These are the best burgers in the Milwaukee area. There is no order or ranking as that is far too subjective and will vary from person to person but they have all been personally reviewed and are here because we believe these burgers to be the best in Milwaukee. Over 90 burgers were sampled to bring you this list.

 

Distil

Distil

It’s not too often to be wowed by a burger.  After having more than 100 burgers to find the best in Milwaukee, many are just another burger that fails to make any kind of impression.  See that is what I am looking for, something that is above and beyond all the other burgers out there.  There has to be something that sets the burger apart from all others.  That is why I after going back to some places and reviewing places that were suggested to me by readers, I found the burger at Distil.

As part of the SURG group, Distil like their other restaurants like Carnivor, Mi-Keys, Umami Moto, Graffito, Charro and others offers more upscale (and expensive) dining in the Downtown area of Milwaukee.  Their food tends to be done at a higher level and it should come as no surprise that when they offered a burger on the menu, it would be great although I did have the burger at Mi-Keys, it was good but that’s all.  This isn’t GoodBurgersInMilwaukee.com this is BESTBurgersInMilwaukee.com.

Distil is foremost a place for cocktails that also serves a very small menu but very refined menu.  In fact, everything Distil does is focused on the more refined from the ingredients used in their food to the many liquors, wines and cheeses.  Just in whiskey they have a selection of more than 100 varieties.  They have plates of cheese or charcuterie (variety of meats) and other food offerings that go well with fine wines or upscale cocktails.  As I sat at the bar, it was fascinating watching the bartenders as they crafted each cocktail with a lot of  care and skill.  These are far from whiskey sours and brandy old fashions, they are all made from craft liquors and top ingredients  and are on the pricier side but are part of the experience of an upscale night out.

There is only one burger offered at Distil, the Hidden Creek Farm Burger named for the SURG Group’s farm in New London WI where they raise their own vegetables & cows where they get their beef for their restaurants.  The meat is actually butchered right across the street at Charro by the chef at Distil so the meat is fresh and locally sourced and lately I’m on a high grade quality meat kick as in that is what helps make a great burger.

The Hidden Creek Burger is $11 and it’s description says: “Aged cheddar, boubon onion jam and roasted garlic mayo” which is simple enough but doesn’t even hint at what you are in store for.  The first thing you notice on your first bite into the burger is the incredible amount of flavor in the onions.  Onion jam just doesn’t sound like anything you want on a burger BUT these are the best ‘grilled’ onions you will ever have.  In fact it will kind of ruin it for any other grilled onions you will ever have on a burger again.  That is because most places don’t grill their onions for four days!  In fact, I’m pretty sure no one else does.  They typically start off with 75-100 pounds of onions and slowly let them simmer in butter and Jim Beam bourbon whiskey so they become a deep dark caramelized brown  elixir that is insanely sweet and flavorful.  The roasted garlic mayo just adds to the depth of flavor and make this one of my favorite burgers in Milwaukee.  Lagniappe is still my favorite but this has to be a close second.

The fact that that the meat is so full of juice and flavor too that it becomes a little difficult to eat but will be a burger you remember 9and even fantasize about if you are on a burger quest as I have been.  As awesome as the onions are, I don’t want to short change the beef.  As I’ve said, I’m paying more attention to the beef recently and looking for those burgers that you really can taste the higher quality in the choice of beef they use.  Here the simple four elements combine for a truly outstanding burger.  If you are in Milwaukee from out of town and don’t have much time to make it to some of the suburban locations to try a burger in Milwaukee, try the Hidden  Farms burger. You won’t be disappointed .

Location: North

Dr. Dawg

Dr. Dawg, are you serious?

Yes I am. Dr Dawg despite the name has a seriously great burger.  Dr. Dawg is a Chicago style hot dog-Italian beef-burgers shop  like you find on just about every street in Chicago, there are very few in the Milwaukee area.  Despite the fact that it is Chicago inspired in the middle of Packerland and Cheesehead Central, the food is very good.

As a matter of fact , I used to live in Chicago when I got out of high school and despite having to get used to living on your own in a very fast paced city, I got a job at Dogs ‘R’ Us near Belmont & Broadway near where I lived and I’m very familiar with the menu that is pretty standard for these types of places.  I also learned how a REAL hot dog is supposed to taste (not an Oscar Meyer pork byproduct dog) with a Vienna frank made with beef on a steamed bun and raw onions, mustard, hot peppers, pickle spear,  celery salt, tomatoes and that special neon green relish but never ketchup. NEVER ketchup!  This was new to me since I always put ketchup and mustard on a hot dog but trust me, they are militant about not putting ketchup on a hot dog down there.  There are hot dog shops that will throw you out for asking for ketchup on your hot dog.  I’m serious.

The burgers at these places are usually good but not great by any means, just a frozen patty thrown on the grill, mashed with a spatula, slid off onto a cheap bun and had the usual fixings thrown on top and that was it.  I had to get creative in ways to try to make them for myself when I ate them every day but there was only so much you could do with thin frozen patties and cheap buns.  This however is how most of the Chicago hot dog joints treat their burgers on the menu. But not Dr. Dawg.

Dr. Dawg is owned by a transplanted couple from Chicago who know food.  Although they patterned the sore after the style in Chicago they really focused on improving the quality and taste of the food to be better than what is typical.  The burgers start out from high quality beef from Niman Ranch that is  fed from a strict vegetarian diet with raised in humane standards.  This part is so key in making a great burger.  From there, the meat is mixed in a special blend that the owner perfected based on a blend used by his mom and created by his dad who was a butcher in Chicago that supplied beef to high end restaurants.  The patties are loosely formed by hand and then seared on a griddle to lock the juices in and then char grilled. 

Note- they grill the burgers to a medium well doneness unless you ask first. They will grill it to however you like it but make sure you specify or it will more well done.

There are numerous toppings you can get but you know that when you see Nueske’s bacon as an option that it is not a typical fast food place.  The Dawg’s hot sauce and mayo makes a really good sauce by the way with great flavor and just enough heat.

Don’t pass on the fries by the way.  I have cut back on fries to the point I no longer order them or substitute something else in place of them because after having so many burgers and fries, it started taking it’s toll in added weight I gained but I didn’t pass up the free small order of fries I received during the one year anniversary of Dr. Dawg’s opening.  These reminded me of the fries at Dogs ‘R’ Us that I made myself.  They are fried to a dark brown with coarse salt on top and really full of flavor.  They have a creamy consistency on the inside of the fry and a great dark brown exterior that is far and above the typical blanched white potato French fry you see everywhere.  These are really worth trying.

Here is my burger from my second visit:

Dr. Dawg even serves beer with a surprisingly good beer list:

Location: East, North

Oscar’s Pub & Grill

Oscar’s The Grouch

Ok, ok, I know that I haven’t added any reviews to BBIM for a while but I wanted to get some reader feedback and make sure there weren’t any places that I missed.  Well I did here feedback from some people about Oscar’s burgers.  At first I thought they were talking about Oscar’s Custard & Burgers but then I found out about Oscar’s Bar & Grill.  Oscar’s Burgers & Custard is good, any time you can get a decent burger and real Milwaukee custard is a good thing but Oscar’s Pub burgers are on a whole different level.

First of all, Oscar’s is located in an unlikely spot on 17 & Pierce on the near south side of Milwaukee.  It is primarily an area that used to be industrial but could be the next up & coming area of urban renewal (for any of you budding Donald Trump tycoons). The neighborhood is pretty quite and like many other areas in Milwaukee is in transition as many post industrial cities are.  That is why Oscar’s seems out of place at first since it has a very warm and welcoming vibe to it once you are inside.

The overall feel of the relatively small bar is warm and relaxed.   There is a patio which is always nice in the warmer months that overlooks the Menomonee Valley and a nice spot to enjoy a burger and a beer.  There is even a ping pong table in the back of the bar which is always fun after having several beers with friends.  The staff is friendly and welcoming many times with Oscar himself behind the bar. No, Oscar is not a Grouch but very friendly & welcoming,  I just couldn’t think of another  famous Oscar to use in the headline other than Oscar The Grouch.

Oscar’s heritage is Mexican but he managed to take something as American as the hamburger and do it right.  There are 4 burgers on the menu: the Big O, Big Gringo, Big Foot and the Big Aloha and are all made from premium Black Angus ground beef..  The Big O ($7.25) has chipotle jack cheese, smoked Gouda cheese, thick hickory smoked bacon, fried onions, jalapenos and chorizo Mexican sausage.  The Big Gringo ($6.75) has white cheddar cheese, American cheese and thick sliced Hickory smoked bacon.  The Big Foot ($6.75) has crumbled bleu and Boursin cheese, lettuce & tomato.  The Aloha burger ($6.75) has Havarti cheese, pineapple, avocado and ham.  These prices are very reasonable for ANY burger these days but are a real bargain for an AWESOME burger!

I had the Big O which properly starts off with a nice sturdy roll which is slightly grilled.  Once you cut into the burger you can’t help notice one of the stars of the burger and that is the chorizo sausage.  Chorizo is the Mexican pork sausage that is made with Spanish paprika which gives the sausage its characteristic red color which is apparent immediately once you cut the burger or bite into it as the bun and plate turn bright red with the juice from the beef and the color from the chorizo.  I love new flavors on burgers BUT they must work well and not be different to be different.  The chorizo works because the spices and flavor from the pork sausage complement the excellent beef flavor of the ground Black Angus beef.

The smoked Hickory bacon is also front and center in taste as you first bite in.  In addition to the flavor from the meats, the flavored cheeses, fried onions and jalapenos work together to make the Big O a very enjoyable burger.  Don’t be afraid of the jalapenos since they are full of the jalapenos unique pepper flavor but not it’s characteristic heat.  In fact for those of you that are looking for more heat on your burger will be a little disappointed and may want to ask for peppers with a lot more kick.

I’ve had many orders of fries with the burgers I’ve reviewed (way too many) and most of them are the go-through-the-motions type fries where they are like any other standard bar fries.  These are not your average bar fries hanging around the bar (like bar flies, get it?).  These fries are freshly cut with the skin on which makes them brown up because the starch hasn’t been washed out of them which lets them get the deeper flavor after browning.  They are then sprinkled with a parmesan cheese and served with side of Oscar’s home made guacamole.  The guac is good enough to come down to Oscar’s to  have by itself.  It is chunky and full of flavor and finally someone adds enough cilantro to guacamole. Spot on!  Try dipping the fries in the guac and screw the ketchup!

I have yet to try any of the other Oscar’s burgers, butI will update this as I try the others which I will for sure be doing as Oscar’s may be a new bar, only opening in March of 2011 but they have already made their mark as one of the best burgers in Milwaukee.

Location: North

Palomino Bar

Wild Horses Couldn’t Drag Me Away

Walking into the Palomino is like walking into a funky retro bar from a different time and place. The décor is definitely old school and the numerous drink specials every day make it hard not to find a great beer or adult beverage of choice to accompany the great food at the Palomino. Whether you sit at the bar or one of the cozy booths in the back, the vibe will take you back in time.

Burgers on the other hand have been updated to the latest in beef trends by going with grass fed rather than corn fed beef. There is a definite taste difference and the flavor of the beef really shines. Whether you are a burger purist or one that likes a lot of added elements to your burger, you won’t be disappointed. The beef patties are juicy and very flavorful with a more intense beef flavor than most other burgers.

There is also a good selection of toppings and sauces you can choose from to go on your burger. I had the Haymaker burger ($9.95) which was a 1/3pound burger of grass fed beef, swiss cheese, mushrooms, horseradish sauce, lettuce and tomato. Somehow mine was missing the haystack onions and I didn’t even realize until after I left the bar. The bartender was filling me in on the Blue Pig which she recommended as her burger of choice which is smothered in Blue cheese butter and bacon. She also highly recommends the Velvet Elvis, a sandwich of peanut butter, banana and grilled bacon on white bread, thank you very much..

Update:

I had the Velvet Elvis and it was very unusual but also really good.

Palomino Bar-Velevt Elvis Sandwich

There is a definite Southern and Vegan-Vegetarian influence to the menu including hush puppies, chicken fried steak, bbq, pulled pork, Vegan Gardenburger, Veggie Haymaker, BBQ Seitan Sandwich, Faux Boy, Vegan sloppy Joe and Vegan “Riblet” Sandwich. This may seem anathema to the burger lover but they have us covered as well as a dining partner who does eat meat. They even have Toffalo wings as an appetizer which are a huge hit even with the carnivorous heathen diners.

The burger comes with a huge choice of sides of which you get your choice of two of the following, French fries, cheddar jalapeno poppers, hush puppies, fried okra, tater tots, red beans and rice, jalopeno coleslaw, sweet corn, haystack onion rings, sweet potato casserole, and mashed potatoes with a white gravy I had the jalapeno poppers (2) with a side of ranch sauce and the mashed taters. It is served in a soup cup and is a potato mashed up with white sausage gravy like you find on a chicken fried steak. It was very good and different.

The bartender gets to select the music which was a little hardcore punk/alt but more welcome than the radio I’ve heard a million times. I ‘m tempted to move to Bayview just to have such a cool bar to hang out at night and great food during the day.

Reviewed By: Tom Graber

Palomino Bar

Palomino Bar

Palomino bar

Palomino bar

Pool Tables

Pool Tables

Location: East, South

Bigg’s Roadhouse

“Who’s Your Bigg Daddy?

Bigg’s Roadhouse, located in the shadow of Hwy 45 just south of Mayfair mall, is Roadhouse bar filled with license plates and beer signs on the walls and TVs everywhere you turn so you never miss a play of the game. They have drink specials so often that it would be difficult to be in the bar when there isn’t a drink deal to be had. Every day during the week happy hour is going on from 2-6pm. I stopped by in the early afternoon and was greeted with hello from the bartender and an offer of free potato skins. I like this place already! I’ve been here all of two minutes and already have a great snack.

But I’m not here for the skins, I’m here for the burger. And just my luck, they have a great Bigg Daddy Burger ($9.95), the operative being BIG. This is one big, fat juicy burger. The patty itself is 13 ounces of Black Angus beef, 3 oz short of a full pound! This is supported by a grilled bun and topped however you like with your choice of cheeses, mushrooms, onions, bacon, mustard and ketchup. It is grilled to medium  unless you specify otherwise and leaves plenty of juice to dribble down your arms as you eat.

Bigg's Burger OpenBigg's Burger cross

You have a choice of fries (waffle cut, seasoned), tater tots, homemade potato chips,cottage cheese or a cup of soup. I had the fries which were hot and crispy.

In addition to the Bigg Daddy burger there is a cheeseburger, Baconcheeseburger, Cajun, Mushroomswiss, Blackjack and Turkey burgers. There is also an extensive menu of pizza(1/2 price Tuesday Nights), ribs, steaks, great apps, desserts and other specialty sandwiches.

In addition to their great burgers they have a lot lot of specials and a large variety of choices.  One thing you’ve GOT to try if you’re a rib fan is theirall-you-can-eat ribs (and chicken) on Wednesdays for $14.95.  First of all AYCE ribs is a great deal for $15 but when they are as good as Biggs its a fantastic deal.  I love ribs and live near Famous Dave’s and have enjoyed their BBQ there and their ribs are good but are not nearly as tender and fall of the bone as these are and the sauce is awesome too.  Haven’t tried the chicken yet but I have tried their fish fry.  Go with the cod over the walleye,  both are good but the cod is slightly better and AYCE.

I haven’t tried anything else at Biggs but I have read a number of reviews at Yelp or Urban Spoon that they have a fantastic steaks and for much less than a steakhouse.  Maybe not the same ambiance as Mo’s but very high quality.

Reviewed By Tom Graber

Biggs Roadhouse Website

1900 N. Mayfair Rd

Wauwatosa WI 53226

414-256-9000

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Location: Suburbs, West

Elsa’s

Elsa's

“A Perfect Burger Is A Culinary Masterpiece”-Karl R. Kopp

Elsa Kopp, the pioneering woman who started one of Milwaukee’s first custard stands that later became a staple to Milwaukeeans like fish fry’s, is paid tribute by her son Karl Kopp who runs the 3 Kopps custard restaurants in the area, by naming his upscale bar and restaurant after her.

Located on Jefferson St across from Cathedral Square, it is a social spot to go after Jazz in the Park or Bastille Days is over or any other day for that matter just to have a cocktail and watch the people that come in. You can see anyone from minor local celebrities to professional sports celebrities to people dressed to the nines before going to the theater or a show to someone in cargo shorts and a t-shirt and everything imaginable in between.

The menu is mostly sandwiches and divided between burgers, pork chop sandwiches (try Pork Chop Variation 2) and others too. The burgers all start out with ground sirloin and are served on a very good Italian roll and are served with waffle cut fries and fruits and vegetables that are in season. From there you have your choice of toppings that are paired together and named accordingly.

You can choose from some of the best burgers in Milwaukee right here, Burger Au Poivre (pepper crusted in burgundy sauce), Au Poive Variation with the addition of Gorgonzola and bacon, Burger Las Brisas (Monteray Jack, avocado, jalapeno, lettuce, onions and a little salsa), Greek Maiden (marinated in white wine, topped with Feta cheese, black olives, fresh mint and onions), Daisy Mae (thin sliced turnip, radish and cucumber marinated in a fresh lemon dressing) and Burger Alfredo (tomato slices, fresh spinach and a sauce of Parmesian cheese, butter and spices.

Elsa's Open

Extras include; avacado, different cheeses and dressings, mushrooms, pecans, tomato ($1.50 each), bacon and turkey are a pricier $3.50. This gives you plenty of options to find a burger that sounds good to you or customize one to your tastes.

I’ve had the Burger Au Poive and the Greek Maiden burgers. Both are very good but the Maiden had a little more flavor with the Feta cheese and olives. My only complaint is that the burger patty was on the small and dry side, there was no juice from the meat at all. The pairing of the toppings do work together to add good flavor to each burger.

Elsa's cross section

Reviewed By: Tom Graber

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Location: Downtown

Skippy’s

Skippy's in Thiensville Burger

One thing that is great about doing this website is that everyone I talk to has an opinion about who has the best burgers in Milwaukee and for the most part of tried most of them at least the ones that are on most people’s list but every once in a while I’ll bump into someone who is a raving fan about a burger that somehow escaped my list of places to visit.  I was at a function downtown and met these guys who worked in Thiensville and swore their favorite bar had the best burgers in the area.  All right, I put them on the list although I was a little skeptical since I never saw their name on a list.  Well, I was wrong to be skeptical; Skippy’s has a fantastic burger!

Even after months and months of trying different burgers and AFTER I already tried the Skippy burger, a very good friend said “Hey, you should go to Thiensville, just behind the old fire station is a place called Skippy’s that has THE BEST burgers”. I thanked him for the late tip but I already decided to put them on the site.

Skippy’s is located across the street from the Milwaukee River and it has a small creek in the back of it.  It is a Wisconsin landmark that was built in 1853 and was originally a hotel.  Today it is just a corner bar that has great bar specials ($2.50 drinks Mon-Thurs 3-6), great food and a great burger.

The burgers (there are 11 options) but the Skippy Burger is the one that is most popular.  There isn’t even that much special in it’s appearance, it looks like a lot of others but it’s a different story when you bite into the burger.  It has so much great flavor much do to the “secret sauce” which is a little like Thousand Island but not as thick and more flavorful.

Skippy’s

113 Green Bay Rd.

Thiensville WI

262-512-1240

skippyssportspub.com

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Location: North, Suburbs

Matty’s

UPDATE : Matty’s Bar in New Berlin always had great burgers but now they are really bringing it with a new burger called the Smokehouse.  Located in New Berlin on 144th & College, Matty’s is quickly becoming a go-to spot for watching sports, Friday Fish Fry and now their new burger.  All of their food is very good and the place has a good feel to just hang out & drink and be with friends you haven’t met yet.  But I think the Smokehouse burger will put Matty’s on the map in the local burger war of who has the best burgers in the Milwaukee area.

The Smokehouse gets it name from the smoked beef brisket that is ground and added to the Certifed Black Angus beef to make the distinctive patties.  The brisket starts out as a raw brisket of beef that is hand rubbed in special seasoning then smoked for 3 hours in Matty’s smoker that is filled with a special blend of hard wood chips and then ground and mixed with the Black Angus beef.

The burger can be ordered how you like it as a Build Your Burger where you pick from different options  or as the Smokehouse Burger of the day from a schedule that is similar to Kopp’s Flavor of the day.  Each day a different burger is featured that is crafted by Matty’s kitchen to bring together some very good taste options all with different names like The Hot Cowboy, The Hangover, The Mona Lisa and The Milwaukee.

I have had two Smokehouse burgers so far, the New Berlin and the Al Pacino.  They were both very good with good choices for topping selections.  The New Berlin is topped with the smoked beef brisket that the burger itself is made of, mushrooms, sliced onions, provolone cheese, garlic mayo, shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes on a brioche bun.

The sliced brisket on top was a great choice.  It offered smoky flavor of very good brisket as well as the infused flavor from the brisket in the patty.  The garlic mayo added to the flavor as well and the brioche bun was sturdy enough to hold everything together.

The Al Pacino was piled with salami, pepperoni, garlic herb tomato basil, fried onions, shredded lettuce, garlic mayo and tomato garlic relish on a gourmet bun.  The addition of the salami and pepperoni really worked.  It gave it a decidedly Italian flavor made it a very meaty burger.

The Smokehouse patty gives a great platform to build on and Matty’s has done a great job with giving you a large number of toppings including a number of different cheese toppings.  Besides the usual; cheddar, American, pepper jack, mozzarella, provolone, baby swiss and blue cheese Matty’s offer specialty cheeses from small cheese producers from around Wisconsin.  There is Evalon, an asiago made from goat’s milk from Sheboygan,  a gruyere style cow’s milk Swiss from Dodgeville, Mango Fire, a sweet and hot cheddar made with cow’s milk from Kiel, Saxony, an award winning firm nutty flavored alpine style cow’ milk cheese from Cleveland, Dolcina, another award winner made from a combo of goat and cow’s milk is a sweet, creamy gorgonzola, Black Peppercorn Cheddar, a cow’s milk white cheddar  from Kiel and Benedictine, a earthy creamy chease made from a combination sheep, cow and goats milk from Kiel.

Toppings also include many options like garlic aioli, sun dried tomato mayo, mango salsa, black bean corn relish, blue cheese butter, pesto, guacamole, sauerkraut, sun dried tomatoes, portabella mushroom, pico di Gallo as well as more.  You can build your own burger to your liking and even enter a contest coming up in December to build build your best burger and enter it into Matty’s Taste Off contest.  The winner will get a permanent burger on the menu and free burgers for a year (as well as bragging rights).

Reviewed By Tom Graber

Matty’s Bar

14460 W. College Ave.

New Berlin WI 53151

414-427-3838

Location: South, Suburbs

Sobelman’s/Tallgrass

Milwaukee’s Best Burger?

That is the question that was to be settled on The Travel Channel’s Food Wars in 2010 when Sobelman’s went head to head with AJ Bombers in a Cheeseburger Challenge.  It pitted Dave Sobelman against Joe Sorge of AJ Bombers.  Unfortunately the way the contest was structured, they each had to come up with their own version of a cheeseburger for the contest but not the ones featured at their bars.  This still left it up to debate “Who has the best burger in Milwaukee”?

There really is only one way to find out-try them out for yourself.  Now, unfortunately for Dave, the 3 judges found in favor of Joe’s version of a cheeseburger but Dave didn’t miss a beat-he was out the next day with The Loser Burger in honor of the cheeseburger that lost as well came out with a free Loser t-shirt to the first 1000 people who came in the next day.  There is still a raging debate with rabid fans on both sides but the only way to settle it is trying both.  I’d give the edge to Sobelman’s.

In August of 2011, Dave opened a third location on 16th & Wells which is in addition to Tallgrass  at 1952 N. Farwell which features natural grass fed beef (see below) .  This is a great location and open later at night to satisfy the munchies of students after bar time much like Suburpia was back in the day.  But now instaed of subs, it will be a Sobelman’s burger everyone craves at bartime.

The Sobelman burger starts with a great country butter roll which a is key start to a great burger.  It then has a 1/3 pound fresh Black Angus patty topped with tree kinds of cheese, American, Swiss and Cheddar. It then gets topped with grilled onions and sliced jalapenos.  Don’t worry, these are pretty tame for jalapenos and aren’t very hot.  You can always get a few more added and some hot sauce on the side if you do like more heat.  This is definitely a CHEESEburger as you will see as you bite into it and the three cheeses are all melting over the patty(s).

I say patty(s) because at Sobelman’s, you can add as many patties as you want to create an ever increasing big burger until you have one that Adam Richman from Man Versus Food on the Travel Channel may have second thoughts about.  When Dave first started out on the edge of Miller Valley, there were a lot of construction workers that would come in to Sobelman’s for lunch and after work.   Dave had to have a way of satisfying some very large appetites and that is how the Big SOB was born.

Sobelman’s is also known for their Bloody Mary’s which come topped with their own salad bar and a good sized beer chaser.

You can even watch your burger being made on the Burger Cam.  There is a live feed to a monitor in the main dining area that shows the burgers on the grill upstairs.  On Saturdays the grill is pretty much covered in burgers all day long.

Sobelman's Burger Cam

With Sobelman’s being on 19th and St.Paul Ave, it is easy to get to from the freeway but if you are on the East Side and want to have a Sobelman’s burger, you are in luck because there is Tallgrass, Dave’s other burger shop on Farwell Ave on Milwaukee’s East Side. They have the same burger at Tallgrass, but it is made of grass fed beef which gives the meat a slightly different but good flavor.  The ingredients are all fresh and made to be healthier than your average cheeseburger.

Tallgrass Fresco Burger

You can get a Fresco Burger that has chipotle Jack cheese, avocado, tomato and raw onion and if you ask the they can make the same burger with a black bean patty on top of the grass fed beef patty and topped with jalapenos for a more Mexican accented healthy burger.

If you live on the East Side, you can even have your burgers delivered right to your door by Tallgrass’ delivery service!  That is convenient especially when parking on the East Side can be tricky at peak times.

If you live on the East Side, you can even have your burgers delivered right to your door by Tallgrass’ delivery service!  That is convenient especially when parking on the East Side can be tricky at peak times.

Sobelman’s

Reviewed By: Tom Graber

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Location: Downtown

Solly’s

You’re Just Trying To Butter Me Up

If there is a hamburger institution in Milwaukee in it is Solly’s in Whitefish Bay. Located on Port Washington Road, it has been part of this town since 1936 and has a fanatical following of butter burger lovers. And when I say butter burgers I mean BUTTER burgers! These are not for the faint of heart or those on calorie restricted diets. These are the old fashioned burgers who get their flavor from custom ground sirloin (delivered daily), fried onions and butter. This is a burgerfor the purists who don’t like a big stack of extras. No fried eggs here buddy, you want eggs go to George Webb’s. We serve HAMBURGERS. No avacado, no blue cheese, no sauce, no jalapenos, or ciabatta bread. To paraphrase the Blues Brothers, “Son, we serve BOTH kinds of toppings, onions and butter”.

And whatever you do, don’t pass up the milkshake like I did the first time I went to Solly’s. When I told my brother in law I was at Solly’s he said to me “aren’t those the greatest shakes you ever had?” and was incredulous when I said I just had the burger, fries and a water. Doh!! I had to go back again and see what I was missing. It was worth the return trip just for the shake. It was thick, rich and very choclatey!

Solly’s has made it to numerous best burgers lists and wereon the front of USA Today several years ago as one of the ten best burgers in the whole country and were included in George Motz’s 2008 book Hamburger America which includes his DVD by the same name which features Glenn Fieber the owner of Solly’s and how butter bugers are made. They have been a favorite here in the Milwaukee area for over 70 years and end upon on many people’s favorites list.

The Cheesehead is a much larger burger than a butter burger and features two large patties each made by pressing two regular patties together. This gives the burger 12 ounces of meat which was a little bit too much, one large patty would do which is available on the Super Burger. The key however is the soft, chewy bakery bun that makes this my bun of choice for a burger at Solly’s. Order a burger each way, with the usual bun and also the  roll. It took me a few visits to discover this but the roll makes it better in my opinion.

These burgers are for the burger lover who loves the combination of meat, onions and butter, Solly’s does NOT skimp on the butter! You can always order them easy butter if you enjoy a good burger but are concerned about all the extra calories but most people like Solly’s because they make butter burgers the old fashioned way,with plenty of pure Wisconsin butter.

Solly’s has a very loyal following of customers who love getting their butter burger fix. Many famous famous people have eaten there over the years and some seats are marked where they sat. Last time I was there I sat in the seat Bob Uecker sat in and a Milwaukee TV anchorman sat next to me as I took some of these photos.

Reviewed By: Tom Graber

Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations visits Milwaukee and Solly’s for a Midwest America edisode. Here’s a sneak peak where Tony talk’s about Solly’s Butter Burgers:

http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Anthony_Bourdain/Video/Wisconsins_Buttery_Burger

Location: North

Lagniappe

Lagniappe Burger

A Little Something Extra

Lagniappe might be the most difficult to pronounce name on the best burger list, but it did have one of my personal favorite burgers on the list. Lagniappe (lan-YAP) is a Cajun-French-Louisiana term for merchants in southern Louisiana who add “a little something” to your purchase as a small gift for making your purchase in their store or shop. Or restaurant in this case.

Lagniappe is very much an upscale restaurant located on the border of New Berlin and Brookfield on Greenfield Ave in the small, intimate building that used to house Steven Wade’s café. It is still an upscale restaurant that serves Continental cuisine, that being cuisine from different countries from around the world and what better item to have on your menu representing American cuisine but the American Hamburger. And Lagniappe perfects this creation in their Kobe Burger with 9 year old Cheddar cheese. If you want to experience as close to a “perfect burger” as you’ll find, this is it.

The Perfect Cheeseburger

The Perfect Cheeseburger- True Foodie Porn

This is food porn at its finest. If you want a picture of a perfect cheese burger, this is it. No tower of toppings, no wilted lettuce, no special sauce, no secret ingredients or gimmicks to make this burger better. It stands on its own by the taste of the beef and cheese. Burger perfection. The Kobe patty is actually the American version of Kobe beef, Wagyu.

Kobe beef has strict guidelines to be called Kobe beef. It is from Tajima cows raised, fed and slaughtered in the Prefecture (state) of Hyogo Japan. It is fed a diet of special grain feed, a beer a day, and a rubdown with warn sake every day. I’m sure PETA would still think it is somehow cruel but it is pretty much the ultimate lifestyle in the bovine world.

Wagyu is the American version of Kobe beef since true Kobe beef is from those cows in the small region of Japan. America being one of the beef capitals of the world has our own version of Kobe known as Wagyu by breeding The Japanese Kobe cow with the American Angus for an animal that can thrive in our climate but tastes close to it’s Japanese cousin. Wagyu comes from the Japanese wa (Japanese) gyu (cow), Japanese Cow. They too are fed a special diet of alfalfa, barley, corn and wheat straw and a beer a day and then massaged with sake.

The result is fantastic tasting beef.

Since this is the simplest form of the cheeseburger at it’s purist, it needs to rely on all three of it’s simple components, the patty, cheese and bun. The bun itself is homemade and is big and sturdy enough for the job of supporting the large patty yet soft and yielding like a good bun should be. The patty itself is a perfectly formed patty that looks dry when it arrives with just the melted cheese oozing down it’s sides. When you bite into it however, there seems to be an invisible crust that kept all of the juices in because you are immediately met with juices running freely from the meat down your hands and arms and then on your plate.

Cheese Made While Clinton Was In Office

Cheese Made While Clinton Was In Office

The patty has wonderful beef flavor an the meat is almost granular in its consistency and it is so moist and juicy that it needs nothing else for flavor except the cheese. In this case the cheese is 9 year old cheddar which adds a great tang you can clearly taste which adds depth to the cheese flavor that ordinary cheddar just can’t touch. Nine year old cheddar is hard to find in a dairy case much less a restaurant but here it helps make one of the best cheeseburgers in Milwaukee. The cheese on my burger was made while Bill Clinton was still in office!

Served along with the burger are home made gaufrette potato chips which is a fancy way of saying waffle cut chips. I was tryinhg to remember what they taste like and couldn’t figure it out until it hit me, Muncho’s potato chips. They taste like a fancy looking Muncho potato chip. You also have your choice of caponata salad, cole slaw or cottage cheese.

This is a small, intimate restaurant (great romantic choice for Valentine’s day or other romantic occasion) that you want to wear something appropriate for and isn’t the typical sports bar type place to go for a cheeseburger but is worth the trip and definitely the $11 price tag for this perfect cheeseburger.

I’m ready for my beer and the sake massage now.

Reviewed By: Tom Graber

Location: Suburbs, West

Everything Is Just Jake

First before I get to Jake’s fantastic burger I need to update readers about my reviews here. After Jake’s Burger made it to the cover of Milwaukee Magazine’s cover of their burger review in August of 2012. There is a reason I took time off from my burger quest and that’s because sampling over 100 of the area’s burger’s took it’s toll on my.  I gained over 25 pounds in the pursuit of the best burgers in the Milwaukee area.  I spent all of 2012 focused on losing the 25 ponds I gained.  Well, I not only lost the 25 but another 45 pounds on top of that for a total of 65 pounds for the year which feels great. Unfortunately that meant no burgers (or fries, or much of anything unhealthy) for a while and even no alcohol (ok, for a while but I do still have a couple beers or so again on weekends, I’m not crazy). Bottom line is I’m back in a size 34 jeans and want to stay there but I will still sample burgers once more!

A year is a long time to go without a burger but the reward is finding a new burger joint and a new burger to write about.  The burgers are the main attraction at Jake’s and are available without buns and are called “rafts” served open faced and meant to be eaten with a knife and fork. I liked the description for several burgers but I was mainlytry to decide between a Jake’s Burger and the California Raft Burger.  The Jake’s Burger had cheddar cheese, oven roasted tomato, butter lettuce, haystack onions and a special sauce.  The California Raft Burger had butter lettuce, oven roasted tomato, avocado, special sauce & Neuske’s bacon.  When my server asked how I was doing and I told her of my dilemma, she suggested I try one as a $1.50 slider special. What a great idea!  I ordered the Jake’s Burger with the California as a slider.

The burger patties themselves are made in house from a combination of ground sirloin and brisket.  The meat had good flavor and texture.  The shoestrings were nice and crisp and were nice and crispy as they should be.  There are several options for sides which are extra: house cut fries ($1.95 & $3.75), crispy sweet potato fries ($1.95 & $3.95),  creamy cole slaw ($2.95) and haystack onions ($3.95).  I opted for no sides since I had the haystack onions on the burger and I don’t want to go in the other direction and add on any weight to what I lost.

There are other toppings you can add:

Port-Caramelized Onions $1.5

Nueskes Applewood Bacon (2 Slices) $2.5

Fried Egg $1

Haystack Onions $1.5

Beer Cheese Sauce $1.5

Brie Cheese $2

White Truffle Oil $1.5

Wisconsin Blue Cheese $1.5

Wisconsin Aged Cheddar Cheese $1.5

Avocado Half $1.5

In hindsight I would have opted for the Nueske’s bacon as you can’t go wrong there. All of the toppings for their burgers are available to add and customize as you see fit.

There is a bar with both cocktails and a surprisingly good beer selection.

Jakes Burgers is closed Sunday & Monday.

Location: Suburbs, West