R.F. O’Sullivan & Son

Here’s a little known fact.

I’ve never had a cheeseburger.

OK, just kidding.  Well, sort of. This was actually a true statement for most of my life. In fact, all throughout college as I was dating Bryan (who kept trying to get me to eat one), I maintained the same position. I always ordered hamburgers (“no cheese, please”) because I honestly believed I wouldn’t like the cheese. I half jokingly would mutter, “I’ll have a cheeseburger when I turn 30.”

Well, when that day finally came, Bryan made me stand by my promise and organized a birthday party for me at R.F. O’Sullivan’s.

Jen’s order – hamburger with bacon

R.F. O’Sullivan (often called just “O’Sullivan’s) is a popular pub in Somerville that serves up a huge variety of  thick, half-pound burgers. Owner Frank Sullivan’s mantra is, “don’t squish the burgers!” Squishing causes the juices to run out, resulting in a drier burger.

The burgers at O’Sullivan’s are piled high and are themselves very tall. In fact, small-mouthed people like me have a pretty hard time taking a full bite of the burger!

Bryan’s rare “Swissroom” burger

Frank O’Sullivan personally likes his burgers rare, so he’s not afraid to serve them that way. Bryan orders rare (I usually go for medium rare), and they do a pretty good job of cooking it (i.e. they don’t overcook it).

The menu is pretty vast, and (sort of like at Bartley’s) you have your choice of more interesting burger toppings such as blue cheese & black pepper, jalapeno, or tomato & mozzarella (just to name a few). There are also many classic combinations, such as the “Swissroom” (Swiss cheese and mushrooms), the “Italian” (peppers, onions, and cheese), and your basic bacon topped hamburger.

The “Swissroom”

The ingredients are fresh, the prices are quite reasonable (around $8 for a burger), and the food is pretty good. The fries are super thick cut (straight from potatoes, skin and all!), and the onions rings are pretty good too. You can get half and half (fries + onion rings), if you want.

We still think the burgers are a significant step below our favorites (like those are Bartley’s, Craigie on Main, or other steak houses), but then perhaps it’s not really a fair comparison. I mean, some of these steak houses are making their burgers out of ground prime steak, while Tony Maws from Craigie on Main uses grass-fed beef mixed with bone marrow to make his $18 burger. Honestly, for the price, these are perfectly fine burgers and definitely have a cult following in this city.

On a related note – Bryan (loyal Californian at heart!) still favors In & Out Burgers to these, though he says he likes O’Sullivan’s a bit better than Five Guys.

And what became of my epic “first” cheeseburger experience? Well, it was OK. Anti-climatic, really. The cheeseburger from R.F. O’Sullivan’s is pretty good and definitely holds its own. However, did you notice from the photo above that I’m back to ordering hamburgers?  Nothing against cheese and all, but I guess I just like hamburgers better . . .

R.F. O’Sullivan & Son
282 Beacon St
Somerville, MA 02143
R.F. O'Sullivan & Son on Urbanspoon

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  1. Diana says

    I’m totally going to try this place next time I want a burger.

    But I agree that In & Out beats any gourmet burger I’ve had in MA so far. 

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