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Charcoal Oven (Closed)

2701 Northwest Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK

Note: My recent visits were to the location at 5911 Northwest Expressway, which has been closed since 2009.

The Charcoal Oven was one of the restaurants that started a trend in the 1950's and 60's by serving charcoal broiled hamburgers at a pickup window that patrons then either had to take home or eat in the car. With Oklahoma's variable and extreme weather, I am not sure who it is that thought it would be a good idea to eat meals in the car, but the idea was quite popular with people of my generation, and the Charcoal Oven did a good business with those high school students who were able to leave campus for lunch.

I always thought Charcoal Oven served one of the best Charcoal Broiled Hamburgers. This is a flame broiled burger with hickory sauce on top (other sauces are available, but I do not think the burger would be the same with anything else). The hickory sauce is a sweet tomato based sauce that tastes more like barbecue sauce than the traditional ketchup often served on burgers. The Split-T restaurant that used to be on Western Avenue may have originated this sauce in the OKC area, but Charcoal Oven developed its own version. The Charcoal Oven seems to have slipped in quality in recent years (or maybe my memories of the burgers in my high school days have been colored by the time that has passed), but it is still pretty good. The main thing I think could be improved at Charcoal Oven is the quality of the burger pattie. Even the good sauce is not enough to make me crave the burger served here.

Charcoal Oven also seems to be lacking in the customer service department. Besides the fact that they charge high prices and do not provide any place to eat besides your car and a couple of outside tables, there are other factors that leave me less than anxious to return. One is the practice of charging for a glass of water. I feel that a meal here is probably unhealthy enough with a burger and fries that I do not want to compound the harm with a pop, and it is really unfair of them to charge for water.

The Charcoal Oven is really more of a novelty restaurant than a place I would seriously advise out-of-towners to try, but the burgers are pretty good, and are representative of the charcoal broiled burgers that are served in few places besides Oklahoma. The Charcoal Oven Burger (Number 1 on the menu) would be my recommendation.



Cuisine: Hamburgers
Cost: $$
Special Features: Drive-In Only

Most Recent Visit
Aug. 17, 2006

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Item
Charcoal Oven Burger

Special Ratings
Hamburger: hickory sauce