Name that burger! A local family claims its namesake diner was the first in Cincinnati to serve up a burger with tartar sauce. (Photo by P. Malott)
CINCINNNATI - The Tri-State is home to many fascinating facts, offbeat oddities, and "I did not know that," moments. With that in mind, we introduce this new weekly feature. Read on to find out how you can submit an idea for "Who Knew?"
For our first installment, an unpretentious diner in OTR claims bragging rights for the first burger with tartar sauce in town.
According to one of its founders, who is 92 and still works there, she and her husband started it all.
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An unpretentious hole-in-the-wall diner nestled in the heart of Over-the-Rhine, Tucker's Restaurant has been serving up made-from-scratch meals for more than 65 years. While known for the hearty breakfasts, few customers have heard the story about the restaurant's flagship burger, The Big Tucker, which was the first in Cincinnati to garnish a bun with tartar sauce.
1. Most people think of Frisch's being the original burger with tartar sauce. When did Tucker's first start using the condiment?
Joe: We started five years before Frisch's Big Boy. My mom and dad came to Cincinnati in 1941 to find work. They saved their money and ended up buying a little diner. That's how it all started.
Maynie: My husband was the first one to come up with the idea. He wanted to make a bigger sandwich than a cheeseburger, so he thought he'd double it. Double meat, double cheese...
2. What's on The Big Tucker?
Joe: The Big Tucker is a double decker cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion and tartar sauce. The ingredients we use are some of the best in the city. I get all my produce and meats fresh from Findlay Market.
3. How long have you been cooking?
Joe: I've been on the grill for over 30 years. We have customers that have been coming in since before I started working here, fourth generation families. Mom is 92 years old and still comes in to work several days a week.
Maynie (jokes): I've cut down to working 10 hours a day now.
4. Besides The Big Tucker, what are some of the most popular dishes?
Maynie: The majority of my customers usually eat the same thing all the time.
Joe: Tuesday through Friday, The Big Tucker with fries is the most popular. On the weekends, Huevos Rancheros and Shrimp n' Grits are two of the best sellers.
5. What makes Tucker's Restaurant a neighborhood institution?
Joe: All different kinds of people come together here to eat. You can't really go to any other restaurant where you can see blacks, whites, politicians and artists all congregating together, having a conversation with each other at the counter.
If you come in here for weekend brunch, it will blow your mind. It's like being in New York City. Everyone who comes through our door is greeted with a smile, and if by chance we don't know your name, we'll remember you by what food you order.
MORE: Check out the Tucker's Facebook Page
Check back next Tuesday for another edition of "Who Knew?" If you have an tip, idea or question email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connect with WCPO Contributor Paige E. Malott on Twitter: @Paigetastic01 , and check out her blog CincyWhimsy.com .