The Munch Box is a tiny hamburger roadside stand with a rich history. The little yellow shack is very small. Inside there is barely room for a small kitchen, its three workers and a cash register. There is a counter and a few stools outside where you can eat, though most people seem to get their food to-go. Once upon a time there was also a hitching post where local equestrians could tie up their horses.
The little restaurant is near the street in the midst of a large parking lot. The owners of the property decided a few years ago to develop the whole lot into storage units, and use the whole parking lot, including the space under the Munch Box, as a parking lot for their clients. That didn't sit well either with the Munch Box family management or with its loyal customers. The Munch Box has been such a venerated nostalgic institution, that this plan generated enough community outrage to convince the property owners to let the Munch Box stand and give it 20-year lease.
As you would expect, the Munch Box offers a very simple menu, burger and double burgers (including its two specialties, mushroom burgers and hickory burgers), hot dogs, fries and chili. Prices for most items are in the $2-3.50 range. Locals and former locals (people are said to come from all over for a taste from their childhood) love their food, but I was less enthusiastic. On my first visit a few months ago, I'd ordered a hickory burger that I wasn't thrilled about so this time I decided to go for basics and get a regular double-burger and fries. Kathy got a mushroom burger.
I'd gotten my burger with thousand island dressing, ketchup and mustard and that wasn't a great combination. The mustard was too strong and overwhelmed the taste of the burger. But even when I wiped it away, the burger wasn't anything special. It was better than a fast food burger (even In-n-Out's), but not as good as those from our Bay Area favorite Nation's.
They french fries weren't much better. They were skinny and floppy. They tasted fine (though they come unsalted) and the portion was huge, large enough for two or three servings. Those who like crispy fries, however, may be disappointed.
I had a taste of Kathy's burger and I wasn't thrilled by the mushroom sauce, which tasted like a chunky canned cream of mushroom soup. Kathy's verdict was that it was good, better than the last time she had it.
In all, I think I like the Munch Box's history much more than its burgers. Still, I'd probably go again if I had a burger craving.
The Munch Box
21538 Devonshire St