By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Oct 13, 2021 at 10:02 AM

’Tis Dining Month, the tastiest time of year! This means we’re dishing up fun and fascinating food content throughout October. Dig in, Milwaukee!

What's in a great burger? It starts with high quality ingredients (scrimp on your beef or toppings and it shows). From there, it's about creating a balanced flavor profile and ensuring that the execution of that burger (from the toast on the bun to the sear on the burger) is on point. 

In fact, if I've learned anything over my past four years on the Burger Trail, it's that a great burger takes as much thought as a dish on a fine dining menu. Here are five spots that take their burgers seriously. 

1. Dairyland

The Dairyland Cheeseburger

Zocalo Food Park, 636 S. 6th St., (414) 531-5772

No frills classic burgers are a tricky proposition. After all, aside from cheese and a few condiments, there’s nothing cloaking the quality of the meat. And Dairyland is proof that – even at a fast food joint – it's worth the effort to grind your beef in-house, season it well and train your staff to cook it right every single time.

If you want a well executed burger that tastes just like a burger should, this is among just a few in town that deliver. Read the full review.

2. Wild Roots

Duck Fat Burger from Wild Roots
6807 W. Becher St., West Allis, (414) 231-9081

The expectations were high on this burger: first because house-ground meat should be superior  to its pre-ground counterparts (however customized); but also because it was fried in duck fat, an element that – when used well – has the potential to not only offer up a crisp exterior (thanks to its high smoke point), but also a rich, silky mouthfeel and complex flavor profile.

Duck fat alone does not a great burger make; but in this case it added to what was already a stellar creation. Read the full review.

3. Saint Bibiana

Bibiana burgerX

1327 E. Brady St., (414) 988-4629

A simple, well-prepared burger is a thing of beauty. But, as I’ve noted on numerous occasions, it can be tricky to pull off. The fewer the toppings, the more the burger depends on the quality and flavor of the meat. And – when you look beyond the meat – the remaining ingredients need to be on par. They need to taste great and offer a balanced flavor profile. The Bibiana Burger scored well on all of those counts. This two-napkin burger easily ranks among the top burgers in the city. Score: Read the full review.

4. The Diplomat

The Diplomac from The DiplomatX

815 E. Brady St., (414) 800-5816

The Diplomac is proof that housemade ingredients – when executed well – can absolutely blow away the competition. 

The Diplomac's thin, grilled patties are reminiscent of classic fast-food-style burgers; but they boast a ton more flavor thanks to deft seasonings and a good balance between meat and fat. They'd be great on their own, but get even better when paired with the classic balance of sweet, salty and savory toppings.

If a Big Mac and a Whopper had a baby – and that baby inherited all the good genes and then some – you'd end up with the Diplomac. Read the full review.

5. Heirloom

The Heirloom BurgerX

Food truck, (262) 229-1157

Fresh was the word that kept running through my mind as I ate this burger. The tomato was beautiful, ruby red and not too thickly sliced. The lettuce was crisp and fresh, and – along with the fresh rings of red onion – offered the burger a nice textural element with every bite. And the sweet burger sauce offered a counterpoint to both the freshness of the vegetables and the savory, umami in both the beef and cheese.

In fact, the Heirloom Burger is right up there with some of the better burgers in town. Read the full review.

Want more?

Here are 170+ Burger Trail reviews to savor.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

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.