There's very little the intrepid reporters at A Hamburger Today wouldn't do for our readers, just as there's very little I wouldn't do just to spend a minute or two with the gorgeous though notoriously less photogenic AHT editrix Honey P. When I caught wind that Honey P. was spending her Memorial Day weekend in Kansas City, I immediately set out to the shoulder of the 101 freeway with my thumb out in hopes of meeting her there for just one burger.
After a cross-country hitchhike filled with trials, tribulations, and increasingly anti-evolutionary zealots, I finally arrived on Honey P's second-to-last day in The K.C. to catch her working her way to Winstead's, one of Kansas City's oldest and most famous burger spots.
Winstead's is as classic a burger joint as Kansas City has. An albino diner complete with jukebox, counter, and leather-clad booths, it's in the '50s style, evoking that treasured golden age of burgers, though the chain dates back to the '40's.
I liked what Winstead's was cookin'. To start off, Honey P. recommended a cherry limeade, her beautiful light-brown eyes catching the Midwest sunlight like the fields of wheat that surrounded us. Skyscraper shakes that can satisfy 5 or 6 people were also available, but alas, two is the second loneliest number that there ever was. After placing our order for burgers, the limeades arrived like nothing I've ever seen before; an unnatural light-green elixir topped with sherbet and a bright-red maraschino cherry (right). Delish, I must proclaim, but not too soon, as it was quickly burgertime. Our burgers were slid in front of our eager mouths along with the kick-butt option of half-fries, half-onion rings. The rings were excellent, but the fries just ho-hum, Kansas speak for sucked.
But those burgerswhat a trip! Emerging with a look like that of any other burger, closer inspection revealed that the Winstead burger's all-steak patty was paper-thin. It was lightly crisp and spread itself over the generic bun. Almost resembling some sort of hash brown, this coarsely ground patty looked like a sandwich with thinly sliced meat resting between the breaded sheets.
Stunningly lovely Honey P. wondered if Earth's original burgers wer more akin to Winstead's than the huge greasy meat sponges we've come to expect, and I surely felt the unique blend of jive she was talkin'. Biting into the thin burger, I was pleasantly surprised that the taste was not affected by these dimensions. My razor-thin cheeseburger, with grilled onions, pickles, lettuce (though, yes, we have no tomaters), and the usual condiments, was as delicious as any regular burger I've had, leaving me without the typical guilt of having eaten half a heifer for lunch. The beef was crisp on the outside, but soft in the middle, with a great grilled flavor permeating its slightly juicy being. I could have gone for another even, so light and delicious was Winstead's offering.
After hitting the solid movie Crash (featuring several star-studded, intertwining vignettes on Angeleno race relations) in the afternoon to bridge our two disparate (and in my case desperate) worlds of New Yorker and Californian, Desi and Irish-Pollock, we celebrated our common bond of burger lovin'. Though the incomparable good looking lass that is Honey P did not approve of my loudly calling out that Toby Keith is a redneck to the packed theater as his ignorant brand of hate-tunes played overhead, I am hopeful that my dedication to the burger cause, as embodied by my long haul to Kansas, has burrowed a small place in what I know is her perfectly shaped heart. Hitting the flat Kansas highway with my thumb out for multiple rides back to the West Coast, I had a heart full of honey and a belly full of the heartland.
Location reviewed: 103rd and Metcalf; locations throughout the KC Metro region.
Short Order: Exceptionally thin, coarsely ground sirloin burgers. Some patrons may want to make theirs a double.
Topmost photograph by B. Baltimore Brown
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