Hungry Onion - Good Enough for Clint Eastwood
The term 'curb service' is so foreign a concept these days that I never for a second believed the neon sign that's up there right below the big onion. Even though it says "Curb Service" plain as day, I had always considered it a glowing relic from the days of roller skates and sock hops, one of the countless victims of the drive thru.
I'm happy to report, however, that in this case the sign is not lying. There's one of those gas station bell ropes snaked around this burgershack so they can tell when you pull in. Sure, you'll have to go to Meridian to experience it, but at least there's still one local burgershack where they come out to your car to take your order, and then they bring it back on a tray that fits on your window. That's pretty cool. The Sonic chain does it for the cheap novelty; the Hungry Onion does it because that's the way they've always done it.
In fact, a rather fortuitous thing happened after I had downed my Big Hungry Burger and crinkle-cut fries. As I got out of the car to take a few pictures, I noticed a lady doing the same. Her car had California plates.
"I thought I was the only person silly enough to take pictures of burgershacks," I said.
"We used to live here, long ago," she replied. "I used to bring my daughter here to get ice cream cones; they call them softies. They were fifty cents then. I just had to take a picture of the menu to show my daughter that we were here."
Judging by the woman's age, the time she was referring to had to be at least twenty years ago, maybe even thirty, which was about the time that the Hungry Onion got a little national fame for being in the Clint Eastwood movie Bronco Billy. The particular scene is in the first half hour of the movie, and watching it now is like time traveling. For those of you who haven't lived around here for that long, the movie shows that there used to be a car wash right next to the Hungry Onion, and across the street was a boat dealership named Meridian Marine. The good ol' Double D Seed & Feed building, which was demolished not too long ago, stands proudly in the background at the beginning of the scene.
Even though the Hungry Onion's prices have risen over the years -- a softie is now $1.40 -- they are still cheap, along with everything else on the menu. Numerous signs declaring "No Debit or Credit Cards Accepted" are part of the reason. The other part is that there's nothing extravagant about the food. It's standard burgershack cuisine, and they don't try to charge you like it isn't.
Another thing you can count on is speed. Even though there were other cars in the parking lot, our food came out in record time. I don't think it even took five minutes. And that's a good thing, because my ugly wife turns into a raging medusa when she gets really, really hungry, as she happened to be on this particular day. Because the food came out so quickly, she only had time to nag me about a bathroom renovation and a night of drinking with one of my so-called degenerate booze buddies. Any longer and it would have been much worse and probably would have included references to a new backyard shed and her lack of fashionable shoes for the upcoming season. I love you for that, Hungry Onion.
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|Famous for:||The coolest sign in town and the Clint Eastwood seal of approval|
|Is it cheap?||You bet your butt|
|Drive thru:||Nope; curb service instead. Seriously.|
|Our rating:||4 pacemakers out of 5|