Wet your Whistle at Mrs. Winkle’s

 mrs-winkles-outside

NOTE: This restaurant is closed.

Dan says…

I have always had trouble pronouncing certain words and the prior name of this establishment was no exception.  Being a WV transplant and not familiar with the restuarant I have always called it Bon-i-cals instead of Bo-win-kles.  So I appreciate the name change to something easier for me, Mrs. Winkle’s.  Now I have to assume the owner is married and not a feminist, because she went with the Mrs. and not the Miss or Ms. title.  I’m glad she didn’t hyphenate, because that would be a mouthful.  “Hey Susan, you want to go ‘fork’ Ms. Manchini-Winkle’s?”

Located in the East-end plaza across from Marty’s Tire, Mrs. Winkles is the only eating establishment (CAMC’s cafe doesn’t count) in the immediate area. It serves lunch and dinner from its corner location.  Inside you can watch your food being prepared at a long deli counter and dine at one of the six tables.  It is a small place.  One might even call it a “hole in the wall”.

The menu is surprisingly large for such a small place.  Hamburgers, hot dogs, BBQ’s and deli sandwiches will meet the needs of just about any lunch patron.  Certain menu items bear a red  “BH”, which stands for Boar’s Head. I like Boar’s Head deli meats so I decided to to try Mrs. W’s Club sandwich. The club set me back about $5.50. I procured an order of crinkle fries for $1.50.  The club comes on a soft sub bun with turkey, ham, bacon, your choice of cheese and pile of fresh toppings. What is special about this sandwich is that its not trying to be special.  It is just a simple sub on a simple bun.  You’re not going to chip a tooth on a crusty bun or be overwhelmed by a tangy, sweet or hot sauce.  This is a good sub.  

mrs-winkles-sandwich

You do get a good portion of fries for your money.  I saw several orders of fries with different toppings.  The chili cheese fries looked sinfully good. I bet they’ll throw some BBQ and slaw on a pile of fries if you wanted.  My hot fries were a crispy golden brown, but there is no joy in Mudville– my fries had an off flavor.  They really tasted like the fryer oil had a little age on it or it got too hot at some point.  I still ate them all.

mrs-winkles-fries

Mrs. Winkle’s has all kinds of fruit drinks and desserts.  During our visit the owner came by and passed out samples of different house made fruit infused lemonades.  There is ice cream and if you’re lucky, imported Gelato.  The Mrs. was sold out of Gelato the day we stopped by but it is the middle of winter.  Normal people eat less ice cream in the winter…not me.

I think people should give Mrs. Winkles a try for a quick lunch.  I think it is a solid THREE forks.

mrs-winkles-burger

Susan says…

We had heard a lot about Mrs. Winkles so I confess that my expectations were a bit high.  They didn’t deflate any hearing the multi-syllabic description of the hot dog “experience” pour out of another customer’s mouth while we were contemplating our orders.

As I have said previously, I prefer a small-calibur weiner and the all-beef hot dogs served here are farily large.  Besides, Stanton has forbade me to ever consume another hot dog with ketchup (four-letter word) in public so I was forced to veer in another direction.  Read the WV Hot Dog Blog’s review of Mrs. Winkle’s here.

I think I let out a little shriek when I saw a fish sandwich on the menu.  I was DEFINITELY ordering the fish.  Um, no. They were out of fish. Damn.  I pressed for more information and learned they were temporarily out of fish and expected more in the future.  A lot of good that does me today.

So I settled for a burger priced at $3.25.  This burger is eerily similar to the frozen Bubba burgers I have chowed down on at WVU Mountaineer tatilgates.  They taste a lot better in Morgantown, especially when consumed in conjuntion with a half dozen beers.  I was unimpressed and disappointed.  If all you can muster is a frozen burger, just don’t put a burger on the menu.  The bun was gigantic which would have been totally awesome if accompanied by a thick, juicy, freshly-pattied hunk of ground beef.  With this thin pre-fab burger, the yummy sesame seed bun vastly overpowered it.

mrs-winkles-rings

The $2.50 homemade onion rings couldn’t even save this lunch for me.  The batter was yummy, but the onions were just too thick for my taste.  I felt like I was biting into the whole onion, like taking a bite out of an apple or something.  I ate all the thin ones and tried to pawn the rest off on my unsuspecting friends.  Dan’s fries were better, even if they arrived at the restaurant in frozen form.

My Diet Coke was priced at $1.65 for the 24 oz styro cup with free refills in the dining room.  Speaking of the dining room, it was clean.  I was mesmerized by the care taken in preparing the other customer’s hot dogs – carefully squeezing an even flow of mustard along the weiner…evenly spooning the chili over every inch.  I even spoke to Mrs. Winkle herself – smiling and friendly.

I am not opposed to coming back, but I won’t get the burger again.  I’ll choose the fish sandwich and fries.   Since they deliver, we might order in on a cold winter day.  For today’s meal, however, I have to say TWO FORKS.  The frozen burger really brings them down.

Misty says…

mrs-winkles-bbq
 If you go to Mrs. Winkles, you have several choices for BBQs.  There was the Carolina style BBQ- which usually has a vinegar based sauce and the Memphis style BBQ- which has a sweeter, tomato based sauce.  You also have the option of beef or pork BBQ.  I ordered the Memphis pulled pork BBQ with slaw.

Since my other co-dinners were ordering the fries and onion rings, I passed on the sides.  Susan and Daniel agreed that I could just “take a bite of theirs” for a tasting.  This was beneficial for me twofold:  1. It was good for my diet plan.  2.  It helps me save money!  After all, I am a frugal (Daniel would say cheap) accountant.

After waiting just a few minutes, my BBQ was brought to the table.  As an advocate of even food distribution (or an OCD obsession), I quickly opened the bun to re-arrange the BBQ and slaw.  My immediate thoughts:

  • The large, sesame seed bun was very soft and steamed.
  • The bun to meat/slaw ratio was off. As I stated above the bun was a good size. However, there wasn’t much BBQ or slaw on the bun. Now, I really don’t like a lot of meat on my sandwiches, but this seemed to barely cover the bottom of the bun. Seems to me that all I was going to taste was bun.
  • The BBQ was finely chopped and so was the slaw.

When I took my first bite, I was pleasantly surprised.  Although the sandwich didn’t have much BBQ or slaw on it, I could actually taste both.  The BBQ was flavorful.  The slaw was not pickle-y, but had a sweet taste. 

But the star of this sandwich for me was the bun- I cannot say enough about this bun.  I usually like my sandwich bread a little toasted- this one was just steamed.  It wasn’t made from scratch, but it was so soft and perfect and stayed that way until my last bite.

I did have a sampling of fries and onion rings.  They were both hot and right out of the fryer.  The fries were good for frozen ones…crispy on the outside; soft and potatoe-y on the inside.  I thought the onion rings were tasty.  They were also crispy on the outside and the onion seemed to melt in my mouth.

I liked my BBQ, but for $3.99, I felt it should have had more meat and slaw on it.  The service was great- THREE Forks!

I would like to go back and try the hot dog or maybe get the BBQ again.

 Click on the menu images to the right for a full-size view.
winkle-menu1winkle-menu-2

Mrs. Winkle’s
1300 Lewis Street
(Plaza East)
Charleston, WV  25301
304-344-5050
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20 responses to “Wet your Whistle at Mrs. Winkle’s

  1. Ugh, I got sick after eating a hot dog there, and while I’m not sure it was related, I haven’t been able to stomach a hot dog since.

  2. I would like to point out that Dan finally admits he is not normal in this post.

  3. well played, Dan.

  4. Wow, I can’t believe that place is still around. I remember when it was new back in the early 70s. All they sold were hotdogs. We used to get hotdogs and ice cream to satisfy the munchies and then go to the movies next door.
    Everything looks pretty good, especially the sandwich. Sandwiches are supposed to have a big generous portion of good quality meat, more than one thin slice of cheese and lots of options for toppings.
    Gotta go check the place out sometime.

  5. Mr. Hillbilly-

    I must warn you: our photography is top-notch. The product you receive may or may not live up to the expectations created by our photos.

    ; -)

  6. Just a quick question, you said you sampled the fruit-infused lemonades, well, how were they? I, for one, think they are delicious; fruity, not too sweet, and big bonuses for adding actual berries. Her gelato is also amazing. If you are planning a second visit, I highly recommend a hot dog. I absolutely cannot get enough of her Cajun Sinsation dogs. The bacon, cheese fries are also wonderful. As for anything else on the menu, I can’t say because I haven’t tried it. I do know my husband likes the Fire Dogs a lot. He orders two every time we go. And, quite frankly, I’m surprised there wasn’t a lot of talk about the hospitality of the owner. She offers the samples to just about anyone who will talk with her about her establishment. I think this is a rare find and applaud the confidence she has in her product. My husband and I often decide to pop in just because we know how nice she is and enjoy talking to her.

  7. Tara,
    They were Ok. I love ice and I bet the strawberry lemonade would be very refreshing over a tall glass of ice, but I only got a sip. I watched her make the regular lemonade while I waited for my food. It was made with Country Time. So I was a little reluctant to try the fruited lemonade. Don’t ask me why.

    The owner wasn’t there when we ordered. She did come in during our meal. Phil who never blogs (hint, hint) had a long converstion with her while she made his sundae. He was sad because she was out of gelato.

    I was a little taken aback by the number of people who walked behind the counter when I was there. I guess everyone is family.

  8. Daniel makes some good points.

    I noticed several people stroll in and head directly behind the counter. Perhaps that type of behavior gives you the down-home, family intimacy you crave in a hot dog joint. Or, conversely, it may give an unprofessional vibe.

    I think Phil only agreed to go to Mrs. Winkle’s that day because of the extensive list of gelato and fruit smoothies on the menu copy we had at the office. When we arrived on location, no gelato could be found and a much shorter list of smoothies were on the menu board. Phil’s fruit dreams were falling flat. Only Mrs. Winkle herself was able to cheer him up a bit. Phil said the fudge was excellent.

  9. “Mrs. Winkles” – sign modified just enough to avoid legal ramnifications.

    I used to work within 100yds of this place when it was Bullwinkles. (or whatever). Blair, you are not alone in getting sick from hotdogs, we had more than a few complaints about food from this joint. However most of the time that I ate here, it was ok. But just an overpriced greasy burger joint at that time.

    When they reoppened, I ate there a couple times, and it did seem that there was more emphasis put on quality, however as the months drug on, I think it has slipped back, and it was once again a better option to drive to Hardee’s and get a not so thick “THICKBURGER” combo for a similiar price with much more food and slightly better quality.

    Just my $0.02.

  10. Wasn’t the original spelled Bowincal’s? It was in Huntington, anyway. Maybe there was no relation since I don’t think there was a Mrs. Bowincal running the old 9th St. location.

  11. Maybe it’s me but the fact that people are walking behind doesn’t bother me and Daniel, the next time you’re there and the gelato is actually available, ask to try the one her grandmother makes. Delicious! Apparently the recipe is top-secret. She’s not even allowed in the room when grandma makes it!!

  12. Jimmy Jr. – you are correct about the spelling, it was Bowincals. Ron can’t spell. Or he may say he did it on purpose for emphasis – that’s a lame excuse he uses to cover up his poor English skills.

  13. Anyone remember the Arcadia?

    I will never vote for McCabe after the con he pulled getting permission to destroy the Arcade with the false assurance he would renovate the Kanawha hotel and needed parking. It should be criminal to allow a building of such architectural and historical importance to be demolished so some rich kid can use his inheritance can play developer, but I digress.)

    I used to love their dogs. He split them down the middle and grilled them in butter. Fantastic.

    Bowincals was pretty good in its day too. The Reuben dogs with kraut and swiss were pretty unique and I liked their English dogs too. Does Mrs. Winkle have those?

  14. Indeed there is a Reuben Dog on the menu. It is made with Boar’s Head meats and is called the W.O.R.D. – Winkle’s Original Reuben Dog. Sells for $2.65.

  15. I LOVE MRS. WINKLE’S I STOP IN THERE ON MY LUNCH BREAKS FOR THE FROZEN FRUIT DRINKS. I LOVE THE GREEN GRAPE LEMONADE. AND THEY ALSO LET YOU MIX YOUR OWN FRUIT. I GET THE WINGS. IM HOOKED ON THE MOMBO SAUCE BUT MY FRIENDS LIKE HER 1-5 CATAGORY SAUCES. AND MY FRIEND DAVE TALKS GOOD ON THE BBQS. I READ THE BLOG ON THE HAMBURGERS AND THINK THAT THEY CHANGED THEM THE DONT LOOK SMALL TO ME THE PEOPLE BEHIND ME HAD THEM AND I SAW THE NOD WHEN THE GENTLEMEN BIT INTO THE BURGER. I ALSO TOOK NOTICE ON HOW HER SYSTEM WAS IMPROVING. GO MRS.WINKLE’S

  16. I LOVE MRS.WINKLES PEOPLE LIKE TO GIVE THEIR ‘SO-CALLED’ COMMENTS AND ARE QUICK TO JUDGE, BUT GIVE THE GIRL ‘PROPS’ SHE’S YOUNG AND IS RUNNING A BUSINESS, WHICH IS HARD TO DO. AND SHE ALSO HAS HELP BY HER WORKERS AND THEY DO WORK HARD.. THE FOOD IS AWESOME..

  17. Mrs. Winkles has closed. Not shocking at all but just thought I would let everyone know.

  18. Pingback: News Nugget – Update on Restaurant Closures « Fork You…

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