You heard right. Burgers! Continuing on the quest for Hawaii’s “perfect” or “best” burger, I had to enter this Tony Roma’s “sleeper” menu item into the running.
Bacon Swiss Mushroom Burger Smothered with melted Swiss cheese, crisp bacon strips (opted out of my order) and sliced mushrooms. $7.99
When you think of baby back ribs, Tony’s Roma’s is arguably THE top-of-mind restaurant which comes to mind. Who would think they would have great burgers? Or steak? Or seafood? Well they sure do!
Speaking for the Waikiki location, they crank out consisently excellent dishes every single time. Not once have they flopped an order on us. Always grilled to smokey, seared perfection. Never over or under done.
Getting to the burgers here, the selection is fairly basic: Crispy Onion Burger, Bacon Swiss Burger, Bleu Cheese Burger, Cheesy Burger or the Roma Burger. All $7.99, except the Roma for $7.49. The patties are 100% ground chuck, and includes (very fresh) iceburg lettuce and tomato slices. Also included are a large side of excellent, home-cut fries (with some skin!), a dill pickle and serving of their also-excellent coleslaw. What a value! Try get that in “Paradise”… no way.
Let me tell you, after eating all that, you’ll be more stuffed than a Thanksgiving Turkey. lol
As usual, I chose the Mushroom Burger, sans the bacon. For me, the bacon takes away from the beefy flavor of the burger which defeats the purpose. Now this burger is huge, It’s juicy and the buttery sauteed mushrooms and swiss cheese just melt and marry together perfectly. The bun is your usual packaged variety, but it’s hearty and fresh. This order, the cook overlooked giving it a light toast, but usually they do that. That’s O.K.. it’s still good. I stay away from ketchup and mustard or special sauces (TR’s doesn’t acclaim to any one made for burgers), opting only for mayonnaise swiped on the bun. Simple.
The fries in this particular take-out order weren’t as fresh as they usually are (I placed this order just before closing), but they were still delicious. Usually their fries are done perfectly tender with a light golden brown exterior. That’s OK.. they redeemed themselves by giving me a slightly larger than usual portion (last batch of the night?). he he.
And who would expect a side order of ‘slaw with a burger? What a nice compliment to the burger’s savory heft. It also sort of buffers your palate, so every next bite of that juicy burger seems just like the first. Wonderful.
There should also be a rule that EVERY American sandwich and burger shop are REQUIRED to serve a dill pickle on the side. Along with that coleslaw, the pickle’s acidic tang also helps clear the taste buds, allowing you to savor the complex flavors involved.
Tony Roma’s knows their ribs, and they sure do know their burgers!
Take-out orders have a .75 cent packing fee. Worth it, considering their attention to details. Hot and cold items are carefully segregated and all the condiments and utensils you’ll need are supplied.
A great burger is certainly a matter of personal taste and timing, as to how great your appetite is at that very moment. So why would this be a contender to be named “Hawaii’s best”? Well, based on simplicity, flavor, freshness, portion, value and ambiance, TR’s burgers has all the right stuff.
Tony Roma’s Waikiki – 1972 Kalakaua Ave.
Beside their excellent food, what I love about Tony Roma’s is their cozy Tavern-like ambiance their restaurants have. The Waikiki location is small and therefore usually at full capacity.
The Kahala location closed this past March after a long run there. The only other full-service TR restaurant on Oahu is located in Aiea, across the street from Anna Millers near Pearlridge. They also recently opened a Tony Roma’s Express in Ala Moana Shopping Center’s food court.