Sunday, October 1, 2023

Oklahoma’s fried onion burger now served in Wilmington

Single-patty Oklahoma fried onion burger is $8 Oklahoma’s Original Burger. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

WILMINGTON — “Pam, Pam, Pam!” 

“Hunter, Hunter, Hunter!”

“Courtney, Courtney, Courtney!”

It was the chant of the friendly cooks calling to customers to grab their orders, against the cacophony of sizzling 3-ounce balls of meat crisping under the sweet caramelization of paper-thin onion slivers. Each was smashed into a patty, onions searing into the burger, and then smothered with American cheese and slid into a potato bun. 

Underway for months now at Pointe at Barclay, Oklahoma’s Original Burgers officially opened Friday. With only word-of-mouth spreading its gospel for three days, a late lunch crowd packed its dining room Monday afternoon, each table housed with a hook-and-ring toss game. Few attempted to master it, as piles of fries in house BBQ seasoning were being dunked into ketchup following each bite of the handheld.  

The fried onion burger is the star at OOB — the first of its kind in Wilmington. The restaurant opened in the place of the former Crave Hot Dogs and BBQ and is a venture from Dave and Lauren Gerin, Ace and Jamie Alfalla, and Donohue and Rachael Whyte. 

The restaurant, with white subway tiles, dark wood and black accents, is punctuated by bright orange, yellow and red murals, overlooking two- and four-tops as well as bar seating front and center of the open kitchen. Eight picnic tables and corn hole welcome additional diners outdoors.

“The goal and the vision and vibe we had for it was for it to feel as if there’s always been an Oklahoma’s Burger there,” co-owner Dave Gerin told Port City Daily in May.

The Gerins and Alfallas also opened Preston Restaurant at the Greystone Inn earlier this summer, though it endured a fire and is undergoing renovations currently.

The restaurant is simple and offers three items: burgers, fries and shakes, with the average ticket of a single-patty, small fries and small drink costing $17. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

Opening two restaurants is no easy feat, but the former New Yorkers landed on the fast-casual concept after tasting an Oklahoma burger up North. They would often dine out in the city in search of the perfect bite of handheld. 

“The Oklahoma fried onion burger was always our favorite,” Gerin said earlier this year.

Born from the Great Depression along Route 66 in western Oklahoma, the burger is famed for its packed flavor, achieved from onions added to the patty to bulk up the meat. Onions were priced inexpensively 100 years ago, while meat prices soared. This allowed diners a taste of the delicacy without breaking the bank.

The modern restaurant’s menu is simple with three items: burgers, fries and shakes, with the average ticket of a single-patty burger, small fries and small drink costing $17.

Oklahoma’s Original Burger sells single 3-ounce patties ($8) — or doubles ($12) and triples ($14). Traditionally, it comes with strings of caramelized onions that seep into the meat, creating crispy, sweet bits. Toppings are also offered — lettuce, tomato, bacon, bread-and-butter pickles — as well as sauces, such as garlic or chipotle aioli.

Gerin told PCD in the spring the traditional, plain way to eat it is best.

“Once you try it, it’ll change your life,” he said.

Fries ($5 to $13) also appear on the menu — doused in BBQ seasoning or salted. Loaded flavors come drizzled with ranch and BBQ sauce and topped with bacon and scallions (OKC style), or covered in cheese sauce, bacon and scallions (Tulsa style). 

Milkshakes are created from a Swirl Freeze machine for customizable flavors. Chocolate, vanilla or strawberry soft-serve is blended with toppings that include cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Fruity Pebbles, and cookies such as Oreos. They’re priced $10 to $16.

Beer is soon to come, according to signs posted.

Oklahoma’s Original Burgers is located at 1407 Barclay Pointe Blvd., Unit 401, open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Oklahoma’s Original Burgers is now open in the Pointe at Barclay. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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