Arts & Entertainment, Features

FreeP v. Food: Onion rings

By Jen Racoosin, Shaun Robinson, Diana Leane and Alex del Tufo

Onion rings from Boston Burger Company on Boylston Street. VIGUNTHAAN THARMARAJAH/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston Burger Company

Boston Burger Company on Boylston Street had a festive atmosphere, complete with string lights, holiday-themed menu items and friendly wait staff. The burger joint’s onion rings were a popular choice around the office.

The onion was cooked perfectly — not raw, but not overly fried. They had a hint of sweetness to them, both from the batter and the onions themselves. Some of us thought they could use a bit of salt, but nowhere near as much as other establishments’ onion rings did.

The rings had a tendency to fall apart, and the onion would come out of the breading too easily, but they stayed intact enough to enjoy them. The breading was a nice thickness, but the taste of the onion was at least as powerful as that of the breading.

Combined with the lack of grease, this gave the illusion that we were eating something healthy. However, some thought there was too much onion, making the insides of the rings mushy.

For a price of $8, the portion size they gave us was admirable at around 12 to 15 rings. As a plus, the onion rings are vegan and soy-free, so they were fine for our office full of tricky dietary restrictions.

Grade: A-


Onion rings from Wahlburgers in Fenway. VIGUNTHAAN THARMARAJAH/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF


At Wahlburgers, you get way more onion than you do ring for the price of $3.50.

In fact, these weren’t really rings at all — they were more like shaved strips piled high in a basket. A light batter coated the “rings,” making for an overall reasonably crispy and seriously munchable offering.

The shavings were salty and notably greasy toward the bottom of the basket. Other seasonings did come to play, like pepper and parsley, which spared these rings from blandness.

The star of the show here is the red onion, though, which made these shavings distinctly sweet and Funyun-esque. Be warned: if you don’t like red onion, you will not enjoy them. But anyone fond enough of an onion to put it on a burger should have no trouble putting down a handful, or a basketful.

Wahlburgers itself has a fun and casual atmosphere, with the chain’s signature green-on-dark-wood aesthetic just about everywhere you turn. And the large menu has about as many options as there are photos of namesake Mark on the walls — more than enough to satisfy everyone.

Overall, these rings are a refreshing take on the traditional onion ring. They’re not perfect, but they’re certainly not bad, and Wahlburgers deserves credit for giving the onions a lead role.

Grade: B+


Onion rings from UBurger in Kenmore Square. LILY BETTS/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF


Often relegated to side dish status, onion rings are overlooked for the crunchy, yet juicy twist they bring to an otherwise mediocre bulbous plant. However, the greasy onion rings UBurger serves should remain on the side.

Before taking the first bite of the onion rings, some preparation is necessary. The bites come in a layer of grease, leaving shirts susceptible to drops falling from the rings.

The rings at the bottom of the container drip with grease. Though if you eat over the container and make frequent use of napkins, you can enjoy the snack stain-free.

The fried aspect of the onion was unimpressive, as it began to flake off the moment it was picked up. Additionally, beyond the coating of grease, the rings lacked any taste of seasoning.

Yet, UBurger keeps the rings thin and lightly fried. The onion is cooked enough to lessen the plant’s potentially overwhelming flavor, but the satisfying crunch characteristic of the food remains. If not for the soppiness, the onion rings would be a pleasant munch.

One order of the rings costs about $4 and provides the customer with an impressive portion to share. With bright lights and wooden booths, UBurger encourages a casual, yet lively environment, further promoted by some festive winter lights. Onion rings are only available at the Kenmore and Andover locations of UBurger.

Grade: C


Onion rings from Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge. MIKE REDDY/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Veggie Galaxy

The first stop on our journey to find the best onion rings in the Boston area brought the E-board across the river to Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge. Assumed by the name, the restaurant is entirely vegetarian and majority vegan — making these rings a solid option for veggie friends.

Veggie Galaxy had our large group seated within half an hour. We were greeted with a friendly server, free drink samples and speedy service. The onion rings made it to the table quickly and were piled high, impressive for the $4.95 price.

However, for many of us, the enjoyment ended there. Although the E-board had mixed opinions, the general consensus found that these rings were simply tasteless.

The dough itself had little flavor and the rings were severely lacking salt. Onion rings are an unhealthy dish meant to satisfy salt cravings, and these did not do the trick.

Some of us found that adding salt fixed the problem, although many of us remained disappointed. Looking back on it, condiments may have been the solution here. Beyond the lack of flavor, the rings were unevenly fried — some perfectly browned and others undercooked.

At best these rings required a significant sprinkling of salt, at worst — inedible.

Grade: C-


  1. Thanks for visiting and for calling us out. A diner…veggie or otherwise…should have excellent onion rings! We needed to pay more attention to ours, and that C- grade was the wake-up call we needed. We’ll be working on that batter. Hope you’ll give us another try one of these days.