Monday, September 10, 2012

Green Bay Burger Stops

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Wisconsin

Today we travel with the Bears head north up the lake into Green Bay. I took my 2nd visit to titletown last year but this time was my first time actually enjoying it. Certain outcomes from events on my previous visit made it suck. Puck the Fack, when it comes to Wisco, professional football is about the only thing I don't like. But I still got a lil' love for Green Bay, well their burgers anyway. Taking in a game at Lambeau is a must do sporting experience. First stop of the day was in downtown Green Bay at an old time place called Al's Hamburger Shop.

Green Bay, WI

*Note: Al's is back open after the fire that closed it down for a while

Proving how fast these type of roadfood spots that I like to take in are dissaperaing, Al's had a fire last year. I'm not sure of it's fate these days. I was told about Al's on my first trip to Green Bay when a local told me it's the best 'locals type' spot they got. I never made it there but always remembered it due to the simple name and then I became even more intrigued when I saw how little there was on it on the 'net. A few reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor praise the place for its old time "nothings changed" feel while others trash it for being a "dirty smoky grease pit". Sounds like my type of place and upon entry I knew it was.

As we enter...the small grill is to the right in full view from the window outside

A small counter with stools and a few tables for sitdown make Al's at maximum capacity when 30 people are inside. The wonderful young lady working the grill was also taking orders and I went with the classic cheeseburger and also an order of their famous corned beef hash. As we waited while the young grill lady cooked up our burgers and hash I couldn't help but get a total kick out of a plane made from a PBR can hanging from the ceiling (seen in pic above). It flew around in circles with its propeller rotating as the exhaust system blew air by it. Very funny and part of the old school charm of the place, you know nothings changed, except that one stool a little higher and different than the rest in the picture above.

Like it's always been. Those Rolaids came in handy...

The hash was the first order up, theres only so much room on the grill. This was indeed the real deal. I prefer mine to be ground down and crispy all around, much like I love my burgers. Al's had a deli slicer for their corned beef in back which was in use for the next days supply. It might look like it's from a can but this was an excellent homemade hash. You can see in the up close shot there were small shreds of real corned beef everywhere. This stuff was awesome.

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Corned Beef Hash breakfast from Al's

The burger was everything I was expecting. Ordered with grilled onions which are smashed into the fresh ball of beef and topped with brown mustard and pickles this was one of the best burgers I'd had in state. The bun was phenomenal. So light and fluffy. Al's cheeseburgers when I was lucky enough to visit are exactly how I love mine to be. The perfect example of an old school diner where the cheeseburgers are and always have been popular for breakfast. I hope they make it back.

Cheeseburger from Al's

So as it turns out I'm actually a big fan of a Green Bay landmark, just not Lambeau Field and the team that plays its home games there. Al's burgers and corned beef hash were both top notch and even better was two cheeseburgers and two orders of hash with eggs and toast was under $17. What a steal, almost as big as Aaron Rodgers at pick #24. Doh!.

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Since 1934 for a reason...

Next stop of the day is also a local institution in Green Bay. The Kroll's name has been associated with burgers in the area since 1936 when Harry Kroll opened his joint. If Kroll's sounds familiar that's because theres one in Chicago that opened up in the South Loop a while back and also another one on the West side of Green Bay right by Lambeau Field. The east side location is the original and aside from family name I believe is in no way associated with the others. Nowadays it's still the same tavern/take out that always will remain a real locals favorite, you know the drill by now, visited by generations of families etc...

Green Bay, WI

Kroll's uses the popular regional style of real charcoal grilling. They have a take out window as well as a tavern where you can enjoy their signature burgers with a drink and all sorts of other goodies like fried app's, fried chicken and perch, brats, hot dogs, steak sandwiches along with an assortment of others. They also offer their popular homemade soups and chili. As soon as you leave your car in the parking lot you are greeted by a pleasant aroma in the air from the chimney expelling the smoke.

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Kroll's is a very cool place to visit

The Real Charcoal Grill at Kroll's

The grill is located in the take out section and on full display for people taking orders to go. Even though there were quite a few younger ladies working as waitresses it was an old timer, I'm guessing family member working the grill. She was happy to show me everything once she realized I was taking pictures and explained they toast the semel hard rolls in the drawers to the left of the grill. All their burgers are made fresh on premises and char grilled over hot coals until done. Each "mouth watering" sandwich comes topped with real Wisconsin butter and is served on a toasted hard roll. Everything includes sharp American cheese, catsup, brown mustard, raw onions and pickles. I got mine with everything but ketchup.

Kroll's cheeseburger right out of the wrapper

They slice the burgers in half and give you extra napkins because butter and juices from the beef will slide down your arm as you eat one. You have to eat these burgers like you do when eating an Italian beef, standing up leaning over wherever they rest. I thought these were another classic example of why Wisconsin is indeed a big time burger state. Next time I would go double but at $3.05 this was everything I could want it to be. The toasted semel roll made it crunchy on the outside while on the inside awaited a warm mixture of beef, butter and cheese with the All American toppings putting it all together. In the end, Kroll's is another local landmark I cant wait to get back too. Next time I'm going to have to sit at the bar and have a few brews and burgers and get my own episode of 'This American Life'.

The insides

Al's Hamburger Shop
131 South Washington Street
Green Bay, WI 54301-4210
(920) 437-5114

Kroll's East
1658 Main Street
Green Bay, WI 54302-2629
(920) 468-4422

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