Robert’s is a museum-piece town café, El Reno’s oldest extant hamburger shop, going back to 1926. Starting at six in the morning, its fourteen-stool counter is occupied by regulars who come for coffee and eggs and home fries or – even at dawn – a brace of delicious onion-fried burgers. Proprietor Edward Graham, who started in the business by slicing onions as a kid, slaps a round of beef on the grill and cooks it with a fistful of onions until the onions become glistening, limp squiggles that only partially adhere to the meat and tend to fall from inside the bun as soon as the sandwich leaves its plate. The hamburger, infused with the sweet taste of onions, is juicy and rugged-textured.
Robert’s is a good place to sample El Reno’s second passion (after onion-fried burgers), slaw-topped hot dogs, which are known here as Coney Islands. Mr. Graham makes a coarse, pickly slaw that seems to be an ideal complement for the chili sauce that tops the dog.
As for ambience at Robert’s, there is none, other than pure, unadulterated American Hash House. Décor is nothing more than a picture of the Pro-Stock race car that Robert’s co-sponsored along with Don’s Muffler Shop in 1995.