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.
Oscar’s Winner’s Circle
3800 W. Burnham St.
Oscar’s Winner’s Circle, the sister restaurant to Oscar’s on Pierce, opened last spring. Despite its former life as a corner tavern, the new location is bright and cheerful with plenty of windows, comfortable seating and a warm wood-filled interior that’s modern, yet cozy.
While the menu is thematically similar to the Pierce Street location, the signature burger offerings are quite different. A few are inspired by classic Mexican flavors (The Gordo features chicharrons, salsa verde and chihuahua cheese), while others are more internationally focused (take the banh mi burger, for instance).
On my latest visit, I ordered up a Winner’s Burger which features a laundry list of toppings including ham, bacon, chorizo, peppers, fried onions, chipotle jack, and a mix of fresh onions and cilantro. It comes with a side of guacamole and hand-cut fries ($8.25).
This burger is impressive. It looks huge on the plate with its big, majestic bun. There’s not a ton of color at play with this one, though in my case you could see the peppers and fried onions gliding right over the edge of the burger along with bits of melted cheese. There was a certain greasy charm about it, and the small wafting up from the plate was pretty fantastic.
Like the buns at Oscar’s on Pierce, these are light and airy with just a bit of chew. And, despite the bun’s appearance as being far too overwhelming for the burger, it’s that airiness that redeems it. The bun, which was also nicely toasted, has capacity for soaking up a good bit of the juices from the burger. And that’s a very good thing. After all, in this burger’s case, the juices are mingled with the flavors of bacon and chorizo, and you don’t want to lose a single bit of them.
I didn’t really distinguish a difference between the burger at this location and the original Oscar’s. In fact, the kitchen seems to be prepping them in an identical fashion. After all, when I ordered mine mid-rare, it came closer to medium and that’s very consistent with my experience at both spots. Even so, the loosely packed burger was still juicy, with just enough fat to give it a nice unctuousness. It was also well seasoned, with a nice beefy flavor.
Combined, the toppings on this burger offer a nice spectrum of flavor: salty, pickled, fresh and spicy. Both the ham and bacon are chopped, so their presence doesn’t overwhelm the burger, but there’s a little bit of porky flavor in every bite. Raw onions supply a bit of texture, and the chorizo enriches the burger with a bit of its greasy, spicy goodness. It’s not overly cheesy, but there’s enough chipotle jack to supply that fatty, gooey umami you want on any burger. Definitely add the guacamole to the burger; it’s a nice fresh element on a burger that’s otherwise pretty meat-forward.
If Oscar’s has one thing in the bag, it’s value. You get a hefty burger with big flavor and a healthy portion of hand-cut fries for just over $8. No arguments here.
If you like the burgers from Oscar’s on Pierce, you’ll likely find another happy place at Oscar’s Winner’s Circle.
Oscar’s Winner’s Circle is open daily from 11 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.