In the past few years, we have noticed an influx of restaurants in Dayton claiming to sell “gourmet” hamburgers. Many of these places allow you to add fried eggs, avocados, and even fried pickles to your burger for an additional cost. We have enjoyed Food Adventures while pigging out of these places of course, but The Big Ragu and Crew are simple creatures, who like their burgers made simple. If you are like us and want a great “old school” style hamburger, you need to head down to the Hamburger Wagon in downtown Miamisburg, Ohio. The little white cart with the red awning is an institution in Miamisburg that has been serving up hamburgers since Dayton’s Great Flood almost a hundred years ago.
It all started in 1913, when a tremendous flood devastated the city, leaving many houses and lives destroyed. Thousands of people ended up living in tent cities. Hot food was pretty sparse and this led Sherman “Cocky” Porter to dig out his families recipe for hamburgers and pass them out to flood victims. The people loved the burgers so much, Porter decided to sell them on Saturdays in a little “Hamburger Wagon.” They have been serving burgers ever since.
Our endless journey for special dining places, led us to the “Burg” to enjoy some of Porter’s incredible hamburgers. When Food Adventures arrived at the Hamburger Wagon, we were pretty happy to see only two people ahead of us in line. If you have ever gone to the Hamburger Wagon on a weekend, there is usually a continuous line of people waiting to indulge in these wonderful hamburgers. We decided to look over the menu and that literally took about 2 seconds. The menu has only four items on it: a single, a double, potato chips, and pop. We didn’t dare ask for cheese because the sign states “No stinkin’ cheese or sloppy sauces”. Hungry Jax was bummed about the no cheese rule while a sauce loving Ragu had to come to terms with the fact that he can’t destroy this hamburger with his usual arsenal of sauces. We decided to comfort each other and go on with the Food Adventure. We each ordered three burgers, a bag of chips, and soda. We stood back and watched the magic happen.
Each little burger is thrown in a deep cast iron pan of hot grease and cooked up until it is nice and crispy. Just imagine how large the Big Ragu’s eyes got when he saw the hamburgers go in the old fashioned deep fryer! Once the burgers are done cooking, they are thrown on a bun, topped with a pickle slice, onion, and a dash of pepper. The burgers are then tossed into a paper sack and placed in our bratwurst looking fingers. No wraps, just a napkin or two. Maybe the lack of post cooking packaging is the way that the Hamburger Wagon shows they care about the environment.
The dining room choices are about as plentiful as the menu: you can either sit in your car or enjoy a nice cozy park bench. It was a beautiful day out and we decided to sprawl out on the park bench and enjoy the weather and the burgers. We absolutely loved the fact that we didn’t have to waste precious gorging time removing the piping hot burgers from any wrappers. We were amazed just how good these hamburgers tasted. We are considering starting a petition to rename the city Miamisburger. We don’t exactly know what the recipe is, but we were told it’s a combination of hamburger, sausage, and corn flakes. Whatever the recipe is, it’s absolutely amazing! One of the most appealing things about the burgers is the “crunch factor.” They are already crunchy from being deep fried and when you add the pickles and onions, the sandwich is taken to a whole new level. Trust us when we say that these are some of the tastiest and most unique burgers that you will try.
The next time that you are near Miamisburg, we highly recommend checking out the iconic Hamburger Wagon. If you have been to the wagon, then we “spoke” too soon (groan). The food is one of a kind, and you won’t go bankrupt while feeding your family. A single burger, bag of chips, and can of pop each cost $1.10 and a double burger rings up at $2.20. We like this place so much we were sizing up how to roll the wagon away with us. Maybe they would at least let us ride around in it for a while for a real Food Adventure.
Sometimes, good things can come out of a tragedy. Due to an event like the 1913 flood, your grateful foodies The Food Adventure Crew, are able to enjoy these little hamburgers, with the big taste, today.
Have you been to the Hamburger Wagon? If so, what are your thoughts on this legendary eatery in Miamisburg?
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