Bloomington, IN: Hinkle's Hamburgers

When most people think about Bloomington restaurant staples, they (rightfully) think of places like Mother Bear's, Little Zagreb's, and the Irish Lion. But there are a lot of restaurants in Bloomington (at least 200 in this town of 40,000 residents + 40,000 college students, 100 of them in downtown alone), and not all of them are close to campus. My boss actually grew up in Bloomington and has spent most of his life here, and he knows all kinds of awesome places to eat. One of his favorites is Hinkle's Hamburgers.

Hinkle's is one of those places that sticks with you after you leave. Literally sticks with you. The grease permeates through the air and settles into your clothes, so much so that someone who walks into the IT office afterward can actually tell the whole group went to Hinkle's for lunch. None of us would have it any other way. (Everyone in the IT gang has become reliant on going to Hinkle's for things like birthdays and initiation. We've been 3 times as a group in the last 5 months, when most people bring their lunches...and we work at a gym.)

Hinkle's feels like it's from a different time period. Probably because it is. The family owned and operated business has been around since the 1930s and has the loyal fanbase, newsclips on the wall, and fantastic red counter and walls to prove it. The menu is displayed marquee-style on the wall, and if you peek over to the sign on the left, you'll see the specials. Everything is inexpensive already, though, so don't limit yourself to just the specials.

Everything is made to order. The person making the burger you're about to eat is right there behind the stove. The fryer where the fries are made is in front of him, and when there's a big line the person working that will call out to see who all got fries so she can make sure to put enough in the basket so no one's kept waiting too long. There is another person at the cashier, and he seems to have all the tax calculations memorized so he can tell you your exact total without referencing the calculator.

The furnishings are chairs and tables, conducive to conversation but it keeps the restaurant population small. In the summer when we were here, there was a line out the door waiting to order, while the people inside finished up at their tables. People are Midwestern nice here; the larger tables are traded for the smaller two/three seaters when someone notices that a larger party has come in and needs more space.

The burgers are fresh and good and fast. They are literally made to order, delicious and oh-so-greasy. I got the Double Combo special yesterday, a double hamburger with fries and a drink. I got the burger Deluxe, which means lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and also grilled onions, which really ups the ante (and reminds me a little of In-and-Out). The fries are good too, thicker and more potato-y than a lot of places make them, and they are good at carrying ketchup to your mouth.

Hinkle's is not really convenient unless you live on the west side of town or go to Studio 2Ten (which happens to be where I go...yes, I have gotten Hinkle's while waiting for a hair appointment). A long, long time ago they were located closer to campus, but I don't know why they moved (they'd make an absolute killing if they had a location near campus). But it is absolutely worth the drive. Find it at 206 S. Adams St., and check out what other people are saying about it, too. (PS. They also seem to be really active on social media, which is fun to see from a local restaurant.)

Do you have a favorite hidden/unknown restaurant? Or have you ever been to Hinkle's? I already want to go back but, well, I'm really trying to eat better. Those burgers are so good though. I'm sure we'll be back in a month or two for a birthday...
Bloomington, IN: Hinkle's Hamburgers Bloomington, IN: Hinkle's Hamburgers Reviewed by Maria on 3:00:00 PM Rating: 5


  1. I think I just gained five pounds looking at that burger. I love little joints like this and will definitely try to stop next time C and I are passing through! (His family lives in the Mitchell/Bedford area, so we go down to visit every once in a while!)

    1. Ahh get down here! We have a lovely lighthouse-themed guest room for you to stay in ... not kidding. We will go to Hinkle's and then, uh, go for a run. Haha.


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