Winstead’s, Kansas City, Missouri

Winstead’s is a gem.

It’s been around even longer that I have, since 1940, and it has changed little since then, either from the outside

with its drive-through open 24/7, or the interior.

I’d heard a lot about the place, so Nancy and I walked over to Winstead’s for breakfast very early on Sunday morning after our dinner the night before at Jack Stack. I have to tell you the service was just wonderful. I ordered coffee and Nancy asked if they had any herbal teas or green tea. No, they just have one tea. Nancy then asked for a cup of hot water, received it, and dropped in one her own teabags. No sooner had she done so than Nicole, our server, came back with a couple of her own personal herbal teabags. Has that ever happen to you, anywhere, at any time in your life?

After looking over the menu, we ordered. Nancy asked Nicole if she could get just one blueberry pancake instead of the normal order of three ($5.45). Nancy does that often, and usually they insist on giving her the full order. That tempts her into eating more than she wants, and she resists by giving it to me, and …. The rest of the time she gets one but we’re charged for three: those computers apparently don’t have a special order button. Nicole took care of it: one pancake served and a charge for one pancake. Amazing!

Nancy also ordered a couple of eggs, but they missed the photo shoot. Meanwhile, I ordered the Combo Breakfast ($8.25), two eggs over easy, hash browns, sausage, and an English muffin.  

I’ll pause here mid-order to report on the high quality of the breakfast. Eggs, perfect (and they looked a lot like Nancy’s). Sausage quite good. Hash browns, memorably crisped on the surface and fluffy inside. English muffin, grilled(!), generously buttered, and delicious.

Back to my order. Winstead’s is famous for their hamburgers, which Calvin Trillin pronounced are the best in the world. Winstead’s held pride of place in the Non-Barbecue section of the list of places to eat that Doug Jacobson, the Kansas City Barbecue Maven, recommended, and one of the many recommended by my fellow Hungry Onion diners. Lunch and dinner were set so it was now or never. I ordered a burger, a single patty ($3.15) with mustard, pickle, and onion, plus cheese ($0.39). The burger come standard with mustard, ketchup, pickles, and onion. I declined ketchup. Here it is —

I love that presentation. Winstead’s burger is timeless. It’s an old fashioned burger, but one that will never go out of style. It’s smashed very thin — perhaps thinner than the healthy slice of onion that topped it —

and with a lovely crust on both sides. This is a fine burger. And those prices are the real, 2022 prices. It’s worth a trip to Winstead’s just to show off the receipt.

I’ll splurge on a double ($4.45) next time. That might offer a better beef-onion balance. The balance is pretty darn good with a single, but it’s good to check on these things. Note that I said “I’ll” rather than “I’d.” I still have a barbecue eating trip to Kansas City with the above-mentioned Doug Jacobson in the queue. We’ll eat a lot of barbecue, but we also will go to Winstead’s. So, I trust, will you.


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6 thoughts on “Winstead’s, Kansas City, Missouri

  1. I’ve never been, but hope to some day. I suggest sticking with the single burger, and removing some of the onion to make the balance better. There’s nothing like a great single burger. Those doubles are killing it for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good thought. This is a very small burger, though, and I doubt a double would be a quarter pound. Conceivably I could stop eating if it got to be too much, at least in theory.


      1. If it’s really less than 1/4 pound for two I would be really surprised. On the other hand even up to about 5 ounces for two burgers works for me, maybe six at the most. Eating half of a huge two patty burger doesn’t work for me, because the ratio of burger to bun is off.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Winstead’s! Home of the greatest hamburger ever?!!

    I had no idea that it’s still in business. Wonderful to hear that it lives up to its legendary status.

    Remember Calvin Trillin’s mockery of his friend (“the man with the naugahyde palate”) claiming that a Bob’s Big Boy somewhere in CaCalifornia had the greatest hamburger ever? It was hilarious and also perceptive about each of us having our own childhood or adolescent meals that formed our tastes for the rest of our lives.

    A couple of months ago, Toni and I had dinner in Brooklyn with the new(ish) cartoon editor for the New Yorker. (Lest anyone get the idea that I have the slightest semblance of post-boomer cool, I candidly note that her husband is in my fantasy baseball league.)

    Toni and I were resolutely trying not to be total old folk dweebs, so we avoided the whole topic of the New Yorker. But toward the end of dinner, I couldn’t resist saying, “Ah, I hate to be a fanboy, but can I ask if you have ever met Calvin Trillin?”

    Emma’s deadpan response, “Oh, yes, I call him ‘Bud.'”

    Liked by 1 person

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