Today, Sept. 18, is National Cheeseburger Day 🍔, so I suggest you block out some time to grab a thick, juicy burger to celebrate.
If you are in the market for fresh destinations to secure a solid case of the meat sweats in beef patty form, you could always go with the burger restaurant brand of the year announced by the Harris Poll EquiTrend Study earlier this year — Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which was No. 1 for the year after some fairly exhaustive polling across the country.
Or, you could opt to go with something off the beaten path.
Here is my short list of throwback diners and gritty dives that offer the best bang for your burger buck with a healthy dose of history served up alongside beef patties that are flavorful and done right.
This list represents some destinations worth visiting if nothing else for the fun adventure they provide. Not all burgers are created equal, but sometimes the location and atmosphere helps add another layer of deliciousness to the meal.
🍔 Benjamin’s The Burger Master
100 N. Main St., Dayton
937-223-8702 | Website
When you have “Burger Master” in your name and the subject is hamburgers, it’s the equivalent of throwing down the gauntlet. This underrated Dayton restaurant does a lot more than burgers and the cafeteria style set-up is an entertaining throwback. The burgers are as tasty as the prices.
🍔 Blind Bob’s
430 E. Fifth St., Dayton
937-938-6405 | Website
The stuffed burgers at Blind Bob’s are some of my favorites in town. The Island Delight Burger ($10) stuffed with sweet pineapple and zippy pepper-jack cheese, covered in a teriyaki glaze with a tangy wasabi-mayonnaise is a favorite, but any of the many stuffed burger options will impress and satisfy.
🍔 George’s Family Restaurant
5216 N. Dixie Drive, Dayton
937-275-0705 | Website
George’s was voted Dayton’s Best Diner in the Dayton.com Best of Dayton poll. It won with voters for a reason — it’s a great spot to grab grub with a extensive menu at reasonable prices. There are nine burgers to choose from ranging in price from $4.75 to $7.95.
🍔 Hasty Tasty Pancake House
3509 Linden Ave., Dayton
This old-school establishment is a great place to grab breakfast. It also has a “Tasty” burger that’s has all of the makings of a Frisch’s Big Boy sandwich, but on a more robust scale. For my money you can’t go wrong with tartar sauce on a burger and this burger delivers it in spades.
🍔 K’s Hamburger Shop
117 E. Main St., Troy
937-339-3902 | Website
This throwback diner grinds its own beef into some of the most affordable hamburgers you can get in the region. The five homemade soups (vegetable, potato, beef, noodle and chili) and homemade salads offer great pairing opportunities. If you yearn for a healthy dose of Americana, look no further.
🍔 Kewpee Hamburgers
111 N. Elizabeth, Lima
This is a drive to consider when the leaves start painting a gorgeous fall canopy. The second-oldest hamburger chain in the U.S. after White Castle has very few locations left, but three are in Lima, Ohio. Their slogan is “Hamburger pickle on top, makes your heart go flippity-flop!” Get ready for a great big dose of nostalgia and some semi-creepy baby dolls.
🍔 Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe
125 N. Broadway St., Greenville
937-548-9340 | Website
This Darke County institution’s sandwiches that it is known for are less burger, more steamed loose-meat, but it’s got all of the same ingredients, just easier to chew. This little brick building with a wall of old gum wrapping it up has been in business since 1934 with a recipe and vision that remains the same. Grab a shake or a malt and you’ll be in business.
🍔 Nick’s Restaurant
1443 N. Detroit St., Xenia
937-372-3202 | Website
Located off of the bike path along U.S. 68 in Xenia, the restaurants Big Nick half-pound burgers are a staple — add bacon and cheese and Nick’s special sauce for a total of $8.49. There are other burger options featured on the menu, but this is definitely the one to start with.
🍔 Old Hickory Bar-B-Q
241 Woodman Drive, Dayton
(937) 253-4065 | Website
With nine hamburger options ranging in price from $4.25 to $5.25, this is a destination that’s easy on the wallet. Most of the burgers come dressed with BBQ sauce, so get ready for a little zing-zing.
🍔 Slyder’s Tavern
836 Watervliet Ave., Dayton
937-258-1222 | Website
If you haven’t been to Slyder’s, make a plan to get there. Winner of the 2016 Best of Dayton poll, this is a burger that has continued to impress me for years. A seven-ounce cheeseburger is a modest $6.45, while a 10-ounce will set you back $7.15. This is a modest little neighborhood bar that puts out really great food and has been one of my go-to spots for years.
🍔 Tank’s Bar & Grill
2033 Wayne Ave., Dayton
937-252-2249 | Website
Known for its half-pound Tankburger ($7.49), this is a creation that demands you arrive hungry. Add some cheese and grilled mushroom and onion, and you are seriously cooking.
🍔 Voltzy’s Rootbeer Stand
4668 Springboro Pike, Moraine
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, flashy about Voltzy’s, which is part of its great charm. That and the flavorful personality of owner Rick Volz only adds to the experience. This menu is probably the one on this list that has the most fun with the modest cheeseburger. The “Betty Ann” is a steal at just $3.40 for a double cheeseburger with raw onion, pickle, mayo and double cheese. I also love the “Yuna Lee” — a double cheeseburger with an onion ring, sweet mustard and horsey sauce. If you are looking to entertain on a budget, 10 sliders will set you back just $12. Any on this list are delicious options that are priced right, but I’ll likely be scheduling a trip to see Rick tomorrow. Voltzy’s burgers are what National Cheeseburger Day is all about!