When it comes to American cuisine, burgers are a cornerstone of our culinary landscape. From the iconic San Antonio Bean Burger to the classic Onion Burger from Oklahoma, each regional specialty offers a unique twist on this beloved fast-food classic. In this article, we’ll explore some of these regional delights, delving into their origins and what makes them so special.
1. San Antonio Bean Burger: A Texan Classic
The San Antonio Bean Burger is an iconic Texan dish, known for its distinctive blend of flavors. Originally, this burger featured a beef patty as its base, but today, it has evolved to offer diverse variations. Frank Sills, the owner of the original Sills Snack Shack, is often credited with its creation. This burger is a Texan legend, topped with diced onions, crushed Fritos corn chips, refried beans, and Cheez Whiz, a processed cheese sauce. While its exact origin is shrouded in mystery, it has become a staple in the San Antonio culinary scene.
Evolution of the Bean Burger
Modern renditions of the San Antonio Bean Burger have expanded on the original concept. Today, you can find numerous restaurants in San Antonio serving different versions of this iconic dish. Some variations include crushed tostada chips, melted cheddar cheese, or pico de gallo, adding exciting layers of flavor and texture to this Texan classic.
2. Theta Burger: A Taste of Oklahoma
Theta Burger, a culinary delight hailing from Oklahoma, is an exceptional creation. A bread bun cradles a meat patty, which is then topped with hickory sauce, mayonnaise, slices of dill pickles, and shredded cheddar cheese. The origins of this burger can be traced back to the Split-T restaurant in Oklahoma City, although some claim it was invented by Ralph Geist, the owner of Town Tavern in Norman, Oklahoma, in the 1930s or 1940s.
3. Slaw Burger: Southern Comfort on a Bun
The Slaw Burger is a traditional American favorite, particularly popular in the southern parts of the United States. It takes the classic burger and elevates it with a delicious twist: coleslaw. Typically, this burger comprises a meat patty topped with sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, and a generous serving of coleslaw dressing.
A Burger That Adapts to Your Tastes
One of the delightful aspects of the Slaw Burger is its adaptability. People make it according to their preferences, so it’s not uncommon to see variations that include dill pickles, bacon, and cheese. However, the one consistent element is the delectable coleslaw topping, which infuses the burger with a unique Southern charm.
4. Luther Burger: The Sweet and Savory Indulgence
The Luther Burger, often considered one of the world’s unhealthiest burgers, is a testament to the marriage of sweet and savory flavors. In this unique creation, the traditional burger bun is replaced by a sliced, sugar-glazed donut, usually a Krispy Kreme. This decadent twist is complemented by a cheeseburger, topped with crispy bacon, and is typically served without vegetables or condiments.
A Sweet Origin Story
Many believe that the Luther Burger was born at Mulligan’s Bar in Georgia when the cook ran out of standard hamburger buns and ingeniously used donuts as a substitute. While it may not be the healthiest choice, it certainly stands out for its irresistible combination of flavors.
5. Deep-Fried Burger: A Southern Fried Sensation
Originating from Dyer’s in Memphis, Tennessee, the Deep-Fried Burger is a true Southern delight. It features a combination of ground beef, beef tallow, hamburger buns, yellow mustard, sliced onions, dill pickles, and American cheese. The flattened patties are fried in beef tallow, ensuring a perfect sear, and are then topped with a slice of American cheese.
A Flavorful Southern Experience
The result is a burger that embodies the flavors of the South. Once the patty is cooked to perfection, it’s placed into a soft hamburger bun and garnished with yellow mustard, sliced onions, and dill pickles. When prepared correctly, the meat should be cooked to a turn, ensuring that it doesn’t become overly greasy.
6. Slugburger: Not What It Sounds Like
Don’t be fooled by the name; the Slugburger has nothing to do with slugs. This unique American burger variety hails from Corinth, Mississippi, and gets its name from an interesting historical quirk. During the Depression, ground meat was combined with fillers like potato flour or soybeans to make these burgers more affordable.
A Budget-Friendly Classic
The Slugburger was originally known as the Weeksburger, named after its inventor, John Weeks. Priced at just a nickel, the nickname “slug” stuck, given that nickels were referred to as “slugs” at the time. The meat patties are typically fried in canola oil and served with pickles, mustard, and onions on a small hamburger bun, making it a budget-friendly choice with a rich history.
7. Pimento Cheeseburger: Southern Elegance
The Pimento Cheeseburger is a classic Southern delight, particularly popular in South Carolina. It’s a simple yet elegant creation, featuring soft burger buns, grilled burger patties, and a generous serving of pimento cheese spread. The pimento spread is made by combining grated cheddar, mayonnaise, and pimento peppers.
Personalize Your Pimento Burger
Once assembled, the Pimento Cheeseburger can be enjoyed as is, but many people prefer to customize it with additional toppings like lettuce, fried onions, or tomatoes. These toppings are entirely optional and allow you to tailor this burger to your exact taste.
8. Onion Burger: An Oklahoma Original
The Oklahoma Onion Burger is a testament to resourcefulness. Invented during the 1920s, a time when onions were abundant and the meat was expensive, this burger features thin slices of onions smashed into a beef patty. The meat and onions cook together until the onions become caramelized and crispy and the meat is fully cooked.
A Unique Twist on the Classic Burger
Typically, the burger also includes a slice of American cheese, pickles, and either mustard or mayonnaise or even both. These ingredients are all encased within soft and fluffy burger buns, creating a one-of-a-kind flavor profile that has stood the test of time.
American burgers are not just a fast-food indulgence but a rich tapestry of regional flavors and stories. From the Texan charm of the San Antonio Bean Burger to the budget-friendly history of the Slugburger, each variety brings its own unique twist to this culinary classic. So, the next time you’re craving a burger, consider exploring the diverse and delicious world of regional American burgers.