Sunday, October 4, 2009

Winstead's: 101 Brush Creek Blvd

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hey guys, check out Winstead's awesome website. Go ahead and click, I'll wait...

Like anyone who's been around this long, Winstead's gets a pass on the technology front.

This local chain has been around since 1940 when Kathryn and Nelle Winstead moved from Illinois to open a drive-in burger joint on Brush Creek Boulevard near the Plaza. I can only assume that this is the same building as the one that sits there today, but it almost looks too well-preserved.

While it's not the best place for lunch in the world, Kansas City should be proud of Winstead's, particularly this original location. They serve cheap, old school food here and manage to pull off the nostalgia schtick without beating you over the head with it. Thin, griddled burgers are the staple, served with condiments pre-applied and thick slices of white onion. The latter is particularly notable because raw onion is not the most popular ingredient these days, much less 1/2 inch slabs of it. It takes balls to cap off a burger with something like that. Of course, you can always order your burger with grilled onions instead, which many people seem to prefer. Whatever.

Winstead's

And the burgers are pretty good in my humble opinion. The patties are little free formed discs which are smashed flat on the grill. They arrive wrapped in wax paper on blue-accented Winstead's china. The burgers won't knock your socks off, but every once in a while I get a craving that only a double from Winstead's will sate.

The fries and onion rings are only slightly more than fast food quality and preparation. Not bad, but neither one really does it for me.

There are a bunch of other things on the menu including breakfast items which they serve until 10:30 a.m. This means if you show up hungover on a Saturday looking for breakfast at 10:45, you're getting a burger.

The interior space is very interesting, despite a somewhat unfortunate teal and puce color scheme. It is a wide open room with art deco homages like these ceiling lights.

Winstead's

Winstead's is probably the cheapest place in town to offer waitservice as well. The servers here are pretty darn quick and know how to get you in and out in hurry.

Most people who read this blog have probably eaten at Winstead's, and I can't add much to your interpretation of the experience. But I enjoy checking it out once in a while. The burgers are good and the ambiance is pretty interesting. They have a few locations around the metro including one on Metcalf in Overland Park and one on Shawnee Mission Parkway. I enjoy the original location most of all. The people watching is pretty much unparalleled and the service seems to be better there.

I'd love to hear people's memories of Winstead's, good or bad. This place has been around for years and supposedly played a role in the social lives of many teen in the 60s and 70s.

If you want to learn more there is a nice, short bio of the founders on the Web courtesy of the Kansas City Public Library.


Top photo courtesy of Brandon Burke on Flickr.

17 comments:

Christy said...

There's actually two on Metcalf. The one off of 103rd and Metcalf is kinda hidden. There's also one at 95th and Monrovia and another down near 135 and Nall. Um, not that I keep tabs on where I can go and get a double with cheese and ketchup and a cherry limeade.

Shicho said...

our daughters always ask to go eat “onion burgers & fries”. they’re also partial to the shakes. and the plaza location has been a family winter holidays tradition for several generations: hot chocolate, fries & a burger is the staple, though some in-law invariably embarrasses himself by ordering a salad...

Alex J. said...

You've got to get the burgers "wet" with condiments. The burgers are far too dry to stand on their own. With cheese, mayo, mustard and ketchup, they're ok.

sallymander said...

Memories of Winstead's:
-Going to the Plaza Winstead's with my uncle and eating in his truck with car-side service.

-Skyscraper Sundaes to celebrate friend's birthdays through most of grade school.

I ask for my fries "well done". They brown them a bit in the fryer, which takes them beyond the standard fry, imho.

kate said...

The giant chocolate milkshakes alone are worth the trip...damnit. Now I want Winsteads'.

JH said...

Yeah sallymander, WTF is up with the undercooked fries? It must be company policy

JJSKCK said...

I can't say that I have many Winstead's memories. Growing up in KCK, they just weren't an option. I've probably eaten at Winstead's 5 times in my life. I do remember they used to win "best burger" surveys all the time, but that had to be mostly nostalgia-driven.

Bob said...

I like the burgers; but after 50 or 60 years, they still can't do a decent fry.

The old drive-in was enlarged and built around some years ago. It never looked anything like it does now.

Chimpotle said...

I've lived in KC nearly 30 years and have never eaten food at a Winstead's. I think I stepped inside one once in high school.

Bill said...

More than 2 on Metcalf as there is one at 80th and Metcalf as well.

Winsteads has the best onion rings in town, not sure why you'd want to have their fries when rings are an option and sallymander hit the nail on the head, order them "well done" and they are perfect.

My favorite order is a fried egg sandwich + bacon, lettuce and tomato which is cheaper than a blt + fried egg.

Oh and the Plaza Winsteads has a free jukebox with all the James Brown (Hot Pants & Sex Machine) you could need.

Elizabeth said...

I worked at Winstead's (Blue Springs, MO location) during highschool. Fountain Girl forever!
Also, the fries are super thick steak fries and need a lot of time to fry, which most employees forget as they are (or most) are too stoned to remember.

p.s. I hated Skyscrapers.. which took 4 milkshakes to make!

A Year on the Grill said...

I just found your site, and I am loving it... A terrific specialty blog that you should be very pleased with. I live in Shawnee, so I get to your specialty area a few times.

I will be checking back often (I just clicked your follower tab)

Thanks for your effort, well done

Dave

The DLC said...

Thanks for the nice words Dave, and thanks to all who have weighed in. Why didn't I get a shake?

Matty'sFood said...

I love Winstead's! I always get a double-cheese plain or with grilled onions and 50-50 fries/onion rings. I crave it all the time, but that meal is still $7, which is a little pricey for "fast food" in a drive-through. As a way underemployed person at the moment, when I crave a burger I shop around the $1 deals, (Arby's 5 for $5, BK double cheese $1 right now on promo, Sonic Jr. deluxe for $1, etc.) When my ex-sister-in-law visits from Houston, she always insists we meet at Plaza Winstead's, the the kids always get to share a scyscraper soda, and SHE always buys! I love her visits!

Matty'sFood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EmilyGlaze said...

As a native of Kansas City, I have such fond memories of Winsteads. I went to grade school and middle school up the street (St. Paul's) and I can't tell you how many times I have eaten there. In fact, after our choir concerts, we would always go to Winsteads and eventually were banned from the Plaza location in large groups because we were so annoying. That makes it even more special. I am at college now out of state and I can't tell you how many times I have woken up with a hangover wishing for a Single with cheese, pickles, and mustard. And a fifty-fifty. And a lime-aid. Oh goodness, I really need some Winsteads now...

Matty'sFood said...

Winstead's has gotten toooo pricey! I LOVE it, but over $7 for a fast-food burger, fries and drink! I live in Blue Springs, and I wouldn't be surprised if the one here closes soon. Nobody in there at lunch time! Too pricey for "fast food." They need to start to remarket some $5 lunch specials as even Culver's has with a similar burger. I love Winsteads, but can't afford for a regular lunch!

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