"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee is brought to you by Miller Brewing Company, calling Milwaukee home since 1855. 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. 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.
7751 N. Teutonia Ave.
It’s been just about a year since I featured Rollie’s as part of our Hidden Gems series. I’d never been there before; but it didn’t take long for the bar to endear itself to me. The people are friendly, the vibe is low key and the burgers … well, Rollie’s is self-described by its staff as "a bar with a burger problem." So I knew I’d be back eventually to try one out on the Burger Trail.
Long-time manager Sharon Andryauskas said each six-ounce patty is made from an 80/20 blend of fresh beef, which is hand-packed and cooked on the grill at the end of the bar. And you can order them topped pretty much how you want, adding lettuce, tomato, mayo and onions for free and bacon for a small upcharge ($1.25).
You won’t mind, because the burgers themselves are a steal. It’s $4.25 for a basic hamburger, but you’ll pay just $4.50 for a cheeseburger and $5.25 for a mushroom Swiss burger. Burgers are a la carte; but you can add on crinkle-cut fries, seasoned fries or onion rings for a minimal charge.
On this visit, I ordered the mushroom Swiss burger, which features a six-ounce beef patty, Swiss cheese and mushrooms. I added a half-order of fries for $1.25, a beer for $3 and my bill came to a whopping $9.
Pro tip: Don’t sleep on the soup at this friendly bar; both the chili and featured soup are housemade by Andryauskus and her husband, Jeff.
When it comes to appearance, this burger erred on the side of simplicity; but there was no shame at all in its glistening, caramelized beef patty and nicely melted Swiss … nor the bun, for that matter, which was visibly soft and toasted to golden brown. This distinctly unfussy bar burger could certainly be gussied up with lettuce, tomato and even bacon; but it didn’t need all the fuss to look (and smell) pretty darn good.
The bun is a fairly straightforward bakery style roll. It’s soft and sturdy and mine was nicely griddled, giving it a slightly crisp, golden hue. It’s also well-sized for the burger. No complaints here.
The hand-pattied nature of the burger is belied by its irregular shape, which boasted crisp edges and a nicely grilled exterior. The patty was substantial with a nice loose pack and beefy flavor. You won’t be asked how you’d like it prepared; mine came out solidly medium well. It wasn’t notably seasoned, but it was sufficiently juicy and just the right amount of "bar burger greasy." It also packed in a subtle charbroiled flavor.
When it came to toppings, I kept things simple.That means I got beautifully melted Swiss cheese, a good amount for the size of the burger) and a reasonable helping of mushrooms. I’ll warn you, the mushrooms were canned (not cooked fresh, which definitely would have elevated the entire burger); so if you’re not a fan, that might steer you away from this particular topping combo.
I had the good fortune of also tasting a cheeseburger topped off with the works (lettuce, tomato, mayo fried onions and bacon), and aside from the generally lackluster winter tomato, things were fresh and flavorful. So I decided to split the difference on this.
It’s pretty tough to scoff at a $5 burger. And when the burger itself is hand-pattied and cooked right, it’s even more difficult. You’re definitely not going to find a fancy, fussy burger at Rollie’s; but you will find a basic bar burger done right.
If you’ve got a craving for a solid, no-frills bar burger, you can find it at Rollies… for right around $5.
Rollie's opens at 11 a.m. daily. The grill is open until 10 p.m. daily (except during Packers games and the Super Bowl).
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.