(Cross-posted from Indie Tulsa.)
In Tulsa, the competition for “best mom-and-pop hamburger stand” is fierce (after living here for three and a half years, I’ve yet to find a less than satisfactory burger), but one contender stands out from the pack: Hank’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers, located at 8933 E. Admiral Place — an old alignment of Route 66 on Tulsa’s north side.
Everything I’ve eaten at Hank’s has been good — the chili, the fries, the burgers — but two items stand out from the pack: the Big Okie and the chocolate-covered peanut butter balls. Even after consuming the former (a behemoth of a burger consisting of four, count ’em, FOUR quarter-pound beef patties, layered with cheese, grilled onions, and all the trimmings), I manage to find a little room for the latter.
A couple of years ago, during our first encounter with the peanut butter balls, Ron and I noticed a sign taped to the side of the Pepsi machine that read: “We hate to brag, but these are the best thing you have ever tried.”
It’s a bold assertion, but it comes close to the truth. As far as I’m concerned, there are only two desserts better than a peanut butter ball from Hank’s, and neither is available in Tulsa.*
When Waylon Jennings came through Tulsa, Hank’s was one of his favorite haunts — as evidenced by the autographed photographs of Jennings and his wife, Jessi Colter, hanging in the dining room.
When I stopped by for lunch one afternoon, a radio in the kitchen was playing a James Taylor tune, and the tantalizing smell of grilled onions and sizzling beef hung in the air. I got a single cheeseburger — cooked to order, with grilled onions, mustard, tomato, and pickles — for $2.84 and paid 75 cents apiece for a half-dozen peanut butter balls.
It took all the restraint I could muster to keep from eating the entire bag of rich, creamy, truffle-like creations on the way back to the office.
Hank’s opened in 1949 and has been in its current location — a small yellow building on Tulsa’s oldest alignment of Route 66, between Mingo and Memorial — for more than 50 years. The restaurant is open from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The dining room closes at 6:30 p.m., so plan accordingly.
*The only two desserts I love more than Hank’s peanut butter balls are the Dutchman’s Delight concrete from Ted Drewes’ Frozen Custard in St. Louis and the maple truffles from Funk’s Grove Maple Sirup in Shirley, Ill.