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.
3129 N. Bremen St., (414) 810-3941
2394 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 544-2774
When I think of Cafe Corazon, I think of enchiladas, tacos and wet burritos. I think of well executed vegan dishes. And my brain relaxes a bit as it envisions the charming Riverwest restaurant with its cozy red-smattered digs, kitschy table cloths and cozy interior. If I linger upon the thought, my mind fills with memories of select summer days on the patio, margaritas in hand, spending time with friends.
One thing I generally don’t think of is burgers. Nonetheless, when it came to my attention that at least two of the locations have a burger on the menu (the exception being the newest location at the Mequon Public Market), I thought it was high time to give one a try.
The Corazon Burger features a half-pound Redeker Farms beef patty with Verns sharp cheddar cheese, jalapeños, cilantro, lettuce and tomato on a toasted telera roll. Served with guest’s choice of chips and salsa or rice and beans (black or pinto), $10.
The burger was impressive in its size, thinner than most half-pound burgers and shaped to fit the large telera roll, which probably measured six inches across its width. From the side you could glimpse the nicely browned burger, still glistening with fat and topped with bright green shreds of lettuce, a glimpse of melted cheese and pieces of ruby red diced tomato. Its colorful presence was right at home sitting atop the bright red tablecloth with hints of blue, green, white, yellow and peach.
There are few other buns more appropriate for a burger served at a Mexican restaurant than a telera roll, the soft flat buns most often used as the foundation for tortas. In this case, the bun was a good match for the substantial burger. It was beautifully toasted, giving the soft, pliable interior a notable crunch, and the crisp exterior crust was flaky and perfect.
As I mentioned, the burger patty was substantial. The half-pound of beef was hand-pattied, a fact evidenced by some irregularities in its shape. It had been nicely caramelized on the grill and likely allowed to cook in its own fat, as its texture was tender and far from dry.
The burger could have inched close to the "10" mark had it not been slightly overcooked (my mid-rare order came out well past medium) and somewhat lacking in seasoning. The meat itself was plenty beefy without any off flavors; but it could have used a bit of salt to really underscore its meatiness and pull forth some additional umami.
Likewise, the toppings on the burger were of high quality. The lettuce was fresh and brilliantly green, and despite being shredded finely, it retained its crispness through most of my meal. Bits of cilantro offered up their fresh, citrus-like flavor, slices of fresh jalapeno offered a fresh, peppery note (and only a slight bit of heat) and the tender tomato (though apt to fall out of the burger, since it was diced) was beautifully ripe, a summer tomato at its finest.
The cheese played side fiddle to all the fresh flavors. It had been shredded and was melted nicely atop the patty; but it wasn’t well distributed enough to offer its flavor to every bite.
Despite enjoying the garden-like nature of the burger, I did wonder if it would have benefited from a splash of sauce or maybe a pop of acid. Next time I might ask for a bit of salsa to perk it up a bit.
It’s worth noting that, during brunch hours, the burger makes an appearance as the Fiesta Burger and boasts the addition of a fried egg and bacon. Thanks to the richness of the egg yolk and the salty smokiness of the bacon, I could definitely envision that rendition of the burger being a prize worth pursuing.
The quality of the ingredients on this burger is a big part of what makes it worth every penny; but its size alone could easily function as another argument in its favor. It also came with a substantial side of rice and beans (which there was no way I was equipped to finish after enjoying the burger).
If you’re looking for a simple, fresh take on the average half-pound burger, you’ll find it at Cafe Corazon.
Cafe Corazon’s hours vary from location to location. The original Riverwest restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 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.