburg which was fantastic. After I ordered Wifey one-upped me when she ordered a slice of bacon on her burger. Why the hell didn't I think of that?
Along with a burger we order vanilla cokes. How wonderful is it to have a real vanilla coke. Not that crap in a can that they sell at your local grocery store. Despite the several inches of snow on the ground, Swenson's was busy. Plenty of cars in the lot. The car hops were right there and attentive. Just to illustrate this point, I must tell you this. I pull the car in. They saw me pull in and by the time I slid my fat assed SUV into the parking spot, the car hop was running to the car, and by the time I had the car in park, she was ready to take my order. How unbelievable is that!
To tell you this burger was the best burger I ever had would be a lie. It was good, juicy, well done, but not so good I would say that it was the best burger in the world. But it sure beats the shit out of Sonic, McDonald's, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, Burger King, Arby's, and even Whataburger.
Swenson's burgers are amazing, truly amazing. I could live on these burgers, but I'm pretty sure I would develop a heart condition and then die, but at least I would die happy. If you are in Cleveland, coming through Cleveland, or once thought about wanting to come to Cleveland, you need to mark this place on the "must visit" list. Forget Sonic's. Find a Swenson's!
Yarn and... teeth.
2 years ago