Review: Ollie’s Trolley

I don’t generally get political in this blog, but I have to admit that it is kind of cool that on Saturday afternoon, I had the perfect, post-partied-too-hard meal from a guy who may just have catered for the next President of the United States. After our night out with friends at Mr. Pitiful’s, Hotel Plays, Tavern on the Hill, and back to my place for more socializing, the perfect meal had to be a burger. Terry requested Ollie’s Trolley, so that’s where we went.

Ollie’s Trolley is hard to miss– it’s on Central Parkway in the West End, and it’s a red trolley surrounded by pictures of local and national African-American leaders: Mayor Mallory, Martin Luther King Jr., Ken Lawson and Judge Leslie Isaiah Gaines. More prominently, on top of the trolley, are two huge photographs of the trolley’s owner, Marvin Smith, with both Barack and Michelle Obama. He’s been catering Obama fundraisers around town for some time. Besides catering, his food is take-out only, but there are chairs and tables outside if you can grab one.

I had no idea that Ollie’s was a chain, did you? I did some Googling in preparation for this post, and found out that Ollie’s (and the Ollieburger) is a super small but national chain. I mentioned to Terry that there was one in Washington, DC, and he thought it sounded familiar– he’d walked by it many times! According to an article I found based in Louisville, in the 70s there were a zillion of them, but they never really took off. There are now some locations in Louisville, the one in Cincinnati, and and a couple in DC. Apparently the ones in Louisville stay close to their burger roots, and the one in DC apparently also serves Lebanese food. The Ollie’s here serves soul food along with burgers– ribs, rib tips, turkey tips, deep fried hams and turkeys, and a bevy of sides.

We decided that burgers were the best bet. We each got an Ollieburger and fries. The fries were crispy and seasoned with paprika, some cayenne and celery seed. The burgers had a similarly-flavored sauce (Roadfood mentions that they’re based on the same spice mix), onions, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato on a soft, cornmeal-dusted bun. The burgers were good– juicy and messy– and really inexpensive. It’s hard to find a non-fast-food burger that is under $5, but this fits the bill. With fries for both of us, the bill was $13.

I can’t wait to go back and try some of their barbecue (but I think I’ll leave the deep fried ham to someone braver than I– Terry?)!

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