Al’s Hamburgers opened in 1957. It’s an Arlington icon. With a menu that likely hasn’t changed much over the years, this old-school, family-owned restaurant serves up classic burgers in a surprisingly modern setting. My wife and I recently made our first trip there and will be going back soon. Let’s check out Al’s Hamburgers.
Location and first impressions
After 31 years (1989-2020) at the same location, Al’s Hamburgers moved a few miles away to its new home. It’s been in its third location for nearly a year, and the place still looks brand new. It’s now located near Fielder and Randol Mill in the Fielder Plaza shopping center. Don’t let its location fool you. Shopping centers sometimes have hidden treasures when it comes to restaurants.
The first thing I noticed was the outside lighting. It immediately felt bright and welcoming. Inside, the feeling continued. It had a nice ambiance — clean, bright, airy, and open. (The open layout could be because of COVID-19, but it worked for me.)
Two of the dining room walls had floor to ceiling windows, which offered views of cars passing by on Fielder Street and the shopping center’s hustle and bustle. Had it been daytime, these windows would have allowed in plenty of natural light. Seating in a fairly-large, heated, outdoor patio was also available. In one corner of the restaurant was an open kitchen. The other corner had a small bar serving a few draft beers and liquors.
Even though it was Saturday evening and they were busy, there was no wait. Just walk right in and sit down. That works for me — I don’t like waiting at restaurants.
Despite the modern feel of the building, there is definitely an old-school vibe.
Menu and Food
The “Al’s Famous Burgers” section of the menu features ten burgers. From single, double, and triple-patty burgers, there’s an even bigger burger and a spicy version of it as well. A chili cheeseburger is available, with an open-faced option if you’d rather. Try the Mushroom Swiss, Texas Patty Melt, or go vegetarian with the Black Bean Burger.
Their menu also has appetizers, salads, sandwiches, “plates and such,” daily specials, a low-carb section, stuff for the kiddos, and desserts. Everything sounded good, but since it was our first time, we both opted for the cheeseburger.
I like a classic cheeseburger—just a good, old-fashioned burger with no-nonsense. Al’s does it right.
The cheeseburgers have about a 1/6 pound patty. They were nicely seasoned and grilled to perfection. It’s topped with shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, chopped onions, American cheese, and mustard. Everything tasted fresh. It’s served on a perfectly toasted bun — and I mean perfectly! The toasted bun completely took the burger to the next level. I never realized that the bun could have such a significant impact on a burger!
You can choose between fries or tater tots. We both went with the tots. (In hindsight, one of us should have gotten the fries to try them out!) The tater tots were crispy and a tasty complement to the cheeseburgers. The ensemble is served in a plastic basket with a red and white checkered liner. The whole thing is done right. Our bill came to less than $15. Not bad at all for the quality of the food and overall experience.
Al’s Hamburgers certainly feels family-owned. It has a friendly and attentive staff, while its unpretentious and no-frills menu is a throwback to its roots.
Al’s is proud of its history, and rightfully so. There are many framed newspaper articles and photos on the walls, showing the history over the years. It feels nostalgic.
What started out as a simple drive-in back in 1957 has grown into an Arlington icon. When the initial lease ended at the drive-in, Al assumed he would retire. Al’s Hamburgers was thought to be gone forever, as a shopping center replaced the spot. But after a couple of years, he decided to return. In 1989, they reopened at a new location as a restaurant instead of a drive-in. That location was just as popular. They moved to their third location around May 2020, not far from where the original once stood.
Not many Arlington restaurants have lasted since the 1950s. You have to do many things right to last that long. I imagine that the cheeseburgers we had weren’t too different from the ones at the 50s drive-in. It goes to show that the best way to make a burger is with consistency. Perfectly toasted buns don’t hurt either.
Al Mathews died in 2014 at age 85 after decades in the burger business. Today, the restaurant is operated by Al’s daughter, Melody, and her husband, Gary.
1276 N. Fielder Road
Arlington, TX 76012
Sarah Blaskovich. (2020, February 5). Al’s Hamburgers, open for more than 60 years, will move to new Arlington address. The Dallas Morning News. Accessed February 13, 2021.
Photos by Jason and Jennifer Sullivan. Post by Jason S. Sullivan, 02-15-21.