Friday, July 15, 2011

Winnie's Tavern, Wilmington, NC

I've heard from some people that I trust, most especially Paul Stephen of Port City Foodies, that this is one of the best burgers in the area so it has been on my short list for quite some time. Today we finally got the opportunity to stop.

Winnie's Tavern is located just south of Wilmington in an industrial area and from the outside it looks like a dive bar. When you get inside you know it is a dive bar. The people are friendly and the bartender acted as if we were long lost friends who'd come over to visit. The people on either side of us were similar. The one fellow next to my wife was talking her ear off like she was a regular.

The menu is very limited, but I knew what I wanted. We both got cheeseburgers, I had bacon on mine. We added grilled onions, lettuce and tomato, all at no extra charge. Now one of the problems with hearing so much good about a place is that you can be in for a serious letdown when you do try it. Not the case here. The burgers came out in about fifteen minutes (this is not fast food) and they looked great. I picked mine up and looked it in the eye, well a burger doesn't have an eye but if it did I would have looked in it, and took a bite. I took a second one right away and I was in agreement with Paul. This is a darn fine burger, one of the best I've ever had and that's saying something. It would have gone real well with a couple of beers, but since I was driving I stuck to iced tea. The fries were okay.

Make sure you bring cash, because that's what they take. You don't have to bring a ton of it though. Two burgers, two iced teas, tax and tip was under sixteen dollars. The guy next to us said he gets a burger and fries along with three beers and with tip he's under twenty bucks. How can you beat that?

No website that I could find, but you can be a facebook friend. One word of caution, they've been getting some good press lately and they may be a bit busy. That's a good thing, we want them to do well. Also, this may not be a place to bring the kids so make it a date night. A cheap date night.

Update- I stopped back for a burger and it was every bit as good as the last one. I also had a nice chat with Dee and I peeked over her shoulder into the kitchen and I saw her secret for making a juicy burger. I won't tell you what it is though, you'll have to go have one there yourself. If you haven't been there yet, what are you waiting for?


  1. Winnie's tavern was recommended to my husband and I. We were told they had the "best burger". I hate to say it, but I was not impressed. Sure the burger was not lacking meat, but the meat was was a very plain, bland and dry.They do not have chili and slaw which is a favorite for me on my burgers. When we walked in there was a couple leaving and 4 people at another table. By no means busy. And it took over 30 minutes for two cheeseburgers with fries and a grilled cheese with fries. And to top it all off, when I was half way through drinking my coke....there was a milky looking film floating on top of the ice. We will not be going back, and I am still very disappointed not to be able to find a great burger joint in Wilmington.

  2. Anonymous,

    I'm sorry you didn't like it. I think it was a case of unmet expectations, and perhaps it wasn't done right that day. Often when a place is hyped up one's expectations are high and they are easily dashed. I've been there a few times and it was always excellent. Winnie's is not a gastropub, it's a bar and as such the food is bar food. Taking that into consideration what you get is a half-pound burger on a fresh bun with cheese and bacon, a side of fries and sweet tea. You'll pay that much at a fast food place and get less and at Winnie's you can enjoy the local color and have a beer.

    Winnie's cooks the burgers on the grill slowly and covers them with a pan to keep the steam in, and to melt the cheese. That takes about twenty minutes (it isn't fast food). Bars are usually not fast anyway, they want you to stay and have a couple of drinks. That said, I stand by my recommendation and say that it is the best burger in town. There are other places where you can spend thirteen dollars and get a crafted burger with all the toppings you could imagine and more ambiance (I like The Eat Spot for that) but considering bang for the buck I'd go with Winnie's.

    The big problem with getting great burger in the Wilmington area is that the health code in New Hanover County requires that a burger be cooked to 155 degrees internal temperature, just a shade below burnt.


  3. Whisky Creek sportsbar have good burgers !