Taste Of Oklahoma: Sun Cattle Co. And Chef Brad Ackerman's Onion-Fried Masterpiece

With the sizzle of the grill, a growing line at the counter and the best onion burger “Dirty Jobs” star Mike Rowe says he’s ever had, an Oklahoma City metro staple is giving customers its best.

Thursday, June 20th 2024, 9:55 am

By: News 9


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An Oklahoma City Film Row hotspot is putting a fresh spin on farm-to-table, with its beef sourced within a 25-mile radius.

Onion burgers are an Oklahoma staple, and Sun Cattle Co. is about as local as they come.

With the sizzle of the grill, a growing line at the counter and the best onion burger “Dirty Jobs” star Mike Rowe says he’s ever had, a metro staple is giving Oklahomans its best.

"It is simple, but you have to make sure it’s right every time," head chef Brad Ackerman said.

There’s no shortage of burger joints in the Sooner State, but there’s one thing that sets Sun Cattle Co. apart from the rest.

"The cows you see on the wall here," Ackerman said of the taxidermy-adorned walls of his restaurant. "[They] are literally the beef that we’ve served in the restaurant."

Ackerman is the chef and chief operating officer of Sun Cattle Co., and said the locally-sourced beef comes from the Sun Cattle Ranch in Arcadia.

However, Ackerman said his own journey started much further away, with humble beginnings in his hometown of Detroit.

"We didn’t really grow up financially stable," Ackerman said. "Going out to eat wasn’t an option, so we cooked at home a lot."

Brad says his father's cooking led to him cutting his teeth in Motor City restaurants, well before he was legally allowed to work.

"I started as a dishwasher," Ackerman said. "When one of the cooks didn’t show up, I started cooking on the line."

Despite the early start, Ackerman said it was a friendship forged in culinary school that sparked his cross-country move more than a decade ago.

"I figured why not?" Ackerman said. "Now Oklahoma’s home. I’ve lived here 12 years, I have a family, my parents live here now."

When it comes to his first taste of an Oklahoma icon though, Ackerman said it was a lot to handle.

"To be honest... I never had one," Ackerman said. "I was like 'that sounds like a lot of onions.'"

With an almost equal-amount of beef and onions, the Depression-era staple was made famous in El Reno, which is something Brad and his team at Sun Cattle Co. say they took a lot of inspiration from paying homage to the birthplace of the onion burger with a true El Reno-style burger joint in the heart of Film Row.

"We were so busy when we first opened," Ackerman said. "I mean we were going through a cow a week if not more."

Ackerman's big break though came three months into the operation, when TV star Mike Rowe paid a visit.

"He clearly travels everywhere, and if he’s doing blue-collar stuff, I’m sure he’s had a burger at many a restaurant," Ackerman said. "So to be called the best burger he’s ever eaten is a big gold star."

Despite making an amazing burger, it’s not just the onion burger drawing people in, it's Sun Cattle Co.'s onion rings that also have people starting lines out the door.

"We definitely feel like they’re the best onion rings in town these days," Ackerman said.

Going through anywhere between 6 and 12 50-pound nags of onions in an average week, Ackerman said it doesn’t look like things will slow down anytime soon.

His restaurant is so successful in fact, Ackerman said they’re looking into opening a second spot.

For those who are in the mood for something more than a burger, Thursday is steak night, featuring T-bone and ribeye steaks from Sun Cattle Ranch.

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