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.
2301 S. Howell Ave., (414) 885-1118
While I’ve found great burgers at a variety of locations around town, it often pays to patronize a business that specializes in them. That’s because – theoretically – they’ve put the time and energy into creating great burgers, and they’ve bet the survival of their entire business on it.
One such spot is the new Gordo Burger, which offers a rotating selection of half-pound burgers and sides. Most options are traditional (signature beef burgers with toppings and build-your-own burgers). Others, like the kofte burger and falafel burgers offer alternative flavor profiles for those interested in variations on the burger theme.
Since Gordo Burger is new, I played it safe with this review, focusing on their (traditional) namesake burger to give you a feel for the general quality of their product, which is often most evident when you take things down to basics (for example, myriad toppings can all-too-often distract from mediocre burger patties, which is good or bad, depending on your perspective).
The Gordo Burger features a half-pound premium beef patty topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and special sauce ($10). I did pay +$1 for caramelized onions. I also added what turned out to be a very hefty (definitely shareable) portion of onion rings for $5 more.
The carry-out burger was packaged in a recyclable cardboard box, separate from the onion rings, which were packaged separately in a paper sleeve. The burger transported well, arrived hot, and really wasn’t all that worse for wear, with the possible exception of the lettuce, which got a bit wilted.
Pulled from its packaging, the burger was a bit on the messier side, with onions spilling out over the edge of the bun and lettuce leaves falling out of place. But it didn’t plate too badly. Without primping, the burger comes off beautifully cheesy (can you even see the burger patty?) with color from the lettuce and tomato, and even a little glimpse of sauce.
Like most buns made by Sciortino’s, this one was sturdy but soft with a lovely golden hue and a pleasantly airy texture. Both sides of the bun were toasted until golden, and the bun was on the heftier side, but definitely appropriately sized for the half-pound patty and toppings.
As for the burger, it ticked off a number of boxes right out of the gate. At a glance, you could see it had a beautiful seared crust on the exterior, and when cut open, the inside was a solid medium (or just ever so slightly beyond). The texture was moderately packed; and while the burger wasn’t overtly juicy, it definitely was not dry. Meanwhile, the patty was seasoned just enough to bring out a bit of the beefy character of the meat.
As for the toppings, let’s start at the bottom of the heap. Spring mix (the lettuce of choice here) is a tough sell for me on any burger, as it tends to wilt immediately, whether eaten in the restaurant, out in the parking lot or taken home. Such was the case here (though if I’m honest, it held up remarkably well via carry-out). I’m sure that restaurants choose it because it’s frilly and adds color; but beyond that, spring mix just doesn’t offer much in the way of texture or flavor.
That said, the remaining toppings were solid and generally offered a good mix of sweet, salty and savory flavors. The cheese, as we’ve already established, was beautifully melted; and thanks to its thorough coverage, it wasn’t drowned out by the half-pound of meat. The tomato was a bit lackluster (as “winter” tomatoes tend to be); but it had a modicum of flavor and was nicely sized and in balance with the remaining ingredients. The burger sauce was sweeter than most, with less of a tang; but it was applied with moderation and nicely offset by the salty cheese. And yes, those onions were caramelized; I love it when a menu delivers on its promises.
A $10 burger (sans sides) might sound spendy; but it’s easy to forget that you’re buying a half-pound of beef. It’s also easy to overlook that you’re buying custom-ground brisket and sirloin (as opposed to ground chuck), not to mention the labor behind it all. And when that burger is topped with quality ingredients, the price tag starts making a great deal of sense.
If it’s a half-pounder you’re after, you’ll find a well executed one at Gordo Burger.
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.