The Subtle Art of Being (One of) the Best Burgers in OKC

Many eateries in Oklahoma City pretentiously claim they have the “best” burgers in town but, if you ask me, that really seems like an inordinate amount of pressure to put on yourself, right?

Driving down South Shields, however, I noticed a medium banner out front of (what I think is) Jim’s Convenience Store, 7917 S. Shields, that calmly lets semi-hungry drivers know they have—in small block letters—”one of” the best burgers in town.

The very definition of “ramshackle”, this convenience store, truth be told, seemed more like a shop that the owners abandoned a few years ago in the middle of the night, one that I was urban exploring illegally; the handmade signage gathered yellowing dust in the ensuing years, the shelves were definitely in need of a stocking and the floors obviously received only the most minimal of care.

A three-dimensional mural on the wall, now covered by cigarette ads and other paraphernalia, made me feel that this may have been a restaurant—possibly Chinese—in a former life. A shopping cart, empty boxes and other bits of large trash were strewn around the store, as a similar cadre of clients in need of convenience occasionally shuffling in and out, feeding their daily vices.

But my vice? Today, it’s one of these possibly-best burgers.

A middle-aged Asian man sat with the door cocked half-way open in the next room, possibly also keeping a watch on the next-door liquor store; he was watching television, possibly a sporting event of some sort. I managed to get his attention and asked if the burger stand was open, a large closed sign hanging on the plexiglass. Sighing heavily, he said it was and if I wanted a burger, it would be a few minutes.

Taking a depressingly grey patty out of a freezer, it looked like it came from one of those orange boxes of meat that you and your punk friends used to grill in the summertime, a box of 24 costing you only five or six bucks at Wal-Mart, a seemingly cost-effective deal even back then.

Thankfully, this burger (and a side of fries) was only losing me around five bucks as well, a small price to pay, I thought, for what just might be one of the best burgers in OKC.

Bargain-basement meat or not, the smell of that sizzling beef on the darkened grill, once it was firing on whatever cylinders it had left to fire on, was like a cut-rate Scentsy warmer, delivering a strong whiff of charred meat and cheap flesh all around me. With a quiet motion, the fries were added into a nearby fryer’s scalding oil, from a bag that was presumably just as generic as the burgers.

Walking around the fallen convenience store, there was failed signage from business attempts past leaning up against the walls; a boombox with a couple of cha-cha-themed compact discs lying next to it, possibly played recently. What type of Latin dance party goes on here when the doors are securely locked and, more importantly, how can I be invited?

Before I could ask those burnt questions, the middle-aged owner brought me a Styrofoam container, filled with my burger—one of the best in Oklahoma City, I still quietly hoped—and an appropriate number of crinkle-cut fries, as well as packets of various condiments, mostly of the no-name variety.

The sweaty American cheese partially melted down the still-steaming meat patty, a light brown pallor cast over its skin as a bit of sliced tomato and iceberg lettuce hiding underneath crept out. Served on a surprisingly toasted sesame-seen bun, as I effectively bit into the burger, it was laudably delicious, reminding me of those poverty-stricken days of my youth that were filled with the absolute cheapest of meats and most expensive of memories.

And while this burger is definitely not the best in town, I have to admit: it does a damn good job of being one of the best in town, true to the homemade advertising. Much like their fried rice or gyros—apparently also on the menu—they won’t win any awards, accolades or even a slight acknowledgement anytime soon, but, usually, the best things in life never really do.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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17 Responses

  1. Damn you can write. It is a treat to click on TLO and read your latest. Your descriptors and imagery make the reader feel we’ve been there, even if we never have. What a talent. Please continue to take care of yourself!

    1. I couldn’t have said it better – or as well.

  2. Did you know that having the munchies will cause temporary enhanced taste buds? Just saying…

  3. Where’s Mike out west to tell us that liberals taste buds are wrong and this burger is the opposite of what Donald Trump would like so it’s crap?

    1. Really? That’s weak sauce
      Do better

    2. Here I am, here I am – thanks for the invite.

      Hate to disappoint, but I will say I think Trump will eat about anything much as Bill Clinton did at McDonald’s in Little Rock following a jog related romp with Jennifer Flowers back in the day! Those guys had/have to keep their energy levels going. Have a great weekend…..all of you.

      1. Big Bill was a fast food glutton while in office . Out of office, surprisingly he went mostly vegan and really slimmed down.

        More on Bill’s diet and health here.

        1. While we’re playing the “what about …” game…

          What about President Taft, who was so morbidly obese that a tale circulated that the White House bathtub had to be replaced with a bigger one?

          Why is this relevant in this thread? It’s as relevant as Bill Clinton’s diet.

          1. Hey, what about you “thinking” you’re relevant? I enjoyed reading about Bill’s diet I especially liked his response to the question “How many calories are in a kiss?”

            His snappy response “none….but a kiss can be a great bone hardener”. That Bill….he had a lot of great one-liners!

  4. Try Ron’s on North May. It is worth it.

  5. Believe it or not the burger at La Baguette is, IMO, one of the best burgers in town. The nearby Cousins bar also has a contender, again IMO.

  6. Hope some of you OU fans tried the “Fat Ho Hamburger” joint out last weekend while you were in Waco. Maybe the next time Louis gets out of state he can review this joint. The name of the place has been somewhat controversial, as you might expect.

  7. That sign used to say “One of the best gyros in town.”

  8. Great article, very articulate and entertaining. But if one of the objectives was to bump my business their way, I’ll pass. Seeking out a suspect place with all the descriptors of a dive, for the sake of a burger that’s only one of many good burgers in the metro, defies common sense. I’ll stay in my more familiar lanes where good burgers can be found without the implied “high” of an exciting location.

  9. Do an article on Dhaba. It’s an Indian restaurant inside an old truck stop on 122nd and I-35. Some of the best Indian food you’ll eat in OKC. Please try the butter chicken.

  10. Those fries look delicious to me, I’m so hungry right now.

    Little topic spin, did y’all know it is NoT against the law in this Sooner State to eat dog or cat? 🐶🐱
    It’s actually legal in 42, maybe 43 other states as well.
    Wonder if people REALLY do eat dog &/or cat.

  11. I used to work in this building when it was Patio Garden Ponds on one side and Skulls Unlimited on the other side…Very Interesting that they are cooking burgers in the area that was the bug room.

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