Hunky's. Speaking of names, "Hunky's" is the worst--too easy a target even to aim at. But the place has been around so long, no one probably even notices. This is a Happy Days hamburger heaven, updated slightly (there's grilled chicken on the menu) and plunked down in the heart of Dallas' only overtly gay neighborhood. Smack in the middle of the Cedar Springs scene, this little hamburger joint takes itself seriously and operates according to a simple formula, true and tried in every city in America: fast service, good burgers, fresh french fries, and real milkshakes. But this isn't fast food, even though it sounds like a McDonald's menu. It's efficient food, yes, but everything is freshly prepared to order.
Hunky's also serves cheeseburgers, double-meat, hickory, bacon, or turkey burgers, as well as the hamburger's successor, the grilled chicken sandwich. (It's a question whether you could tell the difference between the hamburger and the grilled chicken in a blind tasting. Not even a question if both sandwiches had ketchup on 'em. At one time, the encouraging thing to say to someone about to take their first bite of alligator, frog legs, or rattlesnake was "Tastes like chicken." Now chicken is trying to taste like everything else.)
The delight of Hunky's lies as much in the scene as in the food. Cedar Springs is one of the few streets in Dallas where you actually see street life even in the daytime. The folks eating in Hunky's and shopping the strip probably didn't drive in from Preston Hollow or Lakewood; they actually live in the neighborhood, maybe even within walking distance.
That said, there's not too much more to say about Hunky's, even for me. You order at the counter, but the burgers are brought to your table. The prices are low. The buns are toasted. The basic burger is topped with lettuce, onion, and pickle. The meat is in proportion to the bun. The thick but suckable milkshakes are made with Bluebell ice cream. And only the onion rings are disappointing; they're those big pillowy things dipped in beer batter you take a bite of and the onion slides out and down your chin like a hot snail. (Didn't I mentioned dining rules of thumb? How about No. 146, "Avoid ordering anything dipped in beer batter"? You'll be sorry.)
--Mary Brown Malouf
Hunky's, 4000 Cedar Springs, (214) 733-FOOD. Open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday noon-10 p.m.
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Old-Fashioned Burger $3
French Fries $1
Onion Rings $1.25
Grilled Chicken Breast with Cheese $4.95