Hungry for History and Hamburgers | Akron’s hamburger lore and the best places to chow down
by Allyson Smith
A legend was born in Akron, Ohio. And no, I’m not talking about Lebron James or Devo. I’m talking about America’s favorite delicacy: the hamburger.
They weren’t exactly invented in Akron, but the men who made them, Charles and Frank Menches, hail from our city.
As the legend goes — or so says the Menches Brothers Restaurant and Pub — the Menches brothers were serving sausage sandwiches at a fair in Hamburg, NY, around 1885. They ran out of sausage and the local butcher declined to sell them more because he said it was too hot to butcher more pigs. So he sold them ground beef instead.
Akron is not the only city that lays claim to the hamburger. Because so many others have, the 2006 Hamburger Festival in Akron hosted the Hamburger Hearings.
The Burger Commission’s verdict was that Charles Nagreen of Seymour, WI, was the inventor of the hamburger. However, the Menches brothers weren’t that far off. Both groups served hamburgers in 1885, according to the Hamburger Festival’s website.
With such a richness in hamburger history, one can only imagine that we have the best places to get one in our very own city.
Without further ado, here are some of the best places — besides Swensons and Menches Brothers– to get a burger in Akron.
Louie’s Bar and Grille: 739 East Glenwood Avenue, North Hill
I have small hands. I’m a young woman who stands a whopping 4’11, and I honestly could not handle this burger. Topped with tomatoes, onions, pickles, mustard, mayo, and lettuce, on a Kaiser roll, it’s no surprise that it started falling apart three bites in. But I enjoyed every second of getting covered in mustard and tomato seeds. Plus, any place that has vinegar for their fries and Thirsty Dog on draft is bound to be good.
Kevin O’ Bryan’s: 1761 South Main Street, Firestone Park
With music blaring, a full bar, and a great selection of burgers, Kevin O’ Bryan’s is a great way to spend a kind-of-relaxing Friday night out. If you’re looking for a great standard burger, then you’re in the right spot. But if you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, like the FPC burger with fried eggs and potato cakes, you won’t be let down.
Bob’s Hamburg: 1351 East Avenue, Sherbondy Hill
Bob’s Hamburg is something of a legend, and after trying a single burger with onion rings and their own root beer recipe, I understand why. This restaurant has been open since 1931 — yes, for nearly 90 years. Everything about the restaurant is the same as when it opened, down to the grill where the burgers are cooked, which sits in plain view for patrons to ooh and ah as their mouths water.
Allyson Smith is a senior at the University of Akron, studying media production. She aims to incorporate her passions of traveling and drinking coffee into a prolific and fulfilling career in the media industry.