Locals only (and a few lucky ones)

Stars: 4.5/5

1895 Burnett Blvd, Wilmington, NC 28401

(910) 762-1799

Entrée Prices: $5.00-$10.00; CASH ONLY

Reservations: No; Seat yourself; first come, first served

Noise: Conversation Friendly

Other: Additional Seating Outside

Far enough from downtown Wilmington to barely be considered the outskirts of the city stands erect Winnie’s Tavern—home of the Port City’s best burger.

Located around a bend off Burnett Blvd. in what feels like the middle of nowhere, a beer cap-embedded, gravel parking lot welcomes customers to a white, oblong building, displaying a hand-painted “WINNIE’S TAVERN” peeling off a baby blue sign nailed directly to the infrastructure’s exterior. Walking through the joint’s front door instantly reveals one’s good decision making when it comes to choosing a place for a beer and a burger: at the bar, two men wearing untucked, flannel button-downs, mud-stained jeans, mud-covered boots, and way past five o’clock shadows stopped their sipping of 12 oz. Budweisers to stab glances in the direction of the sunlight creeping in and the pale burger-seeker that trotted in with it; over to the right in one of the booths, a middle-aged couple were chomping on their burgers with a vigor that can only be described as fierce and joyous (they glanced once or twice, but refrained from the stares that scream, who are you, and what are you doing in my bar?); the bar tender made eye contact, motioning with a friendly wave and a smile to have a seat at the bar or anywhere you’d like—I had finally reached a small piece of paradise: a seasoned pinch of old Wilmington wrapped up in the aura of thirsty shipyard hands and hungry local mouths.

There’s no beer on draft at Winnie’s, and that’s just fine with me. A small beer list containing the typical domestic and import options, along with a handful of NC-brewed selections provided ample drinking choices (there are soft drinks, sweet tea and a small selection of liquor drinks available as well). The menu is small, and that’s also fine with me. There are two different burger options: the original Winnie Burger, which weighs in at a half pound, and the Mini Winnie, weighing in at one fourth of a pound; both burgers come with the customer’s choice of toppings, as well as choice of French fries, sweet potato fries, or onion rings. Aside from burgers, the menu offers a BLT, club sandwich, grilled cheese, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, fried shrimp, and chicken tenders.

I ordered a jalapeño, bacon-cheese Winnie Burger with everything (lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, ketchup, and mustard), fries, and a Fat Tire to wash it all down. When my meal was delivered, it surprised me: its size was daunting; there was no way a human could eat all of this food—accepting defeat and enjoying the meal was the only way to continue. The first bite was just as good as the last—the charred juiciness of the perfectly cooked, medium pinkness grabbed my entire being and I was lifted to a place only I, and the select few this burger has been consumed, by know. The fries burst of that natural potato flavor only a perfectly crispy, golden-brown outside, and cloud-like, white inside can provide. The beer was a perfect temperature and remained that way. Brothers and sisters, I finished the meal in its entirety.