Tommy’s Hamburgers

Here is another tale from the northwest side of Fort Worth far away from the urban villages and busy Downtown and Cultural/West 7th Street districts. This note is about a great, down home hamburger joint near the shores of Lake worth. They also have fried catfish and beer too….

A good hamburger is hard to find they say. Tommy’s Hamburgers was always good and easy to find. Tommy’s was a service station/hamburger stand chain in the area. One of its locations was on northwest Loop 820 in Lake Worth at Navajo Trail. When we started dating and going together, we went there since it was near your house. But the reason for going there was not just the location, it was because the burgers were always delicious and fresh.

Not to mention the fact that since it was also a convenience store, so one could help one’s self to a cold six pack of beer to consume with the burger, fries, and onion rings. It was one of those places you might see on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives— a roadhouse, if you will. No matter what you called it, they had very good food; and it was popular with the locals.

The way they prepared their fare was classic local grub. The patty was thin and grilled on a flat metal grill. The buns were toasted and then mated with the meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, and either mayo, mustard, or both. And, of course, since it’s in Texas, you could get a bunch of jalapeños added. The rings and fries were hot and crispy, just waiting for a good squirt of ketchup to fix them up as well. The fare was truly excellent and filling food that was nothing fancy but always delicious and fresh.

We ate there on several occasions when we were working on your house or just for lunch or supper when we felt like it or were over on that side of town. And we weren’t the only people there; on any day, there were always an assortment of cars parked on the side of the building or getting gas.

Another thing about Tommy’s was the fact that since you had eaten there for years and the people behind the counter had been there that long also, we always had friendly service. Going there was more than just getting a fresh, hot burger, it also made you feel good and made you feel like you were around friends. Truly Tommy’s was special and not some cookie-cutter hamburger chain like McDonald’s with its mediocre, tasteless, and faceless fare.

So when the Lake Worth Tommy’s service station was sold to Navajo (there are other surviving Tommy’s Hamburgers stores; the Lake Worth 820 location was the original Tommy’s, by the way), it was a very sad day indeed since we heard the hamburgers were no more.

If the Lake Worth Tommy’s had been a person, its funeral would have had many mourners present. We probably would have been amongst that sad throng, hoping it would somehow be resurrected to live again and to cook more fine meals for its faithful disciples—not just be a little footnote in the area’s culinary history that in a few years, no one would remember.

But in fact they still make hamburgers there. It is now called Navajo Burgers. So in a way, the Lake Worth Tommy’s continues: the folks on the grill there will tell you, “We make the same hamburgers; we just have a different name.” That small name change does teach us that nothing lasts forever. We all get used to favorite places we frequent; but like many things, they change into something else.

So the burgers do live on and are just as good as they used to be. (I had the cheddar jalapeño burger recently.) It’s the same thing; it’s just different as the old saying goes. The same grill and meat are there; it’s just called something different. And thankfully for the pallets of its many loyal patrons, the report of that hamburger joint’s demise was premature and exaggerated indeed.

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