I’ve been to nearly every US state and a dozen countries. After all my travels one thing I know for sure is that you can tell a lot about a city and its people by eating at some of the city’s best restaurants. Chicago and New York each have their own style of pizza, Philly has cheesesteaks, and my college town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin has burgers.
There’s not a single city in the country that has a better burger scene than Milwaukee, and just like other cities with a great food debate, a lot of controversy can be started over the simple question of “who makes the best burger in Milwaukee?” In my 4 years as a Milwaukee resident I’ve sampled all of these places several times, and it’s still hard for me to declare a best burger in Milwaukee winner.
The Best Burger in Milwaukee
Sobelman’s is a family owned restaurant that is now an institution in Milwaukee. They still have their first original location, but have added 2 other locations because of the demand of their amazing burgers. Sobelman’s has been featured on Good Morning American and in The Huffington Post. If you want the real Sobelman’s experience head to their original location on St. Paul Ave., which was one of Milwaukee’s original Schlitz Taverns. Sobelman’s is famous for their burgers, but also for their larger than life Bloody Marys. Check out the hashtag #Sobelmans on instagram and you’ll see thousand of people posing with their unbelievable bloody marys. Trust me, they’re picture worthy.
What to order:
Bloody Mary: everything from tradition $10 Bloodys to the most extravagant $48 Bloody topped with every garnish you can imagine, including a burger. Yes, a bloody mary topped with a burger.
The Sobelman: American, swiss, and cheddar cheeses, with bacon, fried onions, and diced jalapeños. (I’m not a fan of spicy things, so I was scared by the jalapeños at first. Don’t be. The abundance of cheese helps to cool down any spiciness)
Bombers is a classic beer and burger joint. Located on Water street in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, this place always attracts a crowd. The Bombers website describes their restaurant like this: “It’s Rube Goldberg meets Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory. Except Rube is into P-nuts and Willy Wonka is into crazy Cheeseburgers. And both are very happy about it.” What I love most about Bombers is that their burgers are truly unique and out of the box, like the Turkey Burger that comes served on delicious cranberry focaccia bread, or the Barbie Burger that comes with a smear of peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter on a burger. You have my word, it is divine.
What to order:
Poutine: It’s a Canadian favorite that you can’t find many places, Bombers definitly does it justice with their American version.
The Milwaukee Burger: 1/4 lb. burger, WI colby cheese, Nueske’s bacon topped with Schlitz onions. A few years back Travel Channel’s Food Wars came to Milwaukee to find the best burger. The Milwaukee Burger was the winner.
Kopps is iconic in Milwaukee. Known near and far, this fast food joint started as a simple food stand in the 1950’s, and it became so popular that by 1960 they were able to turn into a full blown restaurant. Now Kopps has 3 locations in the Milwaukee Metro area and they’re all hugely successful. Kopps doesn’t just do burgers right, they also make the most divine frozen custard you’ve ever tasted. With flavors like rum & coke and my personal favorite, maple syrup and pancakes, you’ll be happy you stayed for dessert. In college, my roommate and I would regularly reward ourselves with a “Kopps trip” after we finished a big paper or test.
What to order:
Custom burger: any way you want it. My order is always a cheeseburger, with lettuce, tomato, fried onions and bacon.
Custard: get the flavor of the day, or if you’re with a friend splurge and get the sundae of the month! (it’s definitely sized for two people)
Solly’s gives the term “butter burger” a whole new meaning. Their burgers are juicy and tasty and always dripping in butter. Solly’s has been featured on The Food Network, The Travel Channel, The Huffington Post, USA Today, and many more local Wisconsin publications for their delicious burgers. Solly’s is unlike the other most poplar burger joints in Milwaukee because it’s not a bar and grill. It’s more of a diner, complete with homemade pies, and amazing traditionally made shakes and malts. Their most popular burger The Cheesehead is huge! When I read the description on the menu I was certain certain it was way to much, but I did as instructed and ordered it. I only made it through half but man oh man I’m glad I ordered it. Trust me, half of The Cheesehead burger is 5 times better than a whole regular burger.
What to order
The Cheesehead Burger: 2/3 lb. of burger, grilled mushrooms, stewed onions and raw onions, swiss, cheddar and american cheeses