We all know Montgomery is a strange patchwork collection of restaurants tucked away in unexpected places, serving glorious food and managing to stay in business through their respective loyalists refusing to go anywhere else to meet their hunger needs. Hamburger King isn’t a place you’re likely to find on your own; it might take a friend dragging you by the wrist or directly pointing it out to you as you drive towards the interstate from downtown.
The building is tucked away on the left side of South Decatur Street; it’s one of those “if you blink, you’ll miss it” places Montgomery is sprinkled with. It’s been there since the mid 90’s but has graced Montgomery with its presence since the 1970’s at a location on South Perry. There’s also a smaller spot down Troy Highway.
The Decatur building is, like all classic Montgomery institutions, unassuming. What it lacks in curb appeal, however, it makes up for in character and quality.
It took me ages to finally make it to Hamburger King because it’s target audience is the downtown lunch crowd, of which I’m not typically a member. It’s only open Monday through Friday, 7am – 2:30pm. I didn’t actually realize they were open for what looks like an incredible breakfast until today. I’m a late luncher and Montgomery is fairly notorious for businesses closing in between meals, making it really tricky for someone who likes to eat at 3pm. But that’s a different post for a different day.
The inside matches the outside: somewhat plain and not much to speak of. It’s clean and bright. The staff is friendly and the walls are adorned with past praises and magazine clippings.
The cheeseburger (all the way!) I ordered was everything you want and nothing you don’t in a reliable cheeseburger. It’s straightforward and delicious. I especially appreciate the patty; it isn’t any sort of gimmicky, too-big-for-your-mouth monstrosity. It just is what it is: a non-frills cheeseburger with a slice of American, mustard, ketchup, pickles, and onions.
The cheese dog was the same: similar accompaniments, although the next time I crave one I’m definitely ordering two. The dog is tasty, but it’s small for a lunch. Hamburger King does offer a huge assortment of chips but there’s no need to ask for French fries, because there aren’t any.
The place is clearly popular. With good quality food and service, that really should be all a restaurant needs to make it. But I can’t help but reflect on businesses I’ve seen come and go back home in Los Angeles; without the flashy signs and shticks to lure in the public, it’s hard for a restaurant to stand on quality alone. Hamburger King, like so many old Montgomery businesses, can.
If you plan on going, bring cash or expect to pull some out at their ATM. You also honestly need to assess how hungry you are: if you misjudge, like I did, it’ll be a longer wait than you expect to get your food. The trick seems to be call-in orders. I’ve gone a couple of times now and it seems a huge portion of downtown Montgomery likes to enjoy lunch here, but they phone it in and send someone to pick up all ten of their burgers.
If you haven’t tried it yet, go! You won’t be paying much (menu below!) and you’ll be getting something I promise you’ll enjoy. Breakfast ends at 10:30 and lunch is served until 2:30. Phone it in, bring cash, and order two dogs.