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.
Kopp’s Frozen Custard
7631 W. Layton Ave., Greenfield, (414) 282-4312
5373 N. Port Washington Rd., Glendale, (414) 961-3288
18880 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield, (262) 789-9490
In this case, the KRK Burger, named for frozen custard Karl Kopp, happens to be the first burger Kopp’s has released in as many as 67 years. And that, my friends, is as good a reason to try it out as any.
I visited the Greenfield location and ordered a KRK Burger, which features a toasted bun that’s layered with ketchup, mayo, fried onions, American cheese, a burger patty, bacon, more American cheese, tomatoes, raw onions, even MORE American cheese, pickles and spicy mayo ($7.25). The burger comes topped with a signature top-of-bun pickle, a small pile of fries and a couple of Kopp’s crispy onion rings.
Turns out the new KRK Burger comes in its own special packaging. Not only is it tucked into an oversized paper sheath, it's then placed in a paper-lined Styrofoam take-out container with its accompanying fries and onion rings. What that ensures is that the burger remains quite impressively intact, even with its many layers of toppings.
In my burger's case, I found a nicely striated presentation that showcased a good number of the toppings, including deep red tomato slices, bright white raw onion and a peek of crisp bacon. There was also a nice view of that classic burger patty with its crisp, charred edges, some melted cheese and oozing condiments. It looked messy, but also pretty delicious.
Say what you will, but I did deduct a point for the Styrofoam box, since there are now plenty of options for packaging that don’t contribute to killing the earth.
Kopp’s soft bakery buns are a necessary part of the picture. They’re well sized for the burger patty, and somehow – despite their ultra-pillowy texture – they always hold up to the toppings. And that was the case, even with the KRK burger, which is significantly messier than most Kopp’s burgers. I was pretty impressed.
Like most fast-food burgers, the Kopp’s patty comes well-done. That’s just the way things are. However, there’s redemption in both the flavor and texture of the Kopp’s burger that shouldn’t be overlooked.
While there tends to be a bit of variation from location to location, you can nearly always count on a nice crisp char around the irregular edges of the patty. And, while "juicy" is not a word I’d use to describe the patty, you won’t find it to be dry (that’s likely thanks to both their unfrozen beef as well as the butter with which its grilled). If you taste it on its own (as I did), you’ll also find it to be well-seasoned with a decently beefy flavor. The burger isn’t revelatory; but it’s a fine example of what happens when fast-food meets attention to detail.
Now … the toppings. These are really what make the difference on the KRK burger, which sports a very long list of ingredients. Here's a close-up so you can see them for yourself.
For the sake of expediency, I’ll highlight the things I thought made the burger stand out. First and foremost, the toppings offered a variety of textures, from the crisp bacon and raw onion to the soft cheese and fried onions. There were also layers of flavor. The "spicy" mayo wasn’t particularly spicy; but it did add a bit of tang to the burger, which I found to be quite delicious. Tomatoes add freshness, while the ketchup and pickles offer the balance of a slightly vinegary punch.
And then there was the cheese. For some, three layers of American cheese might be excessive; indeed, it makes for a very cheesy burger. Based on the placement of the slices, you also get some variation in texture. The cheese near the burger is well melted, almost melding with the burger itself, while the other two slices remain a bit more firm, giving a toothier texture.
Of all the toppings, the one I could have done without was the bacon. While it did add a bit of texture, there wasn't enough that you could taste it in most bites. And, when tasted on its own, it was relatively average in terms of flavor.
A side note, which had no bearing on the score: this burger was kind of a mess to eat. It didn’t exactly drip down my arm, but there were enough toppings that things tended to shift and ooze while I was eating it. In the end, at least five napkins were sacrificed for the sake of my burger eating enjoyment. That is all to say: there are burgers from Kopp’s that are a good fit for eating on the go; this is not one of them.
The KRK burger is significantly more filling than a Kopp’s cheeseburger. In fact, it was satisfying enough that I almost didn’t have the room to augment my meal with a bit of after-dinner custard. And, at just over $2 more, it’s still a pretty great deal.
Was this burger worth a 67-year wait? Of that I’m not altogether certain. However, if you’re a fan of Kopp’s burgers, and love burgers that take things a little bit over-the-top, this burger is likely to put a smile on your face.
Kopp’s is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.