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.
Skippy’s Burger Bar
113 Green Bay Rd., Thiensville, (262) 512-1240
Is it old? Is it new? Skippy’s Burger Bar is some of both.
On the one hand, Skippy’s had been a bar for a very long time. Built in 1855, the building has housed a bar for the duration of its existence. It’s the oldest bar in Ozaukee County and very likely among the oldest in the state. The current owners Ken and Janis Kucharski have been its caretakers since 1997.
On the other hand, the venue has really only been Skippy’s Burger Bar since 2018 when the Kucharskis renamed it (formerly Skippy’s Sports Pub)to reflect a more intentional focus on their food, namely burgers.
And burgers are a good portion of what you’ll find on their menu (which also features appetizers, sandwiches, housemade pizza, mac & cheese and a Friday fish fry). There are 17 burgers (topped in myriad ways), plus a veggie burger to round things out. My understanding is that you can also sub a veggie patty for any of the beef burgers on the menu.
Because a venue’s namesake burger should be the one that best represents them, I went with The Skippy, featuring lettuce, tomato, choice of cheese (American) and secret Skippy Sauce ($9). All burgers are served with housemade chips. But you can sub in house fries for $1 or sour cream and onion fries, onion rings, tater tots or cheese fries for $1.50.
The Skippy came out of the kitchen piping hot. At first glance, it was a bit smaller than some; but it smelled good and looked like it would be well worth eating. The burger patty was cloaked in beautifully melted cheese and surrounded by a beautiful red slice of tomato, fresh shredded lettuce and a standard pull-apart hamburger bun that gave it a bit of an old school look and feel.
The bun was soft and fresh. Even better, it was beautifully (and literally) toasted to an even golden brown on both cut edges.
Upon a first bite, I felt it may have teetered ever-so-slightly on the edge of being too much bread for a single burger; but after much contemplation, I decided it was too close to call. But next time, I’d probably upgrade to a double patty ($+3) to tip the balance in favor of the meat.
The burger patty, which I’d gauge at about 1/3 pound, was literally covered in cheese. But underneath I found a slightly irregular beef patty with a beautifully caramelized exterior. The patty was fully cooked, but still juicy, with a texture that was slightly softer than many burgers – almost like meatloaf – but also nicely seasoned with a moderately beefy flavor.
The toppings were basic, but well appointed. There was plenty of cheese (you got a bit in every bite), and the shredded lettuce was fresh and crisp. The tomato was also nicely sliced (not too thick) with good color and a nice fresh flavor.
I appreciated the thought of the housemade secret Skippy Sauce, partly because someone put in the thought and effort and didn’t settle for pre-made. A truly great burger sauce has the potential to offer the perfect amount of creaminess, tang and sweetness to round out a burger, without the heaviness of pure mayo.
This sauce offered part of that magical quotient. It was creamy and sweet, providing a foil for the salty ingredients. But it was missing the perfect acidic tang (usually lent by vinegar or pickles, depending on the recipe). Had the burger incorporated that element elsewhere, it would have been ideal. But, as it stood, it was just shy of a perfect 10.
Overall the Skippy was a pretty good burger. The bun was beautifully toasted (that’s no small thing), the ingredients were fresh, and you could tell that the composition was intentional. It missed the mark on only a few points, making it a decent burger for under $10.
The Skippy Burger had enough going for it that I’d be interested in exploring more of the burgers at this historic Thiensville bar.
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.