A Very Rare Burger at Fat Guy's Burger Bar

By on April 23, 2010

That big flat kind of burger you used to see a lot of in Tulsa can be a work of art. I remember going to the 15th Street branch of Ron’s when Ron Baber himself was working and watch him cook my burger with the grace of a ballerina. The restaurant looked like a cowshed and it would be jammed with people waiting for a seat. Rich lawyers sitting next to construction workers on lunch break. Ron was a genius cook and he put each burger through about ten steps. Meat was pounded flat, seasoned with salt and spices, coated with lard using a paintbrush, cooked on a superhot grill (500 degrees), steamed under a dome. I like my burgers extra rare and this is much harder to do , so Ron took it as a challenge and he gave me the best burgers I have ever tasted. Now this style of burger is flat and very thin (about a third of an inch thick) and as big as an old 45 RPM record. The meat is succulent and juicy and melts in with the cheese. The best chef in New York could not make a better burger.Then Ron retired and while Ron’s is certainly thriving, the burgers (though quite good) just aren’t the same. I thought it was one of those Proustian taste memories that can never be recaptured. But just last night I found it again at Fat Guy’s Burger Bar.

Fat Guy’s Burger Bar is a spanking new place right next to ONEOK field, the new Drillers stadium. There are lots of big TV screens scattered around the place so if you go there during a Drillers game and decide that the food is better than the game (good choice!), you can still watch the game on TV. At first, things didn’t look good. I ordered my burger — the biggest they had ($7.35) — and asked for it extra rare. Oh, you can only get it well done, the waitress said. My face sagged like a little kid who’s just received proof that there is no Santa. She must have seen that because without a word she ran back and got the chef. He explained that the burgers, in true old Tulsa style, are so thin that they can’t be cooked rare. I told him that Ron Baber told me that they could be done rare, and that that was the toughest test of skill a hamburger chef could ever face. How could any chef resist that challenge? I’ll do my best, he said.

While waiting, I and my friends decided on condiments. That’s a challenge too, there are 15 of them, all included in the burger price, including such delicious oddities as jalapeno relish, grilled pineapple and Sriracha. The Tulsa World, in a big splashy review last week, recommended grilled mushrooms and that pineapple, and I went along, getting some mayo too. And then we had to choose dipping sauces for the fries (which, according to the World, are hand-cut, then blanched, then fried in peanut oil). Lots of choice there too, I settled for roast garlic aioli and malt vinegar aioli. (Aioli is basically a Spanish gourmet mayo.)

And then the waitress came, carrying our orders in big paper bags. (No plates here.) Mine came in a separate bag, carried proudly as if it were a treasure. And treasure it indeed was. Oh the glorious glistening meat, with perfect meaty flavor, a few subtle seasonings added. Lovely and rare, juicy, all a burger should be. Ron redux. Paradise regained.

And for me, that’s the story. I should add that the fries were glorious, and all my friends loved their burgers, thought them fantastic, devoured every crumb despite their protestations that they weren’t really hungry. And those burgers were cooked the regular way. (Not overcooked but what most people consider just right.) After that, I walked over to get a photo of Abears, where I’d eaten a few months before. They still remembered me.

Fat Guy’s Burger Bar
140 N. Greenwood Av Tulsa (there’s also an entrance from the stadium)
794-7782
11 AM to 8 PM, maybe open later for night Drillers games and they might decide to stay open to 10 PM every day; closed Sunday but might be open when there’s a game
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tulsa-OK/Fat-Guys-Burger-Bar/107269035966212
Burgers from $5 to $8.25, fries $4 large can feed four people, also serves chili and even (gasp!) veggie burgers

Brian Schwartz:

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society.  www.theomegasociety.com

I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.

“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

Fat Guy's Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Brian Schwartz

About Brian Schwartz

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola. “A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

0 Comments

  1. Russell

    April 23, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I’d eat that.

  2. Kristie Moon

    April 23, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Funny, I was just talking about this place with my friends and how we needed to try it soon. Glad to hear it’s living up to the expectation, grrreat review.

  3. Brian Schwartz

    April 23, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    I suppose I should add what I’m sure you know. Warning: eating an undercooked burger like that can be hazardous to your health. I feel there’s less of a risk at Fat Guy’s Burger Bar because they grind their own meat. And it’s soooo good!

  4. Rob

    April 23, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    That burger looks ripe!!!! Beautiful!

  5. Tulsa Food Guy

    April 24, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Interesting. I went there for the second time tonight before the Drillers/Cards game and both times all the burgers have been cooked medium/medium rare.

    FYI, Fat Guy’s hot dog is one of the best I’ve ever had. So if you’re not in the mood for a burger (and I wasn’t tonight for some odd reason… is the moon full?) they have a solid back-up plan. This place should thrive as long as this town has a double-A baseball team… and hopefully longer!

  6. Sasha

    April 24, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I rarely eat burgers (when I do I like them medium), but this review made me want one! In the picture – is that a sliver of cheese? I’d want a couple more slices lol.

    • Brian Schwartz

      April 24, 2010 at 3:34 pm

      I’m glad you like my review, Sasha. You will encounter hamburgers when you get to Bosnia, where they are called pljeskavica. (It’s lucky they’re not called that here, since no one would ever want one, or be able to order it if they did!)

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/dining/20balk.html

  7. ChefDodge

    April 26, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Thank you all for the kind words and thank you for the wonderful review. At Fat Guy’s, we know that are in the business of making people happy. Double A team or not, if we stay focused on keeping people happy, then we will stay successful. We are only 3 weeks old and I promise we are getting better each and every day.

  8. Mona

    April 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I’ll go anywhere that the cooking is graceful like a ballerina and Fat Guy’s it is. I can personally say the veggie burgers (gasp!) and fresh fresh milkshakes are delicious. ChefDodge is awesome and I have visited at least once a week since the opening.

    Next time try the parmesan peppercorn with your fries. I even took home a side :)

  9. Chris

    May 1, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Fries were awesome- my burger was a tad dry, but the others enjoyed theirs. I will still go back

  10. Refrigerator Gaskets

    May 4, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Gotta love the chef challenge. You gotta do what you gotta do! Never had an extra rare burger before, but I’ve done plenty of beef tartar, so I have to think it is good!

  11. Erica

    May 4, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I had the veggie burger and it was very good.

  12. robin

    May 23, 2010 at 1:58 am

    i went here when i was downtown at a LTC class and oh the burgers smelled so good i had to try em they are good and u can get em how u wont with what u wont and may i add i was not thinking it wasd going to be 2meat patties for 7 bucks its good no great i am digging thid burger joint and its family friendly

  13. Kate M.

    May 26, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    My husband and I went here last week after a game. SOOOO good. I’d love for Anthony Bourdain to try the Peanut Butter Burger!!

  14. Zstyles

    June 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I went here last night based on this review. The food was cooked fresh it appeared and the location was clean, menue easy to read great. The girl taking my order was nice and it looked like the cooks were bored they were not doing much at the time as it was sorta slow. I orderd a Double/Bacon Cheese, lettuce, grilled onions, pickes and mayo with Regular Fries, spicy and a BlueCheese Burger(not sure what it was called) lettuce, pickles and fries.

    This was a take out so I got home, bit into it and for some reason my burger just had this funky taste to it, I have never been able to understand even today what it was but it was just like, dirty socks! I asked my wife how her burger was and she said it tasted fine to her the fries were good but this burger it was just…FUNKY! I ate the whole thing as this was my meal of the day but it wasn’t enjoyable or a good first experience. Not sure what it was the lettuce, grilled onions, cheese, bacon? Hope someone can help! If I would have eaten it there I would have asked for another burger or something different.

  15. brad a.

    July 6, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    My family just returned from Fat Guy’s and while the ambiance + the homeade Cajun fries were stellar, the burger was, well, meh.

    My biggest complaint was the amount of pepper on the burger. Totally killed the taste of the meat…

    If you want a good burger, my vote is for Ty’s on Harvard…

  16. John Noble

    March 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I have the Ron’s franchise at 49th and Peoria. I learned my trade as Ron Baber’s right hand man at the original Ron’s on 15th before he retired. I strive to do everything EXACTLY the same way Ron taught me. He wouldn’t say we were making a burger, he would say we were “building” a burger. Give me a chance to please your taste buds, and I feel confident that you will enjoy your experience at my store.

    • Nate Hood

      May 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm

      I have really enjoyed reading this string. I am much reminded of “The Tulsa Sound”…could this be “The Tulsa Taste” for burgers? I hope we all (you all) can stick together. I really don’t feel like we’re competing against each other, as much as we’re all trying to preserve something to benefits everyone. My hat’s off to Mr. Baber for being so influential in creating it, and the likes of Mr. Noble and the fellows at Fat Guy’s for keeping it going. Also, even though they may be different musical (culinary) genres, my hat’s also off to [old style] Goldies and Brownies, as well as any of you Tulsa tradition burger folks I might have missed! Please feel free to educate me, BTW! Cheers (and pass the fries)
      :)

  17. TaraTot

    March 28, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    My husband and I tried Fat Guy’s yesterday before a hockey game… Lordy. Mercy. Best burger I’ve had in a long time.

    I was being adventerous and wanted to try the peanut butter and bacon burger but the server tempted me to try it “Thai-style”. I caved, even though I’m not a huge meat and fruit person. My hubby got the bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions. We also shared some spicy fries with roasted garlic aioli.

    The burgers were cooked about as perfect as you can get with a thin patty, crisp with a nice pink middle. My burger had two patties, bacon, peanut butter, a thin slice of grilled pineapple, grilled jalepenos, cilanto, and some Siracha, I think. It was incredibly hot, so hot that I had to pull the jalepenos off if I wanted to sit at BOK comfortably. Once I pulled the peppers off it was still spicy and delicious, definitely not for the weary. I loved every minute of it! The peanut butter dripped off and I scooped it up with my fries and then the garlic aoili. My husband’s burger was amazing, I was lucky enough to nab a bite before he inhaled it. Next time I’ll skip the inferno so I can taste the freshly ground meat and exciting toppings.

    We have company coming to town this week, we can’t wait to take them to Fat Guy’s! Keep up the good work.

  18. Pingback: Peanut Butter and Burgers, oh yes! | Tulsa Food Talk

  19. Paul wallg

    June 8, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Thats a very tasty and delicioso BURGER my friend!!!!!!!

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