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The Burgers of Wisconsin

The Burgers of Wisconsin
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  • Post #271 - July 3rd, 2017, 11:41 am
    Post #271 - July 3rd, 2017, 11:41 am Post #271 - July 3rd, 2017, 11:41 am
    Up in northern WI for the holiday bumming around the Antigo area (there are apparently some hugely impressive fireworks put on in Burnamwood that we plan to check out) and on the way up my fiance and I swung through both Bud Willman's lunch and Joe Rouer's.

    Bud Willman's was hands down the best burger I've ever had. I agree with Ronnie that the double is really the way to go - otherwise the patty is just too thin, the bun is too thick, and the meat is too easily overcooked. The double is just right in terms of ratio of ingredients. Just incredibly good.

    That being said Joe Rouer's was my favorite spot of the trip so far. The single burger was a great snack, and I saw people ordering them by the tray-full. If we hadn't already eaten and didn't have to keep driving, I could spend a good number of hours here. The buyers are still really, really excellent and might be my favorite if I didn't just top at Bud's. Everyone is incredibly friendly, all the food seems quite solid in addition to the legendary burgers (apparently now over 4 million sold!), and the drinks are dirt cheap - Ketel and sodas were $3.50 and brandy old fashioneds were $4 with a garnish including olive, cherry, and a pickled mushroom.

    Honestly, they are only about an hour a part from each other, so I'll probably always hit both whenever in the area.
  • Post #272 - July 14th, 2017, 5:38 pm
    Post #272 - July 14th, 2017, 5:38 pm Post #272 - July 14th, 2017, 5:38 pm
    An interesting article appearing in 'On Milwaukee' about Kroll's East. ... -east.html
    I first went there in 1960 when on the way to Door county and continued until Kroll's West opened and was easier to get to on the way to and fro to Crivitz, Langlade and beyond.
    I never knew the two were different establishments.
    So a side by side day trip comparison is on order probably the day of the Packer Shareholder meeting, July 24.
    But for my money Mihm's in Menasha is better and has just about as long a lineage, decending from the mighty Rudy's of the 1960's. Mihm's changed the steak sandwich along the way from a classic perforated piece of beef to a chopped burger but, the charcoal, hard roll and butter are all there.-Richard
  • Post #273 - August 7th, 2017, 1:05 pm
    Post #273 - August 7th, 2017, 1:05 pm Post #273 - August 7th, 2017, 1:05 pm
    Here's a quartet from a trip up the lake last summer. Those paying heavy attention to the style of burger found up and down Lake Michigan (starting in Sheboygan and extending to the WI/MI border) will recognize that style within these next four stops. All of them using fresh patty's of locally butchered beef that are char grilled before being placed on a well buttered hard roll. I'm not sure this regional style has a name so I guess we will call them Sheboygan style burgers. Here's four more in order, from Chicago.

    Image Manitowoc, WI

    Our first stop was a place long on my list. I know Late's has been mentioned on this thread and elsewhere as being as good as if not better than Bud Willman's (also in Manitowoc). I cant find an exact date on Late's but I did find mentions going back to the 60's. As you can see the outside is pretty dilapidated and the inside is no different. Aside from the burgers the curds are also known to be wonderful. Were they? Sure. Most fresh fried cheese curds are.

    ImageCheese Curds

    The burger however was pretty uninspiring for this style. It was smaller than most and because of that it's basically a requirement to get a double in order to balance the meat to bun ratio. I feel like Late's has seen better days.

    ImageCheeseburger from Late's

    Moving North the next stop was the best stop of those featured in this post. Basil's II is a classic Wisconsin tavern that's pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Doesn't matter where you are in Wisconsin there's always a bar nearby.

    ImageDenmark, WI

    Basil's II has been established since 1984 however the bar burned down in 1993 so they had to do a full rebuild. The original owners sold the business to their sons. The sons last name is Kroll so you have to believe that there's some connection to Kroll's in Green Bay. Especially when you see how they do the burgers which is over a live grill just like Kroll's.

    ImageCheeseburger from Basil's II

    I didn't get a chance to ask where Basil's gets their buns from but these were as crunchy as the Cuban bread is down in Miami. They worked perfectly on this double cheeseburger which was full of fresh juicy char grilled beef and oozing with cheese. Most other buns would've succumbed to the sloppiness.

    ImageThe insides

    Basil's also does a brat burger and they do so in the traditional Sheboygan way. These are made with a brat patty instead of a split sausage link. So it looks like a burger but taste like a brat. Another fine example of this regional style. Standard toppings include mustard, onion, pickles, butter, and ketchup should you need it. No thanks for me.

    ImageBrat Burger at Basil's II

    The next stop takes us outside of Green Bay to a popular place for Packers fans to talk about last weeks game, or if it's summer, the upcoming season. It's also popular with outdoors men in the area for hunting, fishing, snowmobiling etc.

    ImageDe Pere, WI

    As you can see from the sign the chili is popular at Drift Inn. It's been served the same way since 1978 though the bar itself goes back to the 50's. Of course I had to try a bowl and unless you want to expose yourself as not local you need to order it with everything which means spaghetti on the bottom. Even though I wouldn't serve it like this at home I for one am not offended by spaghetti in chili and can happily enjoy a Midwest blend now and then. I liked this bowl.

    ImageHouse Chili at Drift Inn

    Aside from the house chili it's also the burgers that keep customers coming back. Fresh patty's of locally butchered beef are delivered fresh daily. They go over a charcoal grill and if you order the namesake burger you get both a beef patty and a brat patty. A Wisconsin style combo so to say.

    ImageThe Drift Inn Burger

    These too are popular in and around this area as there's been previous places mentioned that serve a Wisconsin style combo. I like these bad boys but prefer one or the other or better yet one of each served separately. Good food and a fun atmosphere make this a place I'd get back to next time I'm around.

    ImageThe insides

    Final stop of this round-up takes us to a gas station in Green Bay.

    ImageGreen Bay, WI

    Hill Top Cafe is a pretty nonchalant type place sitting to the side in a BP. I was surprised by how many locals were dining in. Must be a popular place with them. Easy to understand why when your burger comes out. Nothing about this was a standout but everything in it from fresh beef to the locally made bun was above average. In terms of size it was one of the bigger ones as far as circumference goes. Much better than most gas station options when it comes to burgers. Pretty much what you'd expect from a place in a great burger state.

    ImageCheeseburger from Hill Top Cafe

    1924 S 9th St
    Manitowoc, WI 54220
    (920) 682-1539

    Basil's II
    5595 S County Highway P
    Denmark, WI 54208
    (920) 863-8454

    Drift Inn
    1535 South Ashland Ave
    De Pere, WI 54115
    (920) 336-5929

    Hilltop Cafe
    2278 Bay Settlement Rd
    Green Bay, WI 54311
    (920) 884-0858
  • Post #274 - August 9th, 2017, 7:19 am
    Post #274 - August 9th, 2017, 7:19 am Post #274 - August 9th, 2017, 7:19 am
    Thanks for the reviews.
    I don't know how the 'style' of these burgers started nor the history but there is a 'style' which I don't think can just be termed 'Sheboygan' because of the places around Green Bay.
    I do know in the 1960's there was Kroll's East and Rudy's in Menasha, each serving a charcoal grilled, crusty bun with butter. Kroll's was primarily burgers while Rudy served a 'Minute Steak' as the primary offereing with burgers and brats on the side. Rudy would grill the brats and keep them warm in a little pot with liquid. Of course if the fishing was good, Rudy's was closed.
    As an update the Packer Shareholder meeting was on a Monday so no Mihm's as they are closed on Mondays.
    Kroll's west had their lots blocked off to prevent Shareholders from parking but we had ordered by phone, so we got fries and two burgers and took them to the wayside on I43.
    The fries looked like and tasted like they were from the day before and warmed in a microwave! The burgers were a little better but not a lot of butter or much to distinguish them.
    I can not recommend Kroll's West at this time.
    In conversation with a volunteer information lady at the Shareholders Meeting who has lived all her life in Ashwaubenon where part of Lambeau Field is actually located, Kroll's East is the place to go.
    As an aside, I purchased some thin sliced dry aged ribeye from Joseph's, got some crusty buns, sautéed them in butter, charcoal grilled the ribeye's, had mine with sliced raw sweet onion, generous pat of butter and mustard.
    A fitting homage to The Burgers of Wisconsin!-Richard
  • Post #275 - August 9th, 2017, 10:51 am
    Post #275 - August 9th, 2017, 10:51 am Post #275 - August 9th, 2017, 10:51 am
    Map is updated with the last 2 Da Beef posts: ... sp=sharing
  • Post #276 - August 14th, 2017, 3:49 pm
    Post #276 - August 14th, 2017, 3:49 pm Post #276 - August 14th, 2017, 3:49 pm
    Just got back from a week in Hayward and the burgers/food at Blackiron were outstanding. Cheese curds, sliders (meatball and Italian beef) and 2 different burgers were put back on Wed night and we all agreed a return trip was needed before heading home. Well, we walked into their Friday fish fry - also excellent, light & crispy beer breading with juicy Alaskan cod and house made sauces. Hand cut skinny fries done just right.

    Nice craft beer selection on tap (they had Moon Man, 'nuf said). The proprietors are south siders and the chef comes out of the Gibson's chain. Hands down the best grub we had all week.