The Burgers of Wisconsin
Where end July where we ended June. In the great burger state of Wisconsin. 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 and char grilling their product before placing it on 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.
Our first stop was a place long on my list. I know Late's has been mentioned as being as good as if not better than Bud Willman's (also in Manitowoc). So this had me interested. I cant find an exact date on Late's but I did find mentions going back to the 60's. As you can see it's pretty dilapidated and the inside is no different. Aside from the burgers the curds are also known to be wonderful. Good? Sure. Most fresh fried cheese curds are.
Cheese Curds from Late's
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.
Cheeseburger from Late's
Moving North the next stop was the best stop of those featured in this post.Here we have 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. And also good burgers.
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.
Cheeseburger 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 down in Miami. They worked perfectly on this double which was full of fresh juicy char grilled beef and oozing with cheese. Most other buns would've succumbed to the sloppiness.
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.
Brat Burger from Basil's II
The next stop takes us outside of Green Bay for a popular place for Packers fans to talk about last weeks game. It's also popular with outdoors men in the area for hunting, fishing, snowmobiling etc.
De 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.
House Chili from 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.
The Drift Inn Burger
These too are popular in and around this area as there's been previous places mentioned that also serve them. 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.
Final stop of this round-up takes us to a gas station in Green Bay.
Green 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.
Cheeseburger from Hill Top Cafe
1924 S 9th St
Manitowoc, WI 54220
5595 S County Highway P
Denmark, WI 54208
1535 South Ashland Ave
De Pere, WI 54115
2278 Bay Settlement Rd
Green Bay, WI 54311