Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Humdinger: Stand in line to get in, baby

Posted By on Thu, May 16, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Kansas Citys 9th Street has changed in a half-century, but the Humdinger hasnt.
  • Kansas City's Ninth Street has changed in a half-century, but the Humdinger hasn't.

This hot afternoon called for a cold milkshake. Not one of those bland boring (and probably chemical-laden) shakes at one of the conglomerate fast-food restaurants, but something a little more eccentric. Maybe a pineapple milkshake or a pina colada version. The 51-year-old Humdinger Drive-In at 2504 East Ninth Street (it's between Olive and Prospect) serves those flavors every day, along with banana, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and bubble gum.

At noon today, it was standing-room-only inside one of the last drive-in restaurants left in Kansas City's urban core (Harold's Drive-Inn at 1337 Admiral Boulevard, dating back to 1958, is the other); neither has a drive-through window. You park, get out of your car, go inside and order at the counter.

The line was long enough at the Humdinger that I had plenty of time to peruse what may be the very longest drive-in menu in the city.

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There are 14 different kinds of burgers at the Humdinger, including the kiddy burger, the jumbo burger, the double cheeseburger, the triple cheeseburger, the taco burger, the chili burger, and the pizza burger. There are fried-shrimp dinners, taco salads, burritos, spicy chicken wings, and tacos. You want vegetables? The Humdinger serves fried corn nuggets, fries, tots, mushrooms, cauliflower and okra ... and pickles!

The menu also features Italian steaks, Reuben sandwiches, fried-fish dinners, a full array of breakfast sandwickes, Philly cheesesteaks and a BLT. Since 1962, the Humdinger has been strictly a cash-only operation, but there is now an ATM near the arcade games.

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