Address: 219 St. Mary’s Rd
Time stands still at Red Top Drive-Inn, where iceberg lettuce, meat-only chili sauce and big, fat, Greek portions have reigned supreme for half a century. At the family-owned and operated diner smiles are genuine and the grub is consistently good. This down home essence has kept diners returning for generations, created the nostalgia imbued cult following that’s secured the spot’s landmark status.
This well-maintained 1960s interior is replete with wood grain formica and red pleather. Retro signage advertises menu staples including famous fried chicken dinners and the lot-o-burger. This take on Winnipeg’s favourite fat boy boasts a cheese crowned house-pressed beef patty smothered in chili sauce topped with lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, onion and a tangy pickle between sweet, supple buns.
In the restaurant business, consistency is key to longevity. Red Top Drive-Inn, along with peers such as Rae & Jerry’s Steak House and Gunn’s Bakery, is a stellar example of a business with the ability to recognize its strengths and the wisdom to resist the temptation of trends.
For example, the signature fried chicken hasn’t changed a lick. Each leg and breast is still battered in seasoned bread crumbs and pressure fried to order. While you wait, sip on a frosty chocolate shake to quell hunger pangs the aromatically charged diner rouses. Deep brown, crispy skinned chicken arrives piping hot. It is notably non greasy, with artfully seasoned skin ensconcing tender, moist meat.
Options for sides include spaghetti with chili sauce and Greek or Caesar salad. Hand cut fries are essential, and what are fries in a Greek joint without a hit of deep, thick gravy? Cabbage ‘slaw offers a gentle yet integral acidic counterpoint to heavy brown foods.
To say servings are substantial is a gross understatement. Old fashioned gravy-smothered dinners, such as tender veal cutlets and quintessentially well-done roast beef sandwiches, are doled out with toast.
Then there is the eat-on-a-dare monster burger, a verifiable 24 oz six patty cheeseburger with all of the fixings. On the lighter side, veggie gyros combine juicy grilled white onion, red and green bell pepper, diced beefsteak tomato and creamy cool tzatziki sauce in pillowy pita.
Red top Drin-Inn is open Mon & Tue 8 am-8 pm; Wed-Fri 8 am-9 pm; Sat 8am-8pm; Sun 9am-2pm