When it comes to an American favorite, there’s nothing better than savoring a delicious burger.
The great thing about the seemingly modest hamburger is that these patties are prepared in what might just be endless varieties, from the simple patty with ketchup, mustard, pickle and onion to a bevy of gourmet options. And don’t forget cheese!
Many restaurants in the Akron area offer creative takes on the beloved burger. The possibilities are vast, with one local eatery even pairing its patty with pepper jack cheese, bacon, peanut butter and hot jelly.
We’d expect nothing less from locally owned burger joints, considering Akron’s claim to be the birthplace of the hamburger.
Five hungry reporters rose to the task of noshing at our favorite burger spots, from drive-ins to a variety of sit-down eateries, just so we could share them with readers. Here’s a sampling of the many Akron-area restaurants where you can enjoy a great hamburger.
Wise Guys Lounge & Grill
Address: 1008 N. Main St. in Akron’s North Hill
Hours: 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, kitchen open 4 to 9 p.m.; 3 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, kitchen open 4 to 10 p.m.Facebook: facebook.com/wiseguysgrillakron
It’s a hidden treasure. Somewhere between the 22-ounce Angus Rib-eye and the Garlic Charred Halibut at Wise Guys Lounge & Grill is the half-pound Big Laddie burger, one of the jewels of North Hill.
Owner Tom Procaccio's father, Vincenzo “Jim” Procaccio, and uncle, Mike Procaccio, started Ladd's in the 1950s. They made the Big Laddie famous.
The popular burger joint on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls is long gone; however, the famous burger lives on. “I thought I would honor them by bringing it to Wise Guys,” Procaccio said.It’s two quarter-pound burgers stacked with mustard, pickles, onion and American cheese. But you can order it any way you want.
I ordered mine the way Vincenzo and Uncle Mike made it. The burger also comes with hand-cut fries and sells for $14, except on Tuesday, which is $10 Burger Night.Procaccio recommended a $7.50 glass of Larsa garnacha from Spain, which was an excellent pairing with the burger. For a few dollars more, a $40 bottle of Beringer Knights Valley cabernet will take your wine pairing from great to spectacular.
— Phil Masturzo
Address: 3700 Massillon Road, Green
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday
With its 50-burger menu, Menches Brothers has a burger for everyone — even that one person you know who’s obsessed with pickles. (Have them try the frickleburger.)
Seriously, try finding another place to get a burger topped with coleslaw (California burger), fried cheese sticks (cheese sticker burger) or even corn dogs (the dawg pound burger). Each one comes with fries, homemade chips or tater tots, and most burgers are under $13.
Munching on Menches: Menches Brothers serves burgers, stellar cupcakes in Green: Local Flavor
According to family lore, America wouldn’t have hamburgers if it weren’t for the Menches owners’ ancestors, Charles and Frank Menches. According to family documents, the pair created the first burger after running out of sausage on an especially hot day at the Erie County Agricultural Fair in Hamburg, New York.
With a rich history and a wide range of burgers to choose from, Menches takes the cake. Speaking of cake, be sure to grab one of their scrumptious homemade cupcakes during your visit.
— Tawney Beans
Main Street Saloon
Address: 1481 S. Main St., Akron
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday
Sometimes you just need a simple yet delicious burger. It’s at those times when a trip to Main Street Saloon is in order.
This Akron restaurant is known for its Jumbo Burger, a half-pound of juicy hamburger meat with pickles, onions, mustard and ketchup. That’s it: No onion rings or secret sauce, just a delicious burger topped with the essentials. Also, chances are it won’t break your bank at only $8.
The menu also features other, more decorated hamburgers like the Jumbo Stuffed Burger (Jumbo Burger stuffed with jalapeños and your choice of cheese) and the Blue Cheese Burger (Jumbo Burger dipped in hot sauce and smothered in blue cheese).
Often imitated. Never duplicated: Local Flavor: Main Street Saloon in Akron lives up to its motto: ‘Often imitated. Never duplicated’
The restaurant and its Jumbo Burger were created by David Kennamore (also called "Big D"), who died five years ago. David’s other focuses included helping the working class and his community, which is why Main Street Saloon provides free sack lunches to neighborhood children on weekdays during the summer. His daughter, Marlene Denholm, and granddaughter, Brooke Kennamore, run the restaurant nowadays.
— Tawney Beans
Address: 797 E. Market St., Akron
Hours: By appointment only Monday to Sunday
Picture this: You’re eating a juicy burger and fries in a leather recliner and your favorite movie is playing on a 100-inch screen in front of you.
It may sound too good to be true, but you can have that exact experience at Screen Suites, a dinner theater attached to Akron’s Alexander Pierce Restaurant. You may be wondering, “What in the world is a screen suite?” Essentially, it’s a private suite with its own dining room, bathroom and high-definition theater.
But back to the burgers at hand. On the menu is a Barbecue burger ($15), comprised of a house-blend patty, aged cheddar, barbecue sauce, crispy onions, lettuce, red onion and sweet and spicy pickle chips. The dish is also served with fries (with or without truffle butter).
In addition to good burgers and a big screen, each suite has a self-serve candy bar, Dolby surround sound system and décor fitting the restaurant’s cinema theme. At Screen Suites, customers can enjoy their burger while watching anything streaming online or on Direct TV, including TV shows and live sports games.
— Tawney Beans
Address: 1351 East Ave., Akron
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday
If you are searching for a burger joint with a classic diner feel, look no further than Bob’s Hamburg.
The Akron landmark opened in 1931 and has served delicious hand-pressed hamburgers within an old-fashioned streetcar diner ever since. Walking into the restaurant is like stepping back in time. Part of the charm is its simple seating and red, white and black color scheme, but it’s the hamburgs that really turn back the clock.
Bob's Hamburg's 90th anniversary: New Bob's Hamburg owners celebrate 90th anniversary with 90-cent burgers, fries
Bob’s Hamburg serves thin burger patties on locally made toasted buns with a whole list of toppings and sauces to mix and match. A personal favorite is the rodeo cheeseburg (minus the cheese) ($8) because all burgers are better with the sacred trio, BBO — bacon, barbecue sauce and onion rings.
— Tawney Beans
Address: 710 Canton Road and 2685 Manchester Road, Akron
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday and Sunday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
The Hamburger Station in Akron proves a good burger doesn't have to be the size of your head.
These smaller size burgers still pack a lot of flavor.
I'm a fan of the Speed Pack ($7.69 and slightly more if you add cheese) that comes with two hamburgers, a generous portion of fresh-cut fries and a drink. When you get it to go, it comes in a handy white box and the drink comes in a Styrofoam cup that has a fun dancing burger and onion logos on it.
It is appropriate that the cup pays homage to the onion because I believe it is what makes this burger so special. The thinly sliced onions pair nicely with the thin burger and the fresh-baked buns that are not like boring flat ones found elsewhere.
The first Hamburger Station opened on Main Street in downtown Akron in 1975 and now just two remain of this locally owned eatery.
And that's a real shame.
The burgers also come with pickles and mustard.
The Hamburger Station's motto is "ketchup is for your fries," and normally I would beg to differ. Ketchup is a staple on my burgers, but there's something really special about the flavor of these burgers, and who am I to argue with a formula that's been around for nearly a half a century?
— Craig Webb
Address: 3265 W. Market St., Fairlawn
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Sinking my teeth into a delicious half-pound burger at The Rail in Fairlawn was a memorable experience at this family-friendly restaurant with a hip ambience at Summit Mall.
It's the original location for the The Rail burger bar, which owners Mike and Emily Mariola opened in 2011. The couple, based in Wooster, where they also own The City Square Steakhouse, also have a Rail restaurant in SouthPark Mall in Strongsville. Others are in Dublin and coming to Grandview Heights, both in the Columbus area.
The Rail prides itself on its all-Ohio gourmet burgers made with beef from local farms. A cool upside-down cow serves as the restaurant's logo, paying homage to all-Ohio pride by listing Ohio's 88 counties within a big cow on the restaurant's back red wall.
My husband and I shared the awesome Blue Bessie ($16.25), which featured a perfectly medium rare burger along with sauteed mushrooms, fresh spinach, blue cheese, tobacco onions and horseradish sauce on a brioche bun. The tangy blue cheese and zingy horseradish created a fantastic flavor combination and the skinny fries that came on the side were super tasty.
We also sampled two of The Rail's dozen Ohio draft beers. I enjoyed the Rhinegeist Truth ($6.50) dry IPA from Cincinnati while my husband savored the Millersburg French Ridge IPA ($7.50).
— Kerry Clawson
The Farmer's Rail
Address: 2231 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls
Hours: Kitchen and bar open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
The Farmer's Rail in Cuyahoga Falls is a spiffy, bright place with its pristine white tile on the walls and below the custom cement counter where folks can sit and eat. It's an artisanal meat and butcher shop that also has a delicatessen-style eatery in it, featuring cool seats and tables made with reclaimed wood.
Here, the burgers are made with beef from The Farmer's Rail owners' own Brunty Farms in Ashland. The restaurant uses beef tallow to make smash burgers, which are smashed down and cooked until they're no longer pink.
The end result is a burger that's cooked medium or medium well.
I ordered the original T-F-R burger ($13), two Brunty Farms beef patties with American cheese, caramelized onion, house burger sauce and homemade pickles on a brioche bun. The yummy house sauce is made with ketchup, mayo, Worcestershire sauce and a little pickle juice.
My friend adapted the mushroom and Swiss burger ($15) to order provolone on her two Brunty Farms beef patties with caramelized onions and mushroom on a brioche bun. Burgers are served with house fries accompanied by a delicious house-made garlic aioli.
The Falls eatery seats 32 inside and a total of 32 outside, including a front patio and back deck. Opened in June, 2021, it offers seven burger choices, while the Hudson location, whose kitchen opened full time in December, 2021, offers only the T-F-R and turkey burgers on its more upscale menu.
— Kerry Clawson
Whitey’s Booze N’ Burgers
Address: 3600 Brecksville Road, Richfield
Hours: Kitchen open 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday, 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday
It was a four-napkin night for me recently at Whitey's Booze N' Burgers.
That's because I ordered the March burger special — the Bogie — at this iconic Richfield burger spot, established in 1953 by the the late Harry R. "Whitey" Bigadza, whose family continues to run the joint.
Our waiter assured me the Bogie ($9.99) burger of the month was one of the smaller, less-messy burgers on the menu, which features 15 burger varieties. The Bogie is topped with two handmade potato pierogi, cheddar cheese and sauteed sweet onions, served with a side of sour cream.
With the gooey goodness of the melted cheddar, the soft pierogi and a slather of sour cream, I had a happy mess on my hands.
Add a side of crispy onion rings for $6.99 and a cup of Whitey's famous original beef chili for $5.49, and what more could you ask for?
Other burger choices run from the Hot & Sticky — featuring a pepper jack cheeseburger with bacon, lettuce, peanut butter and hot jelly — to the Kiev burger, served on Texas toast with chopped onion, Monterey Jack cheese, Whitey's chili and sour cream.
This old-school restaurant, whose wood-paneled dining room has a lodge-like atmosphere with decorative birdhouses on the walls, is cash only and doesn't accept call-in orders.
— Kerry Clawson
Dilly’s Drive-In, Ellet
Address: 1921 Triplett Blvd., Akron
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
You're experiencing iconic Akron when you go for a burger at Dilly's, a classic drive-in restaurant on Triplett Boulevard in Ellet.
It's fun to see carhops on the go when you order from the old-school menu of burgers, coney dogs and milkshakes. The drive-in also has some of the best views in town, situated across the street from Derby Downs, the Rubber Bowl, Akron Airdock and Akron Fulton International Airport.
One of the eatery's signature items is the Double Dilly Burger ($5.40), a double burger with two sauces (homemade recipe tartar sauce and homemade recipe barbecue sauce), cheese and dill pickles. Dilly's 1/6-pound burgers are made from a secret recipe that gives them some sweetness, said owner Steve Laughorn, who runs a second location in Cuyahoga Falls.
The Double Dilly is actually the eatery's No. 2 hit: The most popular item is the double cheeseburger, which doesn't have the two special sauces. If you order everything on it, you'll also get mustard, pickle and onion.
— Kerry Clawson
Ido Bar & Grill
Address: 1537 S. Main St., Akron
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; appointment only Sunday and Monday
If we’re talking about the best burgers in Akron, the Ido has to be included in the conversation.
Steve and Marcy Baker, the owners of the Ido Bar & Grill since 1998, promote the place as a “down-to-earth tavern serving burgers, steaks and other American and global dishes in a relaxed setting.” The yellow-brick building is nearly 100 years old.
“The Famous Ido Burger” ($12.99) is an Angus chuck and beef brisket blend topped with grilled mushrooms, onions and American cheese.
Juicy, delicious and served on a fresh bun, it has the perfect ratio of mushrooms to onions. Now I understand why this burger is famous.
As a side, diners get a choice of chips, french fries, green beans, hot rice or applesauce, or they can pay a little more for onion rings, coleslaw or cottage cheese, which cost $1 extra, or mac ’n’ cheese, which is $1.25.
I went with the onion rings. They are thick, crunchy and simply out of this world.
Let me tell you, this meal was amazing.
— Mark J. Price
Akron Family Restaurant
Address: 254 W. Market St., Akron
Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Akron Family Restaurant might best be known for breakfast because it’s served all day, but the lunch and dinner menu should not be overlooked.
The family-owned restaurant offers a mighty lineup of suppers, sandwiches, salads, soups, sides and specials.
But we’re here today for burgers, aren’t we?
Established in 1986, the West Hill landmark features several $9.99 sandwiches, including the Mushroom Burger, Bacon Burger, Patty Melt and Black & Bleu Burger. They come with chips, but customers can upgrade to french fries and coleslaw for $1.99 or sweet potato fries and coleslaw for $2.99. There are also black bean and vegetable burgers (both $11.89) served with pepper jack, green peppers and sweet potato fries.
I recommend the Baja Burger ($9.99), a thick, sizzling beef patty served on a sesame seed bun with pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, green peppers, lettuce and tomatoes.
Tasty, juicy, zesty, crunchy … it’s all of these and more.
The Baja Burger is so big that you’ll be tempted to cut it in half and save the rest for later. I happily ate mine in one sitting.
Then I waddled outside and tried to remember where I parked my car.
— Mark J. Price
Address: 40 S. Hawkins Ave., Akron
Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday; and 11 to 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Believe the hype. Swensons is incredible.
As a teenager, I used to add sugar to ground beef in a vain attempt to re-create the sweet-tasting burgers at the Akron drive-in. Swensons cannot be duplicated.
It was a treat to revisit the West Akron restaurant, a stone’s throw from the original Wallhaven site that Wesley “Pop” Swenson established in 1934. I’ve been dining there for decades — along with the North Akron location at 658 E. Cuyahoga Falls Ave., which was one of my high school hangouts.
Swensons now has nearly 20 locations from Akron to Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati. Turn on your headlights for service. The carhops come running.
I ordered the Galley Boy ($4.50), the drive-in’s famous double cheeseburg with two special sauces on a toasted bun, garnished with a green olive on a toothpick. I had always thought the sauces were a trade secret, but my bill was marked “Swen BBQ” and “Tartar Sauce,” so maybe the mystery has been solved.
The Galley Boy is ridiculously delicious — and you can quote me on that. This is a heavenly combination of burger, cheese, bun and sauce. Every bite is a delight.
The Swensons menu also includes the Half Pounder Plus ($7.50), Triple Cheeseburg ($6.90), Triple Hamburg ($5.70), Quarter Pounder Plus ($4.80), Double Cheeseburg ($4.40), Double Hamburg ($3.85), Cheeseburg ($3.30), Hamburg ($2.70), and for vegetarians, the Salad Boy ($5.15), a veggie burger alternative to the Galley Boy.
I rounded out my burger with a vanilla shake — there are 16 flavors on the menu — and an order of fried mushrooms with ranch dressing. Absolutely scrumptious.
— Mark J. Price
Address: 897 Wooster Road W., Barberton
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
Hodge’s Cafe has been a Barberton institution since 1975. Its legendary $7.25 Hodge Burger has been voted Best Burger in Barberton for 30 years running.
I could barely walk after I finished the massive burger with the half-pound, hand-pressed patty. It takes a person with Shaquille O’Neal-size hands to hold the darn thing. The original Hodge burger comes with lettuce, garlic pickles, tomato, onion, mayo, mustard and ketchup. Cheese is $1 extra. You'd better come to the popular Wooster Avenue joint with an appetite. If you can palm a basketball, then the double Hodge burger should be no problem.
I went all in and got the burger platter for $10.50. It comes with fries and your choice of a side salad, coleslaw, apple sauce or cottage cheese. You won't leave hungry. Bill “Hodge” Hodgkinson started the business in 1975. His daughter Allyson “Big Al” Hodgkinson runs the place now. She’ll be overseeing the complete remodel of the cafe that will include an expanded kitchen and outdoor patio.
“I always said when I grow up I’m going to own Hodge’s,” said Big Al as she assembled a double Hodge burger in the kitchen. That was burger No. 41, in less than three hours. That's a lot of flipping.
— Phil Masturzo
Address: 2781 W. Market St., Fairlawn
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Skyway keeps it simple.
And they have been keeping it simple for some 70 years.
Skyway has been serving its yummy hamburgers to generations of fans ever since it opened in 1952.
These burgers are pretty darn good.
And there's something about the sweet bun that makes a Skyway burger so special.
The signature Sky Hi Sandwich ($5.49) is a double-decker cheeseburger that comes with mustard, onions, pickles and Sky-Hi sauce.
Don't forget to add some onion rings ($3.99) to your order that is made fresh and delivered by a runner to your car.
They use the same recipe that Aunt Ruth Schaaf concocted back in the day.
These crispy, lightly breaded onion rings are as close to perfection as you will ever experience.
— Craig Webb
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: National Cheeseburger Day: Akron area’s favorite burgers