"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee is back! For the entire month of March, we're serving up fun articles on bars, clubs and beverages – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Follow along with the #DrinkOnMke hashtag too. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
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. And, if you enjoyed the addition of veggie burgers to the mix, you can look forward to more of those. I'll be adding at least one veggie burger review to the mix every month.
Natty Oaks Pub & Eatery
11505 W. National Ave., West Allis
There’s also a bit of fun infused in the culture at Natty Oaks. You can find it in the bar’s clever name, which is a nod to both its location at the intersection of National (Natty) and Oklahoma (Oaks) Avenues and – as the bar’s fictitious origin story goes – an Irish gal named Natalie "Natty" Oaks who came to Wisconsin and fell headlong for the Packers, Brewers and Golden Eagles, inspiring her to stay and open a sports bar.
It’s got great patio spaces to enjoy in the summer, a weekend brunch sporting offerings like Rumchata French toast and a regular menu with standard pub options like wings, pizza, sandwiches and burgers.
On the burger side, you’ll find five signature options including a classic cheeseburger, a mushroom Swiss burger, the Mexican burger and the Western Daze burger topped with BBQ pork, cheddar and onion rings (priced $9-13).
The Mexican Burger features a hefty pub-style patty topped with pepper jack and cheddar cheeses, avocado, salsa, jalapenos, sour cream and chipotle mayo ($11).
It’s tough to accuse this burger of not looking appetizing enough. After all, it’s got all the requirements, from a nice looking burger patty with visible caramelization to great melted cheese and toppings that pull in a wash of color.
I’ve not met a terrible many uniquely styled buns on the Burger Trail. So, this one was a particular delight. Built like a focaccia, studded with focaccia and a sprinkling of baked-in cheese, it both looked appetizing and tasted great, with almost a buttery flavor. It was very soft, however, and (particularly the thin bottom bun) would have benefited from a heavier toasting to protect it against the juicy burger and toppings.
If you like a burger with a good char-grilled flavor, this one qualifies. The large uniform patty was nicely browned on the exterior with a juicy, loosely packed texture. It also benefited from a moderate level of seasoning, which nicely showcased its beefy character.
As for the toppings, they brought a world of flavor to the table with a good distribution of chopped tomatoes, creamy avocado and picante jalapenos. The chipotle mayo added a bit more spice; but it was nicely balanced by the creamy avocado and sour cream.
Meanwhile, the cheeses were beautifully melted, with the cheddar bringing a pleasant tang and the pepper jack rounding out the overall spiciness.
Overall, the flavors were balanced between creamy, spicy and just a bit of acidity, giving the burger a nice rounded Mexican inspired flavor. Best of all, my fear that the burger would become a huge slippery mess from all the creamy toppings, was largely unfounded. There were enough toppings to provide flavor, but not so many that it overpowered the burger or made it unwieldy to eat.
At $11, this burger was a solid buy. Combine that with a nice assortment of toppings and a generous portion of fries (plus an unexpected M&M-studded cookie) and you definitely get what you pay for.
If nachos – or maybe a gringo-style taco – collided with a chargrilled burger, you’d get something like The Mexican Burger at Natty Oaks.
Natty Oaks is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight.
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.