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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.
Joe's K Ranch
4840 S. Whitnall Ave., Cudahy, (414) 481-1775
Joe’s K Ranch has been serving customers since 1958 when Joe Kotarek established the local, family-operated tavern. Since that time, the bar has grown and Joe has retired. But Joe’s K Ranch is still family-owned and operated by Jerry, Joe’s son, and his wife Marilynn.
This popular Cudahy “supper pub” might be best known for its affordable, no-nonsense steak and prime rib dinners. But it’s also known for its friendly service, patio, two sand volleyball courts and six horseshoe courts.
The K Ranch Burger features a ground chuck patty topped with cheddar, mozzarella, and pepper jack cheeses, sauteed onions, bistro sauce, lettuce, tomato and jalapenos and pickle on the side ($10.99). Add fries or haystack onions for +$1.49.
The carry-out burger was beautifully packaged (albeit in a lined styrofoam container) and tucked into a recyclable plastic bag for transport (not quite cancelling out the styrofoam, but interesting choice). Cool items were separated from the hot burger, sauce and jalapenos were tucked into cups, and the toasted bun was kept separate, preventing it from getting soggy.
Pulled from the packaging, the K Ranch Burger was a towering piece of work that sported a cascade of beautifully melted cheese, crispy bacon, a red tomato slice and browned bits of char-grilled burger peeking out from beneath
Glossy, soft and tasty, the bun was both decently toasted and nicely sized for the size of the patty. Its slightly sweet flavor was great match for the spicy savory burger and toppings.
I had no idea what to expect from the one-third pound ground chuck patty. But I was delighted to slice off a piece of the beautifully browned burger and find its interior cooked to a very solid medium (with a vaguely visible pink coloration still evident).
Its exterior had a nice char, and the meat was beautifully seasoned; it had a nice fresh, beefy flavor that was complemented by a nice balance of char-grilling. It was lighty packed and moderately juicy, with a pinch between the fingers showcasing a good, solid fat content.
As for the toppings, they were impressively fresh. On the vegetal side, the Romaine lettuce was crisp and unblemished, as was the thickly-cut slice of tomato which was above-average in flavor for a tomato in March. Meanwhile, the sliced fresh jalapenos (which I added to my burger) were crisp and mild in heat, but added a nice green hot pepper flavor.
As for execution, the bacon was both tasty and crisp, nicely criss-crossed atop the melted cheeses, all three of which contributed its own unique elements (the classic tang of the cheddar, the creaminess of the mozzarella and the slightly salty mild spice of the pepper jack) to the table.
Meanwhile, from what I could tell, the bistro sauce was a tasty mash-up of ketchup, mustard, horseradish and herbs that pulled everything together as a good burger sauce should.
A great burger doesn’t need a huge slate of toppings to make it great. But, this burger was thoughtfully composed with a host of textures (including the crisp lettuce and jalapenos and the juicy tomato), a truly tasty burger and a nice blend of sweet, savory and fresh flavors.
At just under $12.50 (with fries), the K Ranch Burger is more than fairly priced. Even better, it’s among the best bar burgers I’ve had in a good long while.
The K Ranch Burger featured a combination of crunchy, salty, sweet and spicy flavors and textures all rolled up into one beautiful burger package.
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.