Bomber Burger - Wichita, Kansas
Although I first heard about Bomber Burger in Wichita, Kansas years ago, the limited hours kept me from trying it out until the summer of 2009. But it was such a treat that I have since been back several more times.
Bomber Burger first opened in 1951, and it has been in the Rickard family since 1985. Chris Rickard, who presently runs it, took over in 1997 following the death of his father, Paul Rickard.
Bomber Burger has a counter with seven stools and four small, two person tables. The tables are round and partially cut away so they can be squeezed closer to the wall. The (original) grill and fryer are 5 feet behind the counter and I took a seat where I could watch the meals being prepared. Other than beverages, the only items on the menu for many years were fresh cut French fries and a variety of large (3/4 pound) Kansas angus beef hamburgers and double burgers. More recently, the menu has slightly expanded and it now includes hot dogs, chicken wings and deep fried mushrooms.
Watching the food preparation, the first thing that I noticed was how often Chris Rickard cleaned his hands. Every time he touched anything other than the food and utensils, he would immediately wash his hands. Often within a minute of the last time. Later in the meal, when Chris and I got to talking, I learned that his constantly washing his hands instead of wearing gloves has been a source of confrontation with state health authorities. He told an interesting story which ended with the state agreeing that he might be right, but that it violated their rules and he was fined $1,000. He paid the $1,000 with 10,000 dimes.
The burgers are grilled slowly (15-20 minutes), so they stay very moist. They are sprinkled with a secret mixture of garlic powder & other spices and, despite being more done then I prefer, are the best cheeseburgers I have had in Wichita. The fries were every bit as good.
The food at Bomber Burger is served with an attitude. I enjoyed Chris' stories so much that the first time I dined there, I was an hour down the road before I realized I forgot to leave a tip. But this isn't a place for everyone. Many will find the language offensive.
During my 2012 visit to Bomber Burger, I was surprised to find the counter lined with men smoking with their beers. Kansas is now no smoking. Fortunately the tiny restaurant is well enough ventilated that I was able to sit at the counter with them and not have the smoke spoil my meal. When I returned again in 2013, the smoking had stopped, but the counter was still full.
Bomber Burger serves iced tea, Pepsi products and Miller beer.
copyright 2009-2015 by Keith Stokes