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Trick Shot: The Fairly Unknown Onion Burgers of Chester’s Pool Hall

8:48 AM EST on January 13, 2022

I grew up three or so blocks from the fabled Chester’s Pool Hall, 2733 NW 50th. Even back then, they were secretly famous for their onion burgers, conceived at a time when secrets like that were kept rightly under wraps by neighborhoods that didn’t want to share them with anyone.

I, however, never went there as a kid, mostly due to the pool-hall police stories that my parents filled my developing head with to great effect. However, the one time that I did manage to sneak over there, as I sat in the back noshing on my quite tasty burger, I was made fun of by a couple of upperclassmen from high school, which carried over for much of my sentence at Northwest Classen.

But, you know what? I’m currently fucking 43 years old and if I want to eat a fucking burger at Chester’s, then by God I’m going to eat a fucking burger at Chester’s.

At least that’s the mature rationale that I told my lifelong gal-pal Jodie about as I spilled my bloated guts to her about my tumultuous history—at least the one in my head—with the place. As I took a deep breath and prepared for the worst, we entered and were confronted with…old men, most of them sitting around and sipping coffee.

As I sidled up to the bar, only one girl was working the kitchen, trying her best to feed the engorged bellies of these senior citizens and now me. I looked over the menu that was hanging above us. I had what was to be expected for 25 years, the Onion Burger with Cheese ($8.00) while Jodie had the Chicken Fried Chicken ($6.00) sandwich.

We sat in a secluded part of the bar, far from the ventilator-ready wonders that seemingly run the place. By now, any residual stress that I ever felt was long gone. As a matter of fact, there was a part of me that hoped a fight would break out so I could smash a pool cue across some dude’s walker. Wishful thinking, I suppose.

After a second cup of coffee, I picked up our food and brought it to our table-ette. Jodie started in on her Chicken Fried Chicken with the greatest of pleasure. And, in all probability, even though much of the sandwich probably came from the back of a truck—the buns, patties, and vegetables—the sheer magic that the young girl made in the kitchen worked diabolical wonders with those eats.

But it was my Onion Burger—that Goddamn Onion Burger!—that filled me with the hopes and dreams of a chubby teenager and his illicit eats. Stuffed with all the things you expect—lettuce, pickles, cheese, and so on—each bite was a superb choice of mature dining, right down to the onion chunks instead of the onion strings dancing throughout. Would it be anti-Oklahoman to say that that style of onion burger is my preference?

Yep…it’s still worth it.

Regardless, I smiled as I took another deep bite, glad that I took on my culinary fears of middle childhood and hungrily will for as long as I can. Or until, you know, I’m mercilessly killed by them.


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

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