The Burgers of Wisconsin
I promised y'all that many more Wisconsin stops were coming and so here we go. Our first stop of the new 'Sconnie season (expect quite a few thru the fall) is to one of its most well known roadfood joints. Its pretty often you'll see a best burgers in America list includes Solly's Grille in Milwaukee. In a state where the burgers are as good as any (maybe Oklahoma comes close, that's it) this place is much loved, has a cult following and has attracted visitors from all continents where there is life. It is here where the butter burger, a regional burger variation, was born. It was in 1936 and Solly's has been family owned and serving them the same way since then. About the only thing that has changed is the building itself. Solly's moved into its current spot down the street sometime this past decade.
Since 1936 in Milwaukee, WI
Solly's is housed in a building resembling a house and so you walk up to the front porch and enter thru the front door. When you first walk in you will see a bunch of plaques and framed articles on the wall from over the years and get a whiff of the grill and its goodness. When you think of the whole roadfood generation and the term that was created by the Stern's this is a prime example of the definition of it. Although they serve breakfast, which I bet is good and they also do a classical Wisconsin fish fry and since this is a 'Sconnie eating joint they also have real old fashioned malts and homemade pies but despite all this, everyone comes for the butter burgers. Its such a family run type spot that Glenn, the owner, even mans the grill some days. I visited Solly's last year after I suggested it to the others in my group on a day trip to the Milly. We had no idea where it was but stopped and asked a couple of ladies getting into their car in their front yard. When we asked if they knew where Solly's was they looked at each other for a second and laughed and said "yeah" and happily gave us directions there. So its known by all locals.
a tribune article with Glenn (the owner) framed on the walls
View from our seats at the counter
We walked on in after finding the place thanks to the helpful locals and took a seat at the counter which swerves like an M. We obviously knew what we were there for and just needed to decide what else was going with them. We got an order of fries and onion rings. Both were pretty good with the rings being better than the crinkle cut fries. I will order onion rings with my burger on my next visit.
Solly's Onion Rings
Solly's crinkle cut fries
I'm sure you've heard of the butter burger? the one made famous by Culvers but created by Solly's? Its basically a burger with a big slab of butter added on. I remember reading about Solly's on an American Airlines magazine in high school on a flight home from somewhere and saying "I'm going to go there one day" and even though I lived in Madison for four years I never made it here because I could never find it and never remembered to print out driving directions. So what about the butter burgers? well they use the highest quality ground sirloin possible along with real Wisconsin butter and Wisconsin cheese so its truly a Wisconsin treat. Since Solly's is the place where these were born its a must visit in my book. So here is how our visit went.
Solly's Signature Butter Burger
With it being my inaugural visit I had to have a standard Solly's butter burger with cheese and did just that. I got it with everything which is just butter and stewed onions. All burgers are cooked til they're done and arrive to you sliced in half and dripping, almost drowning in butter. I'm not sure if these burgers are old enough to swim or not but if they aren't they're drowning in the pool of butter. If you think you too make butter burgers because you put a little cut of butter on your bun before you put it on the grill or on each side of your uncooked patty...your wrong. You see a butter burger from here, the place that invented them, it has at least 3/4 of a melted sticks worth.
Solly's World Famous Butter Burger from within
One of my buddy's went with a double jalapeno cheese butter burger and he was shocked with what he got. I guess he thought butter burgers were like those at Culver's. We enjoyed quick eats from Culver's now and then back in the day but these were the real thing. I kind of knew what I was in for having been to the Charcoal Inn and all before. When the burger came he gave it a look and thought it looked great upon first glance. He had two all beef patty's, stewed onions, pickled jalapenos and Monterrey jack cheese on a fresh baked bun. All it took was a peek at what what was inside to make him queezy upon learning. I told you so.
Solly's double butter jalapeno cheeseburger
Jalapeno BUTTER burger
I'm not saying I didn't feel anything afterward, I felt a little off, but still I liked the place. My other buddies with me thought the butter was way to excessive but I thought it was one helluva desert and am glad its an hour and some change in minutes up the lake and not anywhere closer to me. I have so many spots to try in my upcoming travels to Wisconsin I'm not sure I'll even make it back but after reading the menu again and seeing they do a patty melt, I just have to try one. I'm a betting man and I'm betting Solly's does a good one. The butter burgers sure are so, as is evidenced by my empty plate of butter that my burger sat on before I put it down in under 3 minutes flat. Expect alot more Wisconsin burgers as the days go by and the trips to Wisconsin increase. See ya next time on S'C&C.
A pool of butter and some fallen onions are all that remain from a butter burger
4629 N. Port Washington Road
Milwaukee, WI 53212-1084