In this series, we’ll be hiking the burger trail to find the latest, greatest and most delicious burgers in Milwaukee. Click here for an explanation of the criteria used to rate each burger. Where have we been? Check out the complete catalog of burger reviews here.
Stubby’s Gastrogrub & Beer Bar
2060 N. Humboldt Blvd.
Sometimes you just want great bar fare in a friendly, convivial environment. And that’s pretty much what you get at Stubby’s Gastrogrub & Beer Bar, a spot that comes complete with an impressive craft beer list and a beautiful view of the Milwaukee River. It’s a great hang during the summer months, when you can while away an afternoon the spacious patio, but it’s also a cozy, bright spot for a Sunday Funday or evening out during the winter months.
The menu at Stubby’s is filled with indulgent bar fare like fried cheese curds, cheddar beer mac and cheese, and a reuben made with house pulled corned beef. But they’ve also got a collection of burgers, including a Beyond Burger and a black bean burger.
There's also the Stubby’s Burger, a half-pound burger topped with cheddar cheese, Stubby’s candied bacon, pulled barbecue pork, onion straws, lettuce, tomato and pickles.
But sometimes simplicity is really all you’re looking for. And you’ll find that in the Double Diner Smash Burgers, featuring two flat-top griddled beef patties, diced onion, house pickle and cheddar on a Sheboygan hard roll ($11.95). They’re served up with Stubby’s housemade chips, but you can also get tots, standard fries or sweet potato fries as your side.
Note: The diner burgers are currently running as a special at Stubby’s, but I have it on good word that they’ll be adding the burgers to the regular menu moving forward.
While the diner burgers don’t possess the drama of the Stubby’s burger, they’ve got an old school charm that’s tough to ignore. It all begins with that unmistakable Sheboygan roll out from under which spills a swath of cheese, a cascade of chopped onions and a glistening beef patty. And it’s a sad, sad world if you can’t find at least a modicum of joy in those twirly skewered pickle garnishes.
You can’t truly go old school without a solid, yeasty bun. And that’s just what you get. These rolls are fairly well-sized, maybe a bit bready for a single patty but not excessively. The bun was well-toasted, so you got the texture of nicely crisped edges, and the interior of the bun was nice and pliable, making the burger easy to handle.
When someone says smash burger, I can immediately envision what they mean. It’s a thin patty with just the right amount of greasiness, deliciously crisp edges and a fair amount of seasoning. And yes, this is that burger.
Sit down with these guys and you’ll get sheer simplicity of well melted cheese, the bite and crunch of fresh onion and the crisp tang of a good old classic dill slice. Paired with the burger’s greasy bits, you can almost close your eyes and imagine you’re somewhere else entirely.
It is the sort of burger that you’ll want to augment with a condiment or two – maybe a whorl of ketchup and a drizzle of mustard, or maybe a spread of mayo. That’s your choice.
Two burgers for less than $12? Yeah, that’s a deal. Both burgers are pretty substantial, so you could actually share with a friend (which leaves the added bonus of adding on an order of deep fried cheese curds… they’re good here too). It’s a solid price for a solidly simple burger.
Stubby’s isn’t a diner, but their Double Diner Smash Burgers are a Wisconsin classic in the making.
Stubby’s Gastrogrub and Beer Bar is open Tuesday from and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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.