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.
Dicken’s Grille & Spirits
9646 W. Greenfield Ave., (414) 258-0888
West Allis has long been known for its down to earth bar scene, which is filled with dive bars, hidden gems and friendly neighborhood watering holes.
Among them is Dicken’s Grille & Spirits, a friendly spot that attracts a loyal band of regulars and curious first-timers who’ve caught wind of popular offerings like Dicken’s Friday night fish fry and Sunday bloody marys. In my case, I was following up on a series of recommendations from readers who’ve suggested I head there for a burger. Since March is Bar Month at OnMilwaukee, the time seemed right.
At Dicken’s, you have a choice of eight signature burgers, from a classic cheeseburger to more creatively topped options like the Caribbean Burger (mojito lime ranch, pineapple, pico de gallo and pepper jack cheese) and the Philly Burger (served on French bread with provolone cheese, sautéed onions and peppers).
I stayed on the more classic side with their Mushroom Swiss burger. It features a one-third pound beef patty (the menu indicates it’s never been frozen), Swiss cheese and sauteed mushrooms on a Kaiser roll; it’s served with coleslaw, fries and –in classic old school fashion – a carrot ($10.45). I upgraded my order to include onion rings.
The carry-out burger was packaged in a recyclable cardboard box with the onion rings and containers of ranch dressing and coleslaw. The burger transported well, arrived hot, and looked pretty darned good.
Pulled from its packaging, I found a relatively attractive burger with plenty of mushrooms, nicely melted cheese and a browned burger patty nosing through the toppings.
The Kaiser roll was soft, with a pleasantly airy texture. It was well sized for the third-pound burger and both sides of the bun were buttered (yum) and toasted until golden, giving the burger an extra dose of richness. The only chink in its armor was a bit of sogginess on the bottom bun, which seemed to have soaked up excess juices from the mushrooms or burger (or both).
On the burger side, the patty was cooked to a solid medium (I’d ordered medium rare with the expectation of medium when I got it home). The patty was uniform in shape and moderately packed, with nice caramelized coloration from the grill on one side, but a more grey hue on the other.
Its texture was firm, but not altogether dry; it held onto a bit of its fat, providing just enough grease to give it a pleasant mouthfeel. Specks of black pepper belied some seasoning, though the flavor of the burger on its own (sans toppings) was relatively bland, without the juicy, beefy pop that makes a great burger shine.
As for the toppings, there was a lot of pressure for them to be good. After all, there were only two components: the cheese and mushrooms. Fortunately, both fared well. The mushrooms were nicely sauteed and generously applied, so their deep earthy flavor made up for the lack of flavor in the burger. The Swiss was nicely melted over the top of the burger and had a solid, nutty flavor.
At just over $10 (with sides that were also well prepared), this burger was more than fairly priced. And while it wasn’t a revelation in terms of flavor, it offered up a solid flavor profile and an attention to detail that made it shine in the world of bar burgers.
Dicken’s Grille serves up a solid old school tavern burger at a fair price.
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.