I haven’t eaten all the hamburgers in Wilmington, North Carolina, but I shan’t dispute Winnie’s Tavern’s claim that it serves the best. It is a thick, rugged half-pounder that oozes juice even when barely pink inside. It comes stuffed inside a lovely fresh sesame-seed bun; and it’s likely a plain one would be dandy.
But why get plain when you can have a Trailer Park Burger piled with a Dixie duet of house-made jalapeno pimento cheese and vigorously peppery fried green tomatoes, plus bacon? Add lettuce, onion, and sweet pickle chips and you have a magnificent package that is just barely pick-upable.
Other highlights from the menu: Carolina Burger topped with chili and slaw; BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger; Station Wagon Burger with sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, and garlic aioli. There even are an Impossible Burger for vegans (all plant protein) and a Black Bean Burger for vegetarians.
Fine French fries on the side; also jalapeno poppers, freshly-made potato chips, onion rings, etc., all of which can be accompanied by sauces that range from Ketchup, BBQ and Ranch to garlic aioli and spicy vinegar.
Off the beaten path just minutes from downtown, Winnie’s maintains well-cultivated dive-bar ambience, but in fact is not really all that divey. Burger prices are $10 and up, staff is hip, and clientele are more white-collar than blue.
Known and loved by locals, Winnie’s is pretty much off the mainstream radar, so I am especially grateful to Wilmingtonian Kathleen Naylon who tipped me off to its goodness.