Winstead’s: Kansas City Burger Parlor Bathed in Green Neon

Restaurant Kansas City

I had already eaten two four-meat combo platters at Kansas City barbecue establishments, but I couldn’t resist Winstead’s late night lure. This Kansas City fixture is known for its hamburgers. Gastronomic luminaries like Kansas City native Calvin Trillin and my friend John Schulian, who has a framed menu on his kitchen wall, lauded Winstead’s burgers. Nighttime is the right time to visit Winstead’s to see the classic diner aglow with green neon.

According to Winstead’s website, Katherine Winstead founded a similar restaurant by the same name in 1936, in Springfield, Illinois. A proponent of culinary Manifest Destiny, she gradually migrated west, first to Sedalia, Missouri, and then to Kansas City, settling in 1940 on a location near Country Club Plaza with sister Nelle and brother-in-law Gordon Montgomery. Building on the original location’s enduring popularity, the Haddad Restaurant Group now owns and operates ten Winstead’s locations in Missouri and Kansas.

Restaurant Kansas City
A green neon tower rests atop Winstead’s entrance, serving as a veritable burger beacon.

Restaurant Kansas City
The interior is just as interesting, with more green neon and massive pink neon discs to light the way.

Restaurant Kansas City
There’s even an old time counter.

Hamburger Kansas City
Since I was still stuffed with barbecue, I had no choice but to limit myself to a single Winstead ($2.15), topped with pickles, ketchup, mustard, and my only tweak – grilled onions. I’ve eaten better, more substantial burgers, but the thin pattie still had its crispy charms.

Soda Kansas City
Refreshing carbonated limeade ($1.45) came topped with lime sherbet and half of a Maraschino cherry.

I debated about whether to include Winstead’s on Food GPS. The burger was pretty good, and the limeade was awesome. Finally, Winstead’s won me over with its classic setting. For once, I couldn’t help but relent on my food-first approach to dining.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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