Swadley’s Bar-B-Q 2233 W. Memorial Rd. Oklahoma City, OK (405) 413-7333 Swadley’s has expanded recently, and now the locations include Mustang, El Reno, and this one in front of Quail Springs Mall in far north Oklahoma City. I have been … Continue reading
Oklahoma City, OK
Johnnie’s has become an Oklahoma City institution, bringing the quality of hamburgers to a level found at very few places. The Split-T and The Patio were the first restaurants I can remember that served charcoal broiled hamburgers with hickory sauce. Johnnie’s came along soon afterward, and carries on the tradition today with nine locations in the OKC and Tulsa areas.
The hamburgers at Johnnie’s are cooked over charcoal, giving them a distinct flavor. I do not know why this cooking method has not caught on in many places outside Oklahoma, but it is one of the things I really appreciate about Johnnie’s and some of the other hamburger places in the area.
Even though Oklahoma is known for charcoal broiled hamburgers, I have not found any other restaurant that does it as well as Johnnie’s (except for places such as Split-T that were my favorites while growing up). My travels around the country have so far demonstrated that Johnnie’s is not only very good, but also unique in offering the type and quality of burger that is served here. Many places in Oklahoma City come close, but I still think Johnnie’s is the best.
Since I started publishing my own personal ratings of restaurants, there has been a dilemma about how to rate my favorite hamburger, pizza, barbecue, taco, and other casual and downscale restaurants that certainly do not qualify as “fine dining,” but have their own place in my personal “food chain.” Johnnie’s is not one of the city’s most elegant restaurants, but it is one of the ones I would most miss if it were gone.
Johnnie’s offers salads, sandwiches, and deli favorites (such as turkey and cranberry) but to me the hamburgers and fries are the reason to go. Although several toppings are available for the burgers, Johnnie’s Sauce is the one I have always enjoyed. Cooked each day on the stove for about five hours, this hickory sauce is made with a secret blend of ingredients, and can be purchased for take-home. I would say this sauce is a must try, and it can be ordered on the side for those who wish to try it. I usually prefer mustard to tomato based sauces, but Johnnie’s Sauce is of such superior quality it can only be compared to a high quality barbecue sauce.
The meat patties are made with chuck, and are higher quality than the average hamburger. The sauce, the charcoal broiling, and the meat all seem to be key ingredients in making this such a good burger.
I have also enjoyed the buns with sesame seeds on top as much as any other part of the burger.
Many times I get as much enjoyment out of a veggie burger as the meat patty, mainly because I order them with Johnnie’s Sauce (but customers can also get mustard or mayonnaise if they wish). I am sure there are better quality veggie burgers than the ones here, but out of the ones I have tried in the Southwest, I like the ones served at Johnnie’s the best. Honestly, though, I would like just about anything that had Johnnie’s Sauce on it.
Other Menu Items
Johnnie’s offers some other choices if you are not in the mood for a burger. One popular item is the Frankfurter with chili and cheese, similar to the coney hot dogs served at many of the local hamburger restaurants. The frankfurter seemed to be better quality than most, with more meat and less “filler” than many hot dogs, as well as a good flavor. The chili, though, was disappointing compared to the “other” Johnnie’s in El Reno (which I think is the best). This is Texas style chili (not New Mexico chile that is much spicier and either red or green colored).
Johnnie’s menu includes several sandwiches, salads, and other items, and I have tried several of them at the Northwest Expressway location. The one I liked best was the grilled chicken breast sandwich.
The french fries are almost addictive with just the right amount of grease. The large order is probably appropriate only for a family with hungry kids (if you can eat an order by yourself, I would seriously worry about you!).
Baked beans are a healthier side dish, and just about as good as the fries. Because of tradition, though, I usually order the fries.
The Iced Tea is very good, partly because the crystal clear ice is much better than the ice I can make at home from tap water.
When I really need a Milk Shake (such as after a visit to the dentist or other traumatic experiences) I head to Johnnie’s. As strange as it may sound, the milk shake even goes well with a hamburger (I tried it myself just to make sure I could make this statement). I think the one here is better than at Braum’s, but others are welcome to make their own taste test.
My favorite dessert is the Blackberry Cobbler, but I must make the disclosure that I have only tried it at the Northwest Expressway location.
Summing It Up
The hamburgers are not very expensive for the quality you get, but if you order any side dishes Johnnie’s becomes just about as expensive as going to a typical restaurant. In my opinion, though, it is certainly an experience that is worth it.
I think Johnnie’s is something that everyone should experience if at all possible while in the OKC area. The Number 5 hamburger with Johnnie’s sauce is probably the restaurant’s most popular item, but either a burger with some other sauce or any other item with Johnnie’s sauce would still be worth trying (especially the veggie burger).
In addition I should add that this (the Britton Road) location has usually given the most satisfying experience to me because of the consistency of the food and the fact that the dining room seems more comfortable than at the other locations. The other locations are usually very good, but this is the restaurant where I can really count on everything being just as I expect them to be. Update 2020: Johnnie’s Express is also a location that I find to have especially satisfying hamburgers.
Hours: Open Daily
Smoking: No smoking
Most Recent Visit: Apr. 11, 2020
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Hamburger, Veggie Burger, French Fries, Milk Shake, Tea
|Frankfurter with Chili and Cheese|
Menu (May 2017):