Since January 2017, I’ve been hiking the Burger Trail, eating my way through the riches of our city's ever-growing burger scene. Along the way, I’ve tried over 90 burgers from bars, restaurants and drive-ins throughout the Milwaukee metro area and beyond.
In celebration of bar month, I thought I’d share a sampling of the fruits of my labor. Here, in reverse order, are the top 15 bar burgers (based on overall scores).
On the list you’ll find a variety of styles, from diner-style smash burgers to half-pounders and over-the-top beasts. But they all have one thing in common. They’re delicious.
15. Mainstream Bar & Grill
404 W. Main St., Waukesha, (262) 544-6222
Mainstream’s burger is big, bold and well worth the drive to Waukesha. Be sure to try the crisp housemade potato chips (and dip) while you’re there. Read the full review.
14. Swingin’ Door Exchange
219 E. Michigan St., (414) 276-8150
I’m giving this burger a nice big nod. I’d eat it again, and you probably should, too. If you need to feel slightly more virtuous in your decision, order the spicy vermouth carrots (also good) on the side instead of fries. Read the full review.
338 S. 1st St., (414) 271-7546
The patty on the California burger was robust and meaty and the toppings reflect the freshness of West Coast cuisine. As bar burgers go, O'Lydia's serves up a solid. Read the full review.
12. Oak Barrel Public House
1033 N. Old World 3rd St., (414) 897-8320
If you like a good messy, cheesy burger, you can't go wrong with the Wisco Burger. Read the full review.
11. Matty’s Bar in New Berlin
14460 College Ave., New Berlin, (414) 427-3838
Although it had its flaws, Matty's Bleu Burger was only a few tweaks from being among the best I've had yet on the Burger Trail. Read the full review.
10. Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub
1203 N. 10th St., (414) 276-7271
If you're craving the flavors of spring, it's time for a Gorgie Burger. Read the full review
9. Jo Mama’s Bar & Grill
4600 County Line Q, Colgate, (262) 628-9211
Not a burger for the faint-hearted, nor the lactose intolerant, the Joe Mama burger is a celebration of excess at its finest. Read the full review.
434 S 2nd St., (414) 800-5641
The half-pound patty was perfectly cooked, juicy and loosely packed… and the toppings well executed. If you haven’t been to Camino, consider this your invitation to try it out. Read the full review.
7. Jack’s American Pub
1323 E. Brady St., (414) 763-2830
The Black & Bleu burger at Jack's American Pub is a nicely balanced burger with toppings that play well together. Read the full review.
6. Oscar’s Winner’s Circle
3800 W. Burnham St., (414) 249-5701
If you like the burgers from Oscar's on Pierce, you'll likely find another happy place at Oscar's Winner's Circle. Read the full review.
5. Oscar’s on Pierce
1712 W. Pierce St., (414) 810-1820
If you haven't yet tried a burger from Oscar’s, you’d be remiss not to put it on your list. And if you have, well, you know what I’m talking about. While I can’t guarantee mariachi on your next visit, I can assure you there’s a great burger waiting for you. Read the full review.
4. Stubby’s Gastrogrub
2060 N. Humboldt Blvd., (414) 763-6324
Stubby's isn't a diner, but their Double Diner Smash Burgers are a Wisconsin classic in the making. Read the full review.
3. Cloud Red
4488 N. Oakland Ave., (414) 231-9660
Not only is it beautiful, this char-broiled burger sports a spunky take on the usual burger sauce. If you love a good half-pounder, you should definitely put the Ney’s Big Sky Burger at Cloud Red on your list to try. Read the full review.
2491 S. Superior St., (414) 747-1007
The brisket burger at Palomino is a great example of a classic diner-style burger that's been elevated with the use of exceptionally high quality ingredients. It's a must try. Read the full review.
1. Good City Brewing
2108 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 539-4173
It’s good looking, perfectly cooked and the toppings are well appointed. In the end: Good City makes a really great burger. Read the full review.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.