The Cozy Inn in Salina Kansas stinks. Seriously.
And if you’re inside the Cozy Inn for just a minute or two, you’ll stink too.
Yet, people wear that smell like a badge of honor in downtown Salina and for as far the lingering aroma lasts.
It’s been like this since 1922 in Salina when the little six stool burger joint opened on North Seventh Street. Not a thing has changed in all of that time. Not the stools and counter, not the wooden cabinets, not the grill.
And certainly not the way they make burgers.
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Legendary Burger Joint in Kansas
Officially, they are called sliders, but they are just one little ounce of the best Angus beef from cattle grazed nearby in the Kansas Flint Hills. And the ground beef is fresh, never frozen. The Cozy Inn was known for fresh, locally-sourced, farm-to-table ingredients long before it was the trendy, cool thing to do.
What distinguishes Cozy Inn burgers is the onions. They use about 15 tons of onions a year. They are chopped up and fried with the burger patty, thus that strong, greasy aroma that clings to you, your clothes, your hair, your shoes, your purse, your phone. Everything that enters the little building comes out smelling like onions and grease.
And it’s a great smell.
If for some reason you don’t want to spend the next couple of days washing the grease/onion combo from all of your worldly possessions, you can order from the walk up window and eat at a little picnic table outside.
But then, no one who comes within a whiff of you would believe you had experienced a Cozy burger if you don’t smell like one.
A few other things:
All burgers come with onions. It’s not possible to get a burger without onions.
- There’s no cheese.
- And there’s no fries, just chips.
- No fountain drinks, just cans.
- And it’s silly to order just one. Buy them by the sack.
If you’re addicted to fun burger joints with lots of local personality, find your way to this drive-in on the banks of the Mississippi River in Winona, Minnesota.
The Sculpture Walk in Salina, Kansas
After you finish your burger at the Cozy Inn, head over to Santa Fe Drive. This is the main downtown drag where you’ll find a number of other independently-owned restaurants as well as several shops and businesses that also speak to the local entrepreneurial spirit of Salina Kansas.
While strolling along, you’ll notice a fair amount of public art. Salina community leaders started this sculpture walk in 2008 and it has simply grown in popularity. I’ll not say how many sculptures you’ll find, because the number is always growing and the exhibition changes each spring. Stop and enjoy any time of the year.
And then, check out the big children’s mural wrapped around the grain elevator.