DALLAS, Texas – This week we’re in big D at a staple of this town simply known as Wingfield’s. Since 1986, this small shack on the south side of Dallas has been busting out burgers that satisfy the hungriest of appetites.
Tony Woods co-owns this establishment situated in Oak Cliff.
“When you have a business in this type of community you have to been seen as a part of the community, someone who is going to give back,” Tony told us.
Richard Wingfield started his burger joint as a side gig to his regular job over 30 years ago.
“It’s not that I would call it a bad neighborhood. It’s a bad neighborhood with opportunity.”
“I can say things to certain kids in the community and it will make a difference, and to me that’s as important as anything I’ve ever done in my life.” Mr. Wingfield said. “I was extremely passionate about education.”
Originally from Hooks, Texas, this former biology teacher went from the books to burgers but he’s still inspired many along the way, including Tony.
“I was a legend, I’m not bragging, at W T White High School, because I was,” Mr. Wingfield said. “I don’t want to say I was naive, but I’m going to have to use that term because I don’t know a better term. I actually believed that I was going to make all of the difference in the lives of the kids that I had in my class.”
Tony can attest to this.
“I had the opportunity to get to know Mr. Wingfield on a different level, on more of a personal level,” Tony said. “And the impact that he made then was a product of his caring. He actually cared about what we was doing.”
On a whim, Mr. Wingfield decided to start dissecting burgers instead of bugs and has created a burger that has been broken down to some very specific steps.
“It’s all about being a pleaser,” Mr. Wingfield said. “And I guess once I recognized my purpose was to make a difference, and being a Christian church boy, I had one other thing that was on me all the time and in my spirit in every moment of my life of my life. And that was this; failure as a Christian was not an option. You just keep doing it and doing it, and doing it until you get it right.”
Richard’s faith helps him put things into a certain perspective, and serves as motivation to treat everyone with respect and kindness.
“When it came to my customers my attitude was I didn’t know who was coming through the door,” Mr. Wingfield said. “It might have been Him. So I say I have to serve the same burger to the guy pushing the grocery cart selling tin cans as I did the mayor. And that was my whole mentality the whole time.”
That passionate persistence to fulfill his higher calling has paid off.
“Believe it or not, top 100 restaurants in Dallas,” Mr. Wingfield beamed. “Would you believe we made it? I was stunned and shocked. Top 100.”
While the burgers here are known for being big, the seating area not so much. But that hasn’t stopped customers from coming up with some creative solutions.
“Most people who come into our restaurant take it to go, but on a Saturday if you come in here you’ll see pickup trucks backed up here,” Tony said. “Guys let down the tailgate and eat it right there. Some guys bring their own picnic tables and they set up shop right there, and they have them. Just wherever you can put down a napkin and put the burger down there, that’s where you eat it. ”
Keeping that in mind we decided to head on into the kitchen and get started on the bacon cheeseburger.
The carefully calculated assembly of this burger starts with a beautiful 429 bun, before a patty is meticulously placed on the grill.
“I’m very particular about how you handle my patty. That’s my patty,” Mr. Wingfield said. “Hey, I like a little bit of seasoning there. Instead of flipping my patty over I want to press my seasoning into the patty.”
Next mayo, onion, and cheese find their way to the bun.
“I’m going to put a hot piece of meat on top of that cheese,” Mr. Wingfield informed us. “It will met into the onions. So that’s the strategy there.”
Then exactly six or seven pickles and two slice of tomato slide into position as bacon is put into the fryer before hitting the flattop. The completed bun is now placed back on the grill. Once the patty is placed, we are done, and it’s time to find a spot and eat.
It is just beautiful. A big ole burger just weighted down with bacon, meat, cheese, you name it.
After one bit of this meaty treat it was like I could see things in a new light, and the locals agree.
“Once you try it you’ll be hooked. You’ll be coming in and out again and again and again, because it’s so good,” Wingfield regular Clarence told us.
When you feature so many burgers with so many interesting ingredients, and you come across a burger that’s just a burger that tastes this good, that says something.
“I think it’s simply a good, Texas, homemade burger,” Mr. Wingfiled said.
So when asking yourself the reason to come to Wingfield’s is it A) the burger B) the atmosphere or C) getting the chance to meet Mr. Wingfield, it’s D) all the above.
“It’s going to be a beautiful burger,” Tony said. “It’s going to be a delicious burger. It’s going to be something that you’re going to remember, also.”
Well we’ve dissected a lot of burgers, and this one passes the test. Well worth a stop on The Texas Bucket List.
“If they want to know how it tastes when a human being really loves doing what they’re doing and wants to share, they need to come by and see and I’ll set the standards for any burger they’ll have for the rest of their life,” Mr. Wingfield said.