I wouldn’t be a true Akronite (or Cantonian) if I didn’t take a moment to sing the praises of Swenson’s. If you grew up in Akron, have lived in Akron, or even visited a time or two, you know about Swenson’s. It’s legendary, almost as much for the nostalgia as for the burgers and shakes. Swenson’s has been around since the 1930’s, and in many ways it still feels like an “old school” drive-in, especially the West Market location in Akron (the original store). Growing up I have the fondest memories of many fine high school boys running up to the car to take our order, literally seconds after we pulled in. Luckily my dad is Swenson’s lover from way back (he’s been in Akron longer than Swenson’s), so he’s been taking me there for as long as I can remember. By the way, the boys still run to your car, but there are some girls now too (sigh).
So onto the food. First of all, it’s not hype, these really are the best (fast food/takeout) burgers. (In-and-Out, take note. You are forever second to Swenson’s, although I do love you, animal style.) I personally order a regular cheeseburger because I always must have a shake and a side too, but most people go for the famous Galley Boy. The Galley Boy has two beef patties, cheese, and two “special sauces.” My belief is that there are two main ways that these burgers pull apart from the competition. First: the meat. It has been a love-standing unconfirmed rumor that they put sugar in their beef patties. Is it true? I would tend to say yes – they are a bit sweet and taste unlike any other burger I’ve ever had. (Side note, my boyfriend bastes honey on his burgers as they’re finishing up on the grill, and that little bit of sweetness is killer.) The second way that these burgers shine rests in the bun. I do not know what they do to these wonderful buns, but they are flaky and crusty, but also soft, buttery, and perfect at holding all the flavors together and letting the ingredients “marinate”.
Apart from the burgers, the next big draw is in the milkshakes. Hands down, best milkshakes around. And they have just about any flavor you can imagine, including my two weaknesses: Chocolate peanut butter and banana. I thought about asking them if they could marry the two, still haven’t done that – it might just be too much to handle. My mom loves the malts because virtually nobody serves malts anymore. Too good, too good I tell you.
On the side they have an awesome assortment of fried deliciousness as well. In the picture above you see potato teezers, which are basically breaded and fried hash browns with cheese and jalapeno inside. YUM! Other favorites: fried zucchini, potato puffs, and onion rings. C’est magnifique! You’d be crazy not to check the website for one of the eight locations if you’re in the Cleveland-Akron-Canton area.
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