Walking toward Hamburger King, the familiar scent of burgers danced in the air, creating a magnetic aura around the restaurant. I wouldn’t have noticed the squat, decrepit building if I was driving by, because it looked like it was out of business. Not even the smile of the cartoon Hamburger King himself on the cracking brick wall could breathe life into the chameleon establishment. My classmates and I crammed into the condensed nest of heat and cloudy grill smoke.
As we walked inside, we saw the food in its metamorphosis: the lady at the back unpacking meat for the hamburgers, the man at the grill tending to the sizzling patties, and the cashier at the front taking the flood of orders that suddenly poured into the restaurant. Hamburger King regulars populated the loose, unorganized collection of tables.
I was told beforehand that the menu wasn’t accurate, so I just ordered the first thing on the menu: a small hamburger with everything on it. I also ordered a bag of Lay’s chips, a Snickers bar, and a can of Coke. Then I took my seat at the retro bar at the front of the restaurant. The food arrived almost as quickly as a McDonald’s drive-thru would. I was accidentally given the wrong order, which made me worry that I paid for more food than I received, but with a smile the blonde cashier lady fixed the issue at my request, and I got the right order. She even let me pay for my meal after I’d finished eating.
As for my burger, I was overwhelmed with desire just from looking at it. Do you believe in love at first bite? If I wasn’t a hamburger person before, I am now. The competing flavors triggered a war on my taste buds, and all the flavors won. The chips, Coke, and Snickers bar made me recall my childhood, laying out by the pool and enjoying the same snack. A memorial reunion happened inside my brain, which made up for the lackluster interior of the restaurant. Eating at the Hamburger King was like flipping through an old scrapbook.
The price was also generous; I brought a twenty dollar bill, expecting to have to pay a ridiculously copious amount, when really I only needed a ten. The meal in total cost $9.50.
When I left I patted my rounded belly with satisfaction. I didn’t expect much from Hamburger King, but they slapped me with a quality burger and a reasonable price. The atmosphere was also nostalgic and it made me enjoy the experience even more. Hamburger King isn’t a five-star restaurant, but its food has five-star quality. I can’t wait to return again in tenth grade, unless my impatience forces me to return even sooner.
*Hamburger King is located at 547 South Union Street, in downtown Montgomery, near Interstate 85. The restaurant recently won EAT South’s first ever Burger Bash.