Health Camp in Waco survived the construction of I-35. The burger joint has provided hot meals to travelers since 1948. After the interstate diverted traffic in the Sixties, only locals and knowledgeable travelers stopped at this remnant of culinary history. The large yellow signs on the interstate help educate the uninformed.
When the burger stand opened after World War II, Texans were just falling in love with the automobile. For two decades, most of the traffic between Dallas and San Antonio passed the cafe's front door.
Before the interstate, the traffic circle in south Waco, where Health Camp sits, had a reputation as a state-sanctioned game of "chicken." I remember my father cautiously inching our big Ford into the circling traffic and saying the experience of dodging speeding cars was "enough to make a preacher cuss."
The menu at Health Camp, if you survive the traffic circle, is basic malt-shop fare. The hamburgers are tasty but small. Matched with an order of fries or onion rings and a peanut-butter shake, it's a full meal that will take you back to classic Chevrolets and poodle skirts.
Health Camp is at 2601 Circle Rd. The small dining room fills up fast, especially around noon. Call ahead to 254/752-2081, and they'll have your order ready for you.
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