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Best Onion Rings and Strings?

Wondering where the best onion rings and strings might be...

To kick things off, I'll nominate Olives in Charlestown as having the best onion strings. They sell a basket big enough for 4 for $8.25...a heck of a bargain cuz the strings are stringy, with a light batter coating, a bit greasy (that's GOOD) and salted and peppered.

I am wondering who else might do fried onions as well. I am wondering who might do onion rings in a heavy batter (more typical as an accompaniment for a burger) or lightly breaded (pretty classic extra to go with a steak).

I am hoping to find places that do their own start-to-finish preps of the goods and not places that buy pre-packaged, pre-battered, pre-frozen onions.


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  1. Not a fan of strings, so can't help you there. I want my onion rings to be cut wide, not necessarily thick, with a light flaky batter that doesn't detract from the deliciously sweet onions. None of those beer battered ones for me. So my favorites can be found at Sonny's in the Adams Village section of Dorchester or Kellys in Weymouth. Although I have to admit I have given in to a few beer battered onion rings on top of cheeserburger special at the Abington Ale House. Maybe it's because of their chipotle mayo?

    1. Great onion strings (to go with the great burgers) at Bartley's in Harvard Square.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Blumie

        Second Bartley's. I've had both really great ones, and horribly greasy strings at the Met Bar in the Natick Mall (sorry, "Collection") and they were quite cheap for the amount. Also love the ones at The Clam Box.

        1. re: nsenada

          I also like Bartley's onion strings, and wil second those at The Met Bar as being awful. Not as bad as the 4 piece 1 1/2 pound of cheese mozzarella sticks I made the mistake of ordering, but still pretty crummy.

          1. re: nsenada

            Another Barley's onion string fan. Since I can only have a few and still finish my burger, I share with all the folks around me who wish they had added an side to their order. (What fun if we all did a bit of that when we're treating ourselves to something like this.)

            The last time I was seated next to two scholars from France. They enjoyed the onions and I was welcomed into a great conversation which they switched from French to English after my offer to share my onions.


          2. re: Blumie

            Love these! Also Woodman's in Essex has great onion strings - but is definitely further afield . . . .


            1. re: Blumie

              I too like Bartley's. Sonsie has good ones but they're smoked which I can only take so much of. I had really good ones at Smith & Wollensky too once. It's hard to get them right (light and flaky for me please) and usually the waitress doesn't help much when you ask for specifics.

              1. re: Joanie

                The one and only time I ever ate at Smith & Wollensky, we ordered some onion rings as the stacks of them going by our table looked so good. They arrived at our table looking beautiful, until you bit into one. Man, it was like trying to eat a dessicant. They were so dry and devoid of flavor. There were three of us, and the order of rings was maybe 8-10 of the big type. We each ate one. One of the many reasons (mostly the poor steak we had) that I won't go back to S&W.

                1. re: kimfair1

                  fleming's has really good ones -- huge, very crunchy.

              2. re: Blumie

                The ones at Big Daddy's on Western Ave have been good when I've had them, in a similar string vs big batter way.

                1. re: nasilemak

                  My DC loves the onion strings at Redbones. The beer-battered style (non-Sysco) at Spirit Bar is also one of his favorites.

                2. For those of us who like the greasy string type, I highly recommend Sadie's in Waltham.

                  1. Ah...I can also provide a schizophrenic recommendation on Willy's Phillys in Maynard. They have the thick cut, batter dipped onion rings and their texture and mouthfeel and greasiness all balance wonderfully. Lots of texture. A bit greasy, but not too much so. But the taste? I don't know...could never find it. The batter is neutral. The oil is neutral. The onions are neutral. The taste, therefore, is neutral.

                    But the texture is awesome. Go figure.

                    Their cheesesteaks are OK. Quite large. But that's another thread...

                    1. For rings, Kelly's Saugus is consistently good, Wellington Kelly's is usually good, and the Lobster Pool in Rockport has my favorite 3 of 4 times (the other time being just average but better than most).

                      1. I have always loved the thin sliced/light battered ones at Dairy Joy in Weston. They cut the onions on a deli slicer

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: hargau

                          I'm a fan of the rings at Dairly Joy, too, although given how thinly they're sliced, I'd put thm in the strings, not the rings, category. Also, they're amazingly non greasy, which I like, but some may not. And, of course, I'm sure they're closed until April.

                          1. re: Blumie

                            Celebrity on Mt. Auburn in Watertown has Dairy Joy-style onion strings -- I seem to recall someone around here mentioning that Celebrity and Dairy Joy are somehow connected -- which I had on the side of one of their excellent supercheeseburgers this afternoon. A tip, which applies to ALL string-style onion rings: salt them generously and try to eat them first, before you tuck into the burger. They're gross when they get cold.

                        2. I like my fried onions super-thin, crunchy and greasy. My all-time favorites are from Kitty's in North Reading. As far as I can tell they're the only reason to go there, but for me it's worth the trip.

                          A second is Frank's in North Cambridge. They do a "brick" of fried onions, but DO NOT GET THAT. Ask for their onion ring brick "loose".

                          1. i crave the rings at Champion's Pub on Foster St in Peabody. Fantastic steak tips too.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ScubaSteve

                              Oh ya, I need to get back to Champions for those tips.

                            2. I agree with the Bartley's rec. If I recall correctly, the ones at Flat Patties are also good.

                              1. For those of you in MetroWest, the "gourmet onion rings" at the Chat (The Dudley Chateau) in Wayland are a great version of the battered/breaded ones, which I'm not usually that fond of.

                                1. I like the thick rings at Ruth's Chris, sit at the bar with your favorite brew. I also like the basket of strings at Franks in Cambridge.

                                  1. I'm not sure I should call them extraordinary, but they were rather good and they're fresh in my mind: the Bowl-o-Rings at the new Parish Cafe in the South End. Big, just greasy enough, and with little bits of chopped chives in the batter: very fine bar food. Nice to have a bar with a slightly broader beer selection in the neighborhood, too.


                                    1. I can't believe I've never tried the onion rings at Bartley's even though I live about 10 minute walk away! I actually like the Onion rings at Kelly's as well.

                                      1. Went to Met Burger Bar and Grill last night )(a the Natick "Collecton"). DC had onion strings which he offered to 6 yo granddaughter who proceeded to eat the entire order. Very good if you like onion strings. As to the place in general, a real zoo, very crowded, loud, food ok, service ok, but you feel like you just got out of a war zone when you leave.

                                        1. Hancock Tavern in Quincy. They are on the greasy side, but not overly bready and very good.

                                          1. Onion strings at the Coach Grill in Wayland.

                                            1. I like the ones At Fat Cat very much.