Regional food specialties
- The Sweet Hamburgs of Northeast Ohio
I've had Swensons on my radar since at least 2010, when a thread on LTH first appeared. So I was excited to finally get a chance to try them and also Sky-Way and Bob's Hamburg, the last one being another spot long on my to-try list. After a little bit of browsing around I soon found a third drive-in giving Akron as many as Kenosha. So the question then became is Akron's burger game on the same level as it's most famous residents basketball game? Seeing as how I had Grub Seeker on my side it was possible to try all four spots out. I gotta keep my burger credentials at a presidential level.
The reason we'd be in Akron was the fact we were headed to Pittsburgh. I knew when we decided to take the trip that these stops would be made but there were plenty of others to stop into as well. So we did the homework and found Bob's to close early Sunday at a time we probably wouldn't make it. Thus it was the very first stop of an eventual thirty.
Our view at the counter
Bob's is the elder statesman of burger shops in Akron having been around since 1931. They're the only one on here that's not a full service drive-in. More like a diner, and dive. Surprisingly the bleached blonde spiky hair was nowhere to be found on the walls inside. It's got everything going for it as far as a classic All American Hamburger stop. They do a classic Midwest style smashed burger on a very old school 4x2 grill with a broiler on bottom used to toast the buns. The balls of beef are the biggest I've come across from a spot as old as Bob's but I don't know if it's always been that way. While prices have changed they're still damn cheap coming in at $4.40 for a single and less than a dollar more for a double. All the way is mustard, pickle, onion, lettuce and Bob's Special Sauce. I had to go with that and came to learn the special sauce was very similar to chili sauce with a hint of cumin. The onions were of the McDonald's variety and thus you couldn't help but think of Mickey D's when eating this burger. Though the rest of it, specifically the beef, made this one so much better. Probably my favorite in Akron. I do love those onions.
Ah yes, finally. Swenson's has a few locations but the original is the one to go too. Sunday evening so it was packed with cars and runners, literally, the Curb boys sprint to and from each car. Seriously hopeful none of them startle the wrong guy in that crazy state. The star of the show here is the Galley Boy. The cheeseburger I long wanted to try. I love unique eats and while some of them don't add up I thought the Galley Boy was a whiz kid. The top sauce was a mayo based concoction similar to the ones in the spots coming up while the bottom sauce was a sweet tangy BBQ variety supposedly made with brown sugar. When it was all put together I thought it worked wonderful. As this was our last stop before heading home I immediately regretted not ordering another for the road. I also realize I forgot to get a bologna sandwich. Hopefully there's a next time. I liked Swensons.
The Galley Boy Hamburg________________________________________________________________________________
Next up was another locals favorite, this one around since 1952. We went to what I believe was the original but then we passed this one seen above with neon and I was able to snap a perfect pic at the red light. This place too is curbside service only and though it wasn't as packed as Swensons there were some people there. The site brags about the beef being fresh and the burgers being cooked to order. You want a medal for that? Their famous "sandwich" is the SkyHi which is a double decker hamburger with special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onion.
Sounds familiar but Jim called it a generic Big Mac without the signature McD's onions. No sesame seeded bun either, instead it was toasted plain. I liked it more than that but not as much as Jim's Hamburger Heaven in Elmhurst which I think makes the best Double Decker burger. The special sauce from here was more like a garlic infused mayo and I pretty much agree with Peter's assessment in that it's a perfectly good fast food burger but in a town taking them so serious it's not the best. I forgot to order the onion rings and those looked really good.
If what I read online was correct than Dilly's is the baby of the Akron burger boys. It only got its start in 1986. There's not nearly as much online about this spot but the Akronite's that like it swear by their signature dilly sauce. It too is a curbside only drive-in and home to the Dilly Burger.
Double Dilly Burger
This was another damn good burger but I couldn't detect the tangy BBQ/Sugar sauce that was in a Swensons offering. From what I read there was many comparing the two so I don't know if thats supposed to be the case or not but it was a good burger. Someone described the sauce as tartar sauce though I didn't think it tasted much like that. There was some relish and green olive taste to it and I liked it with the cheddar but didn't detect another sauce. They also have a pepper burger served with fried banana peppers on top. Again...I forgot to order that. Haha.
Dilly's probably has the best view of all of the Akron Drive-in's. You can see the Goodyear Airdock, the Rubber Bowl, the Derby Downs, and watch planes land at Akron Airport while in your car enjoying a Dilly Burger.
The now vacated Rubber Bowl...See ya next time________________________________________________________________________________
1351 East Ave
Akron, OH 44307
Swensons Drive In
40 S Hawkins Av
Akron, OH 44312
951 E Turkeyfoot Lake Rd
Akron, OH 44312
1921 Triplett Blvd
Akron, OH 44312