A journey from Dallas to Austin can be a frustrating trek. IH-35 always seems to be under construction in numerous spots and it can leave drivers in varying states of Hangry. There is no shortage of restaurant chains at the major stops along the way, but a savvy traveler can always find a hidden treasure awaiting them. One can always stop at a fast food joint for a pick me up, but for those with a hankering for something sweet, patience is rewarded at Exit 333A just off a historic traffic circle.
Since 1948, Health Camp has been serving up food on one of the oldest roundabouts in Texas. But don’t fool yourself . . . Health Camp is anything but healthy. This joint is serving up greasy burgers, shakes and malts with the only “healthy” items being the lettuce and tomato on the burger. You might be putting your life at risk on the brisk traffic circle, but this is one worthy adventure. But, word to the wise . . . have your meal before you get there. Health Camp’s main fare is pretty ho hum, but the malts and shakes are the true MVPs.
Open the door at Health Camp, and you enter a small dining room complete with tacky bright orange and yellow plastic booths and plenty of fellow diners donning Baylor gear. The food menu isn’t long at Health Camp, so don’t waste your time studying it. Go for the Super Health Burger, the double meat, double cheese offering named after the establishment. You can make it a combo with fries and a shake, but I’d advise sticking to the burger and shake. Health Camp once served “circle fries”, essentially curly fries in waffle fry form that were a tasty pairing with the burger. These days, boring starchy potato fries without much seasoning are the standard offering. Bland, sad and uninteresting, these fries are the definite afterthought of the menu.
The Super Health Burger is a bit of an “ehhhhhh”. Two flat meat patties paired with melting cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and the “special sauce” which is nothing more than a take on thousand island dressing. This sandwich is much like a Big Mac in design, not as big as one would hope and a boring beef burger that most likely came pre-frozen. At a price tag of almost $6, it’s a questionable investment.
But, redemption comes with comfort for your sweet tooth. With over 40 flavors of shakes and malts, you are committing yourself a grave disservice by not ordering one during your visit. The chocolate shake is absolutely beautiful in its sweet simplicity. The shake comes with both a straw and a spoon, and for good reason. The creamy, smooth start can only be navigated with the help of your spoon, but as you savor this delight, the warming of your shake will lead you to your trusty straw. All memories of the lackluster fries and the ho-hum burger melt away thanks to the true highlight of Health Camp.
Next time you look to drive down South, plan a dessert stop at Health Camp. Seriously, save it to your Waze account now. You will thank yourself later as your straw hunts for the final drops of goodness in your Styrofoam cup. It’s the sugar rush you need to handle the dreaded monster called IH-35.