My Burger Trail journey kicked off in January of 2017, and for over three years, I've dedicated time and energy to searching for the best, most well-executed burgers in the City of Milwaukee and beyond. Along the way, I've put well over 100 burgers to the test.
Last summer, I focused my efforts on visiting area frozen custard stands, reporting back each week on my findings from over 20 local spots. Since yesterday officially marked the first day of summer, it seemed more than appropriate to revisit the ten highest ranked burgers in the category.
To achieve top scores, burgers need to perform well in all categories (appearance, bun, burger, toppings and value). In the case of these custard stand burgers, the clear winners are those that invest in high quality, flavorful beef. They’ve also taken the time to pay attention to the details, including the burger’s appearance, and the execution and balanced application of condiments and toppings.
Looking back on the list, I’m pretty satisfied. I’d happily eat any one of these burgers again (and mostly likely will).
10. Le Duc's Frozen Custard
It's the little things about the Le Duc's burger that made it worthy of mention. The flour-topped egg bun was beautifully toasted. Stone ground mustard felt like a nice upgrade and there was a nice tang from the cheddar cheese, which gave the modern burger a semblance of old-school charm.
9. Fred's Frozen Custard
There's a reason why Fred's has been thriving for over 50 years. If you're looking for a classic double cheeseburger, solid fries and the prerequisite chocolate malt, this is among a cadre of spots that truly delivers.
8. Kraverz Frozen Custard
The Kraverz double cheeseburger was a looker, showcasing both burger patties and layers of toppings neatly (and thoughtfully) stacked within its uniquely toasted bun. The lettuce piled over the sides of the sandwich; but the other elements were neatly intact; even the fried onions were tucked nicely beneath a layer of beautifully melted cheese.
The MooSa Burger had plenty going for it, and that includes the burger patty itself. The meat was nicely seasoned and pleasantly beefy. It was also just a touch greasy (but not too much), which is pretty much what you want in a fast food style burger. Of course, what won the day for this burger were its ultra-crispy edges, which offered a pleasantly fatty salty crunch to every exterior bite. Bonus: It also came with a beautiful lake view.
6. Big Deal Burgers & Custard
The Volcano Burger wasn't as incendiary as its name implied. But it was pretty darn tasty. If you find yourself in need of something even more over-the-top, you can't go wrong with the equally delicious namesake Big Deal Burger, which features three one-third pound patties of fresh sirloin, four slices of American cheese and six strips of bacon.
5. Robert's Frozen Custard
The burger patty on the Robert's cheeseburger deserved more of a spotlight. It was thin, slightly irregular and nicely caramelized with crisp edges that mimicked those of a smash burger. It was well seasoned, beefy and overall a joy to eat.
4. Hefner's Frozen Custard
The Cedar-Burger is one of the few custard stand burgers that slipped successfully out of the burger-cheese-condiments mold. Topped with Cedar Creek Winery's Pinot Grigio Swiss cheese spread, American cheese, bacon and fried onions, the burger offered texture, meatiness and a complex cheesiness that took it slightly over the top. In the end, it's a solid classic custard stand burger that's been gussied up just enough to make it memorable.
3. Georgie Porgie's
Order a double and the Porgie is the sort of burger that might remind you vaguely of the classic Big Mac; but it would beat out the national chain's version by a mile thanks to the little touches that pushed the Porgie above and beyond. The burger patty was browned and juicy, the toppings were balanced and the housemade Porgie sauce brought everything together. All in all, the The Porgie is a classic burger that's worth seeking out and devouring.
2. Betty's Burgers & Custard
There was nothing fancy going about the double cheeseburger I ordered last fall at Betty's. But I walked away impressed. The burgers were beefy and notably seassoned and the toppings worked together in creating a harmonious classic cheeseburger flavor profile.
7631 W Layton Ave, Greenfield, (414) 282-4312
5373 N Port Washington Rd, Glendale, (414) 961-3288
18880 W Bluemound Rd, Brookfield, (262) 789-9490
Overall score: 45/50
[Read the full review]
The Kopp's cheeseburger has never made one of my top ten lists for a variety of reasons (including its score, which places it outside the top 20). And yet, it's a burger I've likely eaten more often.
There's a reason for that. It lies in Kopp's ability to create a consistent, balanced classic burger profile again and again. It's the formula that conjures its loyal fan base, and it's one that ensures folks will notice when something changes (take last year's bun debacle for instance... a matter which has since been rectified). These things matter.
At Kopp's you can count on a nice crisp char around the irregular edges of the patty. Thanks to fresh meat and added butter, you won't find it to be dry. And, if you taste it on its own (as I do, every single time), you'll also find it to be well-seasoned with a decently beefy flavor. The Kopp's cheeseburger isn't revelatory, but it's a fine example of what happens when fast-food meets attention to detail.
In the end, if there's a burger I'm happy to eat sitting outside on a concrete ledge, at a nearby picnic table or in my car, this is still the one.
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.