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.
6969 N. Port Washington Rd.
It was a blustery afternoon when I drove up to Glendale to check out the burger at Dr. Dawg. And if any of you are giving me sidelong glances for expecting a Chicago-style hot dog joint to serve up a great burger, you’d be even more surprised by how many people recommended the burger as a must-try.
I don’t blame those who scoff. After all, Dr. Dawg is a fast-casual joint located in an ordinary strip mall that’s also home to a Stone Creek Coffee, Samurai restaurant and Pick ‘n Save.
Like most other restaurants of the genre, it offers counter service in a no frills atmosphere that’s decked out in a color scheme that includes black booths, wooden tables, red seated chairs and red walls with an open kitchen behind the ordering counter. On our visit, the dining area was filled with a mix of folks from single guys chowing down on dogs to families stopping by for a quick lunch.
Burgers, available in one-third and two-third pound (double burger) options are build-your own, with the majority of toppings available for no charge, including lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo, ketchup, mustard and dill pickles. Nueske’s bacon is a $1.50 upcharge. Cheese is $1. And you’ll pay $0.50 for caramelized onions and $0.75 for sauteed mushrooms.
I got a one-third pounder with the works, plus American cheese ($8.99) with a drink and side of the hand-cut rosemary garlic fries for an additional $4.89.
Burgers come in paper boats on a red serving tray. But there’s no plate needed to make this burger look good. In fact, mine came out pretty as a picture, sporting fresh frilly greens, melted cheese and a nice shiny bun. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d never have suspected it came from a fast food slinging hot dog shop.
The bun is sweet, tender and soft (as brioche ought to be). And it stays out of the way of the substantial burger, which is definitely the star of the show.
Dr. Dawg boasts the use of USDA prime certified black angus beef that’s fresh and never frozen. And that could be key to their substantial burger, which scores pretty high on my list for a fast-food patty. The burger itself is cooked to order; and it came out of the kitchen medium rare, as ordered (a huge plus, since it seems cooking a burger to order is an increasingly lost art). The beef was mildly flavored and not particularly seasoned. But, it was juicy, irregularly and loosely hand-packed, with a grilled flavor that complemented its beefiness.
Toppings were similarly quality driven. The cheese was nicely melted and offered additional salt and umami that was missing in the seasonings for the burger. And the lettuce and onion were crisp, adding both flavor and texture to the mix. Condiments were balanced; there was enough of each to add flavor, but not so much that ketchup or mayo was oozing out with every bite. Pickles came in thick slices, which also added a nice vinegary punch.
At 8.99, this was a well-priced burger for what you get. You’d pay a similar price at most bars for a similarly constructed burger. And it gets big points for being well prepared and topped with ingredients that didn’t seem like an after-thought.
Dr. Dawg’s burger is proof that great burgers can often be found in unexpected places.
Dr. Dawg is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 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.