Cozy Inn: Decent sliders, hold your nose

Three Cozy Inn burgers on the counter of the restuarant on Wenesday afternoon, Sept. 17, 2014. The original Cozy Inn opened in Salina in the 1920s, the Manhattan branch opened in Aggieville about three years ago. Manhattan's menu differs only slightly from the original's, offering cheese on the burgers, as well as fries and a grinder sandwich. (Hannah Hunsinger | The Collegian)

Aggieville is an ideal place for restaurants, as drunk people have exceedingly low standards when it comes to food.

Located in a hole in the wall at 1109 Moro St. next to the police substation, Cozy’s offers a wide-variety of food. By wide-variety, I mean you can either have burgers or grinders.

Upon entering The Cozy Inn, I was assaulted with the smell of what I perceived as body odor. Turns out, it was onion.

Like many of Aggieville’s establishments, the most prominent feature of Cozy’s is a muted TV permanently tuned into ESPN. Decorations are sparse, limited to a menu on the wall and newspaper articles about the place embedded in the six-stool counter.

I visited on a Saturday afternoon, after the lunch hour but before the evening bar crowd poured in. I think the employee serving me was a little shocked when I said I was going to eat in rather than take the food to go. It’s as if the smell of onions was meant to keep people out. It would be a perfect place to double as a front for the mafia.

The smell was terrible, but damn it, I was going to soldier on. Cozy serves sliders, as in small burgers that can be eaten in two or three bites. At 98 cents apiece, they’re comparable in price to the cheapest items on a fast food dollar menu. For those feeling serious hunger pangs, they offer doubles for $1.59.

Within a few minutes, a piece of wax paper was set down in front of me with fresh sliders straight from the grill. I guess it cuts down on labor by not having to wash plates, or maybe they don’t trust their customers with blunt objects. Along with a can of soda and a bag of waffle fries, the wax paper was slowly pushed forward. It’s as if my server said, “Go ahead. I dare you.”

I picked up a slider, noting the grease stain it left behind on the paper. The mark of any good burger joint isn’t what’s hanging on the walls, but what’s served on the grill. The sliders were unadorned with any sort of stylish presentation, topped only with onions and pickle slices. The taste. The taste. Oh my God, the taste.

I finally understood why the unwelcome onion smell that permeated the building had to be tolerated. Disgusting when eaten separately, the combination of greasy hamburger seeping through the bun, mixed with the texture of cooked onions created a memorable flavor.

It passed my personal test. I was sober and yet I wanted more. The fries were lightly salted with a firm yet soft texture and provided a gratifying contrast that paired well with the sliders. Within the span of 15 minutes, I was finished and, much more importantly, I was satisfied.

The little diner offers combos that include either six or four sliders along with chips and soda for $7.99 and $6.49, respectively. Fries can be substituted for a quarter more. The smell of onion will stay with you the entire day and it’s not the cheapest deal in town, but Cozy offers a simple, satisfying taste of Americana not found at other fast food restaurants. Just order it to go.

3 stars out of 5.