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. Sweet Diner
239 East Chicago St., (414) 488-9600
Since 2017, Sweet Diner has been serving up breakfast, lunch and brunch dishes in a a space that’s decidedly swank, but still offers a cool, casual atmosphere that brings together cream city brick with sleek modern lighting and decor in neutral tones like beige and grey.
The menu is similar. You’ll find “diner” staples like omelettes, egg dishes, pancakes and waffles, along with sandwiches and salads. But each has its own little upscale twist.
I’ve had their burger on my list of items to try for a while now, and this week I finally had the opportunity to give it a try.
The Three Cheeseburger features two Black Angus beef patties, pickles, onions and signature Sweet Diner sauce, plus American, cheddar and provolone cheeses on a brioche bun. The burger is served with a choice of fries, breakfast potatoes, the soup of the day or seasonal fruit ($14). Gluten-free bread is available upon request.
Cheesy is the first word that came to mind when the burger was delivered to our table. And that’s because there was no shortage of the Wisconsin staple, which cloaked both burger patties and dripped down the sides of the bun.
From there, its presentation offered a glimpse of green from the pickles, a peek of red onion and a glimpse of one caramelized burger patty. Sometimes, you’ll find a pick stabbed through a burger that seems to be there mostly for looks. But the long toothpick that held together the Three Cheeseburger was actually keeping this slippery, cheesy monster together.
The brioche was fresh and soft. The cut sides were lightly dry toasted, giving them a subtle crispness. And the bun, overall, was well sized for the meat and toppings. Over the course of eating, the juices from the burger and the greasiness of all that cheese gave the brioche a run for its money; but the bun held up fairly well, only giving in to a bit of sogginess on the bottom.
The burger at Sweet Diner is cooked to order. I ordered mine mid-rare, and – much to my delight – I got two patties that were nicely cooked on the exterior and pink throughout. That’s a plus. The burger patties were thin and uniformly shaped with caramelized grill marks on both sides and maybe even a few crispy edges. The patties were seasoned fairly generous, mostly on the exterior. And while the meat wasn’t particularly robust in flavor, it offered enough beef flavor to satisfy.
On the toppings side, the cheese was overwhelmingly the star. That’s because it was applied in spaces. I’m not one to shy away from cheese; but this was definitely the cheesiest burger I’ve eaten in a long while (if not ever). The blend of cheeses worked together, the American cheese contributing its creamy melting qualities and salty umami flavor, and that was rounded out by the flavor of cheddar, which gave some complexity. The provolone? It got a bit lost in the shuffle.
As for the remaining toppings, red onions were thinly sliced and applied lightly; there were just enough of them to offer a bit of onion flavor, but not enough that it was overwhelming. The thinness of the cut made them easy to eat without pulling out chunks of onion in a single bite. Meanwhile the pickles, which covered the top of the burger, offered a good counterpoint to the rich bath of cheeses with their acidic pop and juicy vegetal presence. Meanwhile, the burger sauce brought a fairly classic flavor profile to the table, which added a touch of sweetness to the otherwise largely savory burger.
At $14 with a generous portion of fries, the Sweet Diner burger is consistently priced with its competitors. The burger patties were sizeable (uncooked, I’m guessing they weighed in at a half pound of meat), and the toppings were generous.
The Three Cheeseburger at Sweet Diner is a step above the usual diner burger.
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.