“America’s Best Cheeseburger.”
We didn’t say it. But Forbes did. Back in 1999, the magazine anointed the Swensons patty the nation’s tastiest. The humble drive-in opened its original Akron, Ohio, location in 1934. The dream of Wesley T. ‘Pop’ Swenson, the restaurant has pulled in hoards of locals and a smattering of national (and even international fans)—it is damn hard to deny the allure of the trademark bun. Among the most notable local proponents is Maybach Music, and Ohio’s own Stalley
“I first came here when I was 9 years old after a midget football game,” says Stalley, who was born and raised in nearby Massillon, Ohio. “It immediately leap frogged McDonald’s for me. It is one of the best burgers in the world, and my favorite burger in the world.”
Swensons’ plain burger is an exercise in simplicity. One, two, or even three patties housed in a masterfully toasted bun, with classic, white American cheese and grilled onions. The bun is a triumph. Buttery and crisp, adding a tremendous texture amplifying the humble burger with an unexpected sweet finish. Want a side to go with the burger? Don’t miss the Potato Teezers, a bizarre but welcome combination of the tatter tot and the jalapeno popper.
When it comes to milkshakes, the rapper gets adventurous. “They have about 15,000 different milkshakes,” he enthuses, “The pumpkin one is a seasonal. I haven’t’ had it, but everyone says is very good.”
Swenson’s is more than good burgers and endless varieties of milkshake. It is also a throw back to classic good service and value for money.
“I love the service,” notes Stalley. “There is a unique way of ordering. You turn on your lights when you want to order, and then turn them on again when you want them to come take your tray.”
I try and take my own trash from car to can. A young employee stops me with a smile, immediately offering help. We’ve enjoyed burgers, milkshakes, and some of the finest tater tots in the land. Is it America’s best? Probably not. However, Swensons is undoubtedly the pride of Northeast Ohio.