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Swenson's Galley Boy is this year's Akron Life & Leisure "Best of the City" burger.
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The newly remodeled Hawkins location.
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The original on Cuyahoga Falls Avenue.
Galley Boy! Mummm. There is the main reason why the 7-location Swenson's Drive-ins is the perennial winner of our "Best of the City" Burger. It just doesn't get any better than this concoction of two ground beef patties with Swenson's special secret seasoning, two sauces, runny gooey yellow cheese, and homemade bun. Would-be competitors beware.
Swenson's is also the quintessential drive-in, with carhops running around all over the parking lot taking orders (most customers don't even need a menu) for nine different variations on the hamburger, plus shakes, fries, tots, onion rings, salads, soups and even sloppy joes. The original location on Cuyahoga Falls Avenue in north Akron has been there since the early '30s, and the recently rebuilt location on Hawkins, just south of West Market, has a 1934 cornerstone. Can you say tradition?
Current owner Steve Thompson either operates or franchises seven locations, and you can more or less see the evolution of the chain in the architecture of the newer locations such as Fairlawn or Jackson Township.
About that secret beef patty recipe: I don't think anyone at Swenson's is about to give anything away on that, but there are rumors of a great many seasonings, including such things as brown sugar, coffee, rosemary, and a couple of others. My somewhat educated taste buds side with the rosemary for sure. I love Swenson's burgers, and I'm probably in one of the locations at least twice a month for a Galley Boy with a small California...a concoction of grape juice and citrus soda. Try the Florida...the same thing made instead with orange juice.
If you pull into one of the numbered parking places and turn on your headlights, a hop will be running over in less than a minute. Or, you can call ahead. Here's a link to the Swenson's web site, which has the complete menu and location phone numbers: