|Meers' Eclectic Storefront|
If you've spent any length of time in southwestern Oklahoma, you've probably heard people talking about a place called Meers. It's exactly the kind of restaurant that people always talk about - an out-of-the-way, word-of-mouth local favorite that's been serving up legendary food for longer than anyone can remember. In Meers' case, the 'out-of-the-way' location is way out in the middle of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, the 'legendary food' is their famous, extra-lean and beefy Longhorn burger, and the 'longer than anyone can remember' is over a century. In short, Meers is a small place with a lot of character, serving up the biggest Longhorn burgers you're likely to find anywhere on earth.
|How their quirky menus explain their hours!|
Matt and I have made the 40-minute drive out to Meers a handful of times since moving to Oklahoma but, since our time here is short, we decided to make one last pilgrimage to what has become one of our local favorites. It's important to plan your visit carefully - they're closed on Tuesdays and arriving at any time close to a regular meal time will only ensure you a place in a line that's always lengthy and often snakes out the door and around the building! For this reason, we spent the morning hiking around the Wildlife Refuge and timed our visit to Meers for the lull between lunch and dinner, arriving hungry and without a line at all.
|The cats at Meers are used to waiting in line - he even brought a magazine!|
Of course, getting stuck in line isn't the worst thing, as there's plenty to keep you entertained during the wait. The shop and restaurant - a coarse amalgam of buildings leftover from various enterprises such as a Post Office, newspaper office, and general store - retains much of the original decor, dating back to 1901, with over a century's worth of knick-knacks, business cards and license plates in addition. The walls are papered with newspaper clippings, letters, and photographs, each singing the praises of Meers' famous burgers. They've been recognized by the Food Network and Bon Appetit, among others - not bad for a local watering hole!
|A sampling of the decor|
In addition to their famous burgers, Meers also serves up finger-licking BBQ, crispy chicken fried steak, a variety of sandwiches and plenty of tempting sides (including onion rings, fried okra, 'Texas Toothpicks,' and 'Frickles' which are fried bread-and-butter pickles!), all of which you can wash down with a bottle of their own brew, Meers Gold. Of course, it's the burgers that draw the most customers, including Matt and myself, and keep them coming back to this remote spot again and again. The classic Meersburger is a 1/2-pound, 7-inch behemoth cooked medium well and served with mustard, dill pickles, tomatoes, purple onions and lettuce. This burger is hefty enough for most, but I typically ask for a Meerscheeseburger with bacon - and here, the bacon is key. I'm not sure what they do to it, but it really is the best bacon I've tasted (maybe because we usually only have turkey bacon at home!).
|Meerscheeseburger with the World's Best Bacon|
For those too timid to attempt the Meersburger, there's the option of a 1/4-pound hamburger or, at the other end of the spectrum, the Prospector. With a name recalling the early days of Meers as a haven for hungry miners, the Prospector is a weighty 16-ounce burger with all the standard trimmings - certainly enough to tame any appetite. Well, almost any appetite. You see, there is one more step in the hierarchy of burgers at Meers...the epic, monstrous, too-big-to-be-believed Seismic Burger. Named for the nearby geographic fault line for which the Meers Store & Restaurant acts as an observatory, the Seismic Burger is everything that the Prospector is and more: 16 ounces of lean, mean Texas Longhorn topped with jalapeno peppers, bacon, cheese, sweet relish, mustard, dill pickles, tomatoes, purple onions, and leaf lettuce! Whew! Can you guess Matt's burger of choice?
|Matt's Seismic Burger|
During our visit, I tried to capture the ambience of the place and take as many pictures of our surroundings as I could without upsetting our fellow patrons. Unfortunately, the lighting was so poor that only a handful of pictures came out. In any case, it really is the sort of place that has to be seen to be believed. Matt and I were seated under a giant wooden cut-out of Texas, covered in over 20 varieties of barbed wire, while the couple next to us dined under some panels from a tin ceiling. We sipped our water from giant Mason jars and ate our Meersburgers out of aluminum pie plates - modern replacements for the gold pans guests ate from years ago. The menus are simple, printed affairs and I brought one home with the excuse that I needed it for this write-up - but really, it's just a good read! It's full of information about the Longhorn herd as well as the history of the restaurant and the accolades it's received. If you're interested, all of the information is available on the Meers website, with much more in addition.
|Sipping water from Mason jars|
Matt and I had worked up quite an appetite, after four hours of pre-dinner hiking, and managed to find a bit of room in our bellies for dessert in addition to our enormous burgers. We ordered a cherry cobbler with homemade ice cream to share and were presented with the largest bowlful of warm, sticky fruit, rich, buttery pie crust and dripping, vanilla-sweet ice cream that I have ever seen. The temperature contrast makes for a delicious dessert that must be eaten quickly (hence the complete lack of photos) to avoid being faced with a bowl of melted cream and syrupy red sauce, but be warned - if the burger hasn't finished you off, the ice-cream certainly will. It's delicious, but at the risk of a sugar rush followed by a dairy coma, I recommend sharing it between more than two!
|Meers displaying Oklahoma Pride!|