#OurOcala has highlighted the growing energy that the city has been embracing. New and exciting retail, entertainment, and dining options are filling old and forgotten locations. Especially downtown. As the cityscape evolves, Ocala Main Street has been at the forefront of the push. That’s why we’re stoked to join them for the Downtown Burger Tour. Each Friday, we indulge in another of the finest culinary assemblies you can fit between a bun. What may seem like a rad excuse to enjoy great food with at least alright people is actually a labor of love to keep you informed and fed well. This week we visited Hungry Bear Drive-In. There’s definitely a reason they’re still in business after all these years.
If memory lane were an actual road, there’s a solid chance it would take you right to Hungry Bear Drive-In. Stepping up to the window to order the Mama Bear Burger was like stepping back into a simpler life. Since the 70’s they’ve been serving up delicious burgers fast from the same location. Hungry Bear has been a generational fixture for many families that live or spend time downtown.
A short walk from Osceola Middle School gets you a hand-dipped milk-shake and a tasty burger that you can buy with your allowance. The menu is headlined by the four options for their signature burgers. The Baby Bear, Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Grandpa Bear are made fresh to order and topped with Mayo, Lettuce, Tomato, and Onions. The menu features some unexpected options that will certainly make the decision for lunch a little more thought consuming than initially expected. Corn Nuggets and sweet potato fries were a welcome surprise to us all. If this weren’t the Burger Tour, a couple of Corn Dogs would’ve been in the bag as well.
Icons Of The Downtown Burger Tour
The Mama Bear with Cheese was my choice for the 5th stop of the tour. The least pretentious and most affordable burger in the tour so far absolutely did not disappoint. From the moment the brown paper bag was handed off, it seemed like worries began melting away. It could’ve been the picnic setting in the summer shade with an ice-cold Coke, but it hit right. As that white paper wrapper was peeled away from the burger, all urgency in the day’s tasks were peeled away as well.
The first bite immediately took those of us with a Hungry Bear memory straight back there. The bun was soft and not overly huge. It complemented the burger with no intent to steal the show. The slices of American cheese were one with the patties in melted perfection. The Papa Bear and Baby Bear on the other sides of the blanket looked equally delicious. This was the first burger Leighton actually finished. Sides were shared amongst us, and we didn’t leave a single fry on the plate either.
This experience was everything one could want from a fast, affordable “everyday” burger option. Tasty, quick, and made to order. Grab a hand-dipped shake, and you’re living the good life on a budget you can afford to go back to. A busy workday lunch doesn’t have to make you feel like crap as long as the gang over at Hungry Bear keeps doing what they’ve done so well for so long. Stop five on the Burger Tour was a blast from the past that still delivers today.
Stay Tuned To The Downtown Burger Tour
Hungry Bear was our fifth stop on the Downtown Burger Tour, and we’ve got plenty more ahead. Each week we will be sharing our experiences with you from many of the outstanding restaurants in Downtown Ocala. To follow our adventures, be sure to follow #OurOcala and Ocala Main Street each week as we continue our quest to find the best burger in town. Also, follow The Culture Curators on Facebook and Instagram for updates each week! Keep it locked to find out where stop number six takes us! You won’t want to miss it!
Photos via Meagan Gumpert Photography
Video via Maven Photo & Video