Nic's Grill: The Best Burger You May Never Get
Nic’s Grill serves the best burgers in Oklahoma City. Make that the state, with apologies to Meers, perhaps the world. Seriously. Of course I haven’t lived long enough or traveled far enough to make that statement with much authority, but in 42 years I’ve never eaten a better burger than Justin Nicholas is churning out from this tiny diner in the Ten-Penn district.
Before you applaud me for not burying the lead, consider this: You may never get a chance to eat a burger from Nic’s Grill, especially if you suffer from what my dear-old middle school history teacher Mr. Ferguson used to call, clausty. Nic’s is a tiny space with little seating and no real place for a line to form other than outside. The owner himself warns against taking his burgers on the road. He also says the pork chops are so good, you might be better off having those. All that aside, the burger at Nic’s, in my book, is as good as it gets. I hope you get to try one some day. Unless claustrophobia is a real concern, you will enjoy it.
When TV host and chef Guy Fieri was in town to film a segment at Nic’s for “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives,” he enjoyed with all the places he visited, but it was clear that Nic’s had made a lasting impression.
“That’s a serious burger,” Fieri said in an interview last summer. “Seriously big time burger, have you been!?!”
The answer is yes, a thousand times yes. This isn’t burgerdom 2.0. This isn’t the ol’ time diner/drive-in experience of Sooner Dairy Lunch, Dan’s Ol’ Tyme Diner, Little Mike’s or Big Ed’s. This is a guy treating an enormous hunk of ground beef like a rib-eye and making sure the accoutrements don’t get in the way. I’ve said before you can make a good burger without great meat. But you can’t make a great burger without it. Owner Justin Nicholas gets that and that’s where all the love he cooks with is directed. He starts the meat when you walk in the door because his technique is different. This isn’t a think patty cooked a minute or two on each side. No, Nicholas puts a crust on both side of the beef then lines them up on his griddle where they finish slower than any burger joint you’ll ever visit. The result, like a perfectly cooked steak, is a bite that begins with that spicy crust but quickly melts like a pat of butter on honeymoon with a newborn biscuit. Then comes the cheese onions, condiments and sliced jalapenos — griddled not pickled, a huge plus. I’ve never been a dry-burger guy, but this is one place you could certainly be satisfied with meat and bread only. You know, it’s practically chopped steak as it stands, so those of you going no-carbs, knock yourselves out. You’re not going to find an army of add-on choices, a fancy bun and house-made pickles. You will find yourself skipping dinner and counting the days til you can return.
Nic’s fries are understably greasy considering they’re served beneath the burger. The monstrous patty can’t contain the natural, savory juices that any thoughts of eating it with your hands last no more than 2 minutes.
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