Say Ron's in this town, and 99 out of 100 people will think of tasty homemade chili, sizzling burgers, hand-cut fries and fast efficient service.
I love to kid around with service people, to see what kind of reaction I get, and because I like to interact with people and have some fun. Also, I am always curious if there really is a Duffy, a Mario or a Ron.
So when I walked into Ron's Hamburgers at 15th and Sheridan and said, "So, where's Ron?" I wasn't prepared for the answer I got. "He's off today sir, but he'll be back tomorrow."
Whether or not it was true, here's a guy who stays focused on his business after 35 years and, frankly, it shows. He might not be coming in tomorrow, but it's scripted to sound that way. Good technique and attention to detail.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, the joint was jumpin'. We sat in a booth and within a minute had menus, silverware and soft drinks.
I ordered a cup of chili to start. It was hot, creamy and flavorful. Not overpowered with onions and garlic and not greasy, it had the perfect blend of ingredients along with meat.
I think he thickens his chili with a little bit of masa flour, a primary ingredient in tortillas, tamales and other Mexican fare. It adds a great corn finish to chili without the starchy feel and taste of regular flour. I like my chili spicy enough to "set me free," so I had to dump a bunch of hot sauce in it.
My wife, who the family affectionately calls, "macaroni mouth" was able to eat it and enjoy it, too, so it will work for anyone. You can get it about a jillion different ways: cups, bowls, a two-way (chili on a bed of spaghetti), a three-way (a two-way with beans), Frito pie, a polish three-way and on and on.
I couldn't decide between a pretty creative selection of menu items for a hamburger place. A sausage burger, (half ground beef, half Owen's sausage), patty melt, B.L.T., Turkey melt or this one, the "Buster." It's half beef, half Owens sausage, Cured 81 ham, American and pepper jack cheeses, bacon, fried onion, lettuce, tomato, and pickle. All available for under $7. Unless of course you want the double for $9.75! Yikes!
We also saw huge plates of Fried Boneless Chicken, Chef Salads, Spanish Chicken Melt, wraps, a variety of burger steak platters, Coneys. It never stops!
I finally decided the best way to try out one of Ron's burgers is not to smother it with stuff, so I ordered a plain cheeseburger with a little mustard and lettuce. It comes in two sizes, a three ounce or a five ounce burger.
My burger was hot and juicy and crusty on the outside. It was served on a griddle toasted bun. You know how the good burger places put the bun top on the burger to heat it and it gets that thin layer of hamburger juices and splatters from the grill? That's how they do it. It was great.
My wife chose a "Polish Dog" with fried onions. It was very tasty; although to her disappointment, they didn't toast her bun the same way they did mine. It was smothered in fried, (and I mean deep fried) onions. They were crisp on the edges and tender in the center; although a bit greasy. They could eliminate that by dumping them out on a paper towel or drip tray.
We shared a half order of fries and left about a third of them because it was just too much. I can't imagine a full order. I also ordered a side of slaw, and it was great. Tangy, crispy and just creamy enough, it was just right. A little on the burger set it off just right!
The décor is decidedly utilitarian. Exactly what you would expect from a busy chili and burger joint. A long counter runs the length of the main dining room with easy access for single diners. Formica tables with '50s style diner chairs fill the three dining rooms.
The service is fast and efficient, friendly without being conversational, (these girls were moving all the time), and we were in and out in less than 25 minutes. Ron's T-shirts fill a glass counter by the register, and everyone knows their job and how to "git 'er done."
The paper carry-out menu boasts awards from Tulsa People, (of course) Urban Tulsa Weekly and the International Chili Society. They've got an organization for everything.
It's a great place to stop in for lunch or dinner, or a mid afternoon "Double Buster." That is if you've got the rest of the day to take a nap.
Ron's Hamburgers and Chili
1545 S Sheridan Rd. (multiple locations around the city)
Hours: Monday-Friday 10:30am -- 8pm, Saturday 10:30am--3pm
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