Birth of a Food Tradition; Oklahoma’s Famous Fried Onion Burger

The famous fried onion burger in El Reno, Oklahoma started in the early 1900’s. During the depression, meat prices were high, as a way to beef up their patties a local place called the Hamburger Inn in El Reno started adding a handful of thinly-sliced white onions to a smaller meat patty as it cooked on the griddle. Before turning the patty, the onions would get pressed into the meat with a spatula. The addition of the onions added a ton of flavor, and poof, just like that an El Reno food tradition was born.

Before long, a handful of these places opened in El Reno, all serving the fried onion burger. Sid’s is one of the oldest places in El Reno to still make the famous burger, and they pack in customers daily.

I went to Sid’s to work on a story about hamburgers for Saveur Magazine.

Here’s my visual essay on Sid’s and the legendary fried onion burger.

Note: as an appetizer, a coney relish is added to many orders. it comes with Sid’s house-made mustard relish and is totally worth the splurge.

13 Comments

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13 Responses to Birth of a Food Tradition; Oklahoma’s Famous Fried Onion Burger

  1. carmelo oreste francesco giargiari

    if i were starving i would not eat this

  2. I love that diner – small, compact and delicious. I can almost smell the greasy goodness! Great shots as always, Penny.

  3. Cool shots, Penny. I love that Saveur considers this sort of ultra-regional American food tradition to be worth documenting. Is that little bit of vignetting in-camera or post? I’m guessing the former, seems like you minimize the photoshop work.

  4. onions just make life better. plain and simple.

  5. Necessity is the mother of invention… great burger idea and less meat is better, isn’t it?

  6. One of lifes simple pleasures. It was the first picture that sold me into reading the article :D

  7. Love the shot of the chilie cheese dogs. The orange yellow topping really pops.

  8. I love your photos! Oh, and I would love to have a burger. Worth the trip.

  9. Holy crap. The first photograph really sends me. I will definitely be coming back.

  10. Tinamint

    I totally want one of these burgers now. Mmmm. I bet I can find the perfect wine to pair with it! ;-)

  11. Nicely illustrated. The photos look so gritty and if this was done intentionally, you are brillant! Fun post!

  12. 20 years ago I worked as a staffer for a Congressman from Oklahoma. I remember little except the intense heat, getting bitten endlessly by chiggers and eating far too many of those incredible burgers. I almost cringe thinking about it now, but your pictures capture even the smells. Incredible work.