Monday, February 6, 2012

Sussing Out a Great Burger at the Sunshine Store

(NOTE:  The older I get, the more vegan I am becoming.  This regressive piece was the result of being hired by the Montgomery Dining Guide to write restaurant reviews.  For some reason they changed their minds about bringing me on to their (unpaid) writing staff.  I vaguely remember it had something to do with something I said about myself in my bio...or maybe it was this first attempt(?)  I can't remember and would rather forget about it anyway.)  

One tasty hamburger awaits the adventurous diner in the remote hamlet of Montgomery County known as Sunshine. At the crossroads of New Hampshire and Georgia Avenues, lunch is served daily at a luncheonette in the back of a nondescript general store. The Sunshine Store is short on pretension and big on the taste of ground beef. And its no-frills, unchanged-since-the-60s décor is the perfect setting for enjoying that real burger flavor from yesteryear.

Intent upon learning the secret of the Sunshine Store’s burger magic, I recently bellied up to the lunch counter, took a seat on a swivel stool, ordered a cheeseburger, and proceeded to depose the short-order cook. The cook disavowed having any particular gourmet skills. Instead, she gave full credit to the grill, which looked to be about the same vintage as the rest of the place. Unconvinced. I wondered if it was the ground beef itself and asked where they bought their meat. She said their ground beef comes from the Mt. Airy Meat Locker. Ah-hah! – buying fresh meat from a local supplier might be the key that unlocks this mystery!

A little investigation revealed that the full name of the supplier is Wagner’s Meats, LLC, Mt. Airy Locker Co. According to their website,
The Wagner family has owned the Mt. Airy institution since 1953, and the current owners have been running the store since the 1960s. The family added the popular retail store 29 years ago, but the large building on Main Street also houses facilities to process beef, lamb and pork stock, ensuring that everything sold by Wagner's is fresh and produced in-house.
It appeared that this processor/wholesaler/retailer had a history that more or less tracked that of the Sunshine Store. Upon further inquiry I discovered that Wagner’s has quite the reputation for quality in the local community. One longtime Wagner’s customer, Jon Moore, remarked, “Its meat is definitely a cut above what you find in a typical supermarket.”

Whether you order a regular-size hamburger at the Sunshine Store or really splurge and get a hamburger sub, you’ll get a meaty, juicy, big and bountiful portion guaranteed to satisfy any working man’s appetite. There are other choices on the wall menu, like pulled pork, but it’s the hamburger with melted cheese tucked into an over-sized bun with lettuce, tomato and mayo – with no “special sauce” needed – that always pleases. (You can have your choice of dill or sweet pickle slices on the side.)

Perhaps, like Wimpy, I am only feeding an old addiction. But unlike Wimpy, at $5.25 I don’t always need to hit up my friends for some spare change to partake occasionally in this sentimental old craving of mine. And so, readers are directed to steal over to Sunshine whenever they are overcome by the urge for the real taste of an authentic, old-fashioned hamburger.