Best Burger in Milwaukee
Milwaukee is somewhat of a hidden gem for foodies, and you’ll fall in love what the Brew City has to offer when it comes to burgers.
This list is diverse, to say the least. There are burger-centric, old-style diners that will feel exactly what you want Americana to feel like. There’s higher-end, upscale dining experiences that have creative takes on gigantic burger offerings.
And there are the newer-school, off-the-wall menu selections, often at pubs and microbrews, but found all over town nonetheless. There’s even a couple of more traditional sports bars on the list; a good burger is a good burger, and we didn’t discriminate.
There are plenty of massive half-pounder patties on our top 20 list, as well as some fast-food-style joints with thinner patties – yet no shortage of flavor. And there are plenty of options with burger patties that fall neatly in between.
One thing to note about Milwaukee – and Wisconsin in general, for that matter – there is a lot of butter on this list. A. Lot. Of. Butter. But that’s okay, and it’s also delicious.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
1. Oak Barrel
Oak Barrel is a brand-new pub house located in downtown Milwaukee that offers its patrons a variety of classic pub foods, but they were able to grab the No. 1 spot on our list on the strength of their burgers alone.
The two-floor restaurant opened in early 2018 and inhabits a renovated building in walking distance of the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena and plenty of other downtown attractions, including the convention center and Milwaukee Theater.
Oak Barrel serves what they term as “smash butter burgers”. There are several existing options on the menu, including the Oak Barrel Signature Burger (1/3 pound patty, cheddar, bourbon cider thick-cut bacon, caramelized onions, and roasted garlic aioli on a brioche bun). But the move just might be to build your own, with the ability to select from four different buns, five cheeses, six sauces, and several toppings.
There is an extensive craft beer and whisky menu as well, so there are plenty of choices when it comes to deciding on the beverage with which to wash down your Oak Barrel burger.
2. Who’s On Third?
Who’s On Third is a classic, award-winning American sports bar located in downtown Milwaukee and was previously named one of the 19 best sports bars in America by Business Insider.
Who’s On Third is a notch above what many would consider to be a “typical sports bar”, offering everything from a delicious brunch to more than a dozen varieties of sandwiches and wraps, plus several brats (it’s Milwaukee, after all) and creative burger offerings.
But we’re talking burgers today. The Kick Burger intrigues, with its house-made “kick sauce”, and the Maple Bacon Burger boasts a homemade maple aioli sauce. And, if you’re extra hungry, splurge for the Texas Mayhem Burger – a half-pound patty with pulled pork, grilled jalapenos, and onion rings, all piled high on Texas toast.
Let’s just say that there’s plenty to choose from at one of Milwaukee’s favorite sports bars and burger joints, and you won’t be disappointed in the least bit.
Sobelman’s opened around the turn of the century and offers a diverse menu but is best known for its burgers.
And as with any burger-centric restaurant, there’s a burger on the menu that carries’ the joint’s namesake. The Sobelman has American, Swiss, and cheddar cheese, plus bacon, fried onions, and jalapenos. There are also burgers carrying names such as The Bomb, The Wico, the Big SOB, and The Hangover (yes, there’s a fried egg on it).
There are 20 burgers on the menu, and they’re also famous for their spicy ketchup that you’ll find on each table in both of their Milwaukee locations.
4. AJ Bomber’s
You just might have seen AJ Bomber’s represented on Travel Channel – their Milwaukee Burger was recently the winner of Food Wars. There are four Milwaukee-area locations if you include the one located inside Miller Park, where baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers play.
As for the burgers themselves, we may as well start with the Milwaukee Burger. The city’s namesake is piled with Wisconsin Colby cheese and bacon, topped with Schlitz onions. Then there’s the Bomber Burger – a cheeseburger that has a stuffed-with-cheese mushroom on top.
AJ Bomber’s is the perfect place for those that are simply looking for a crazy menu’s worth of burger varieties. As a bonus, the appetizer list is wild, too.
5. Oscar’s Pub & Grill
Oscar’s is in a remodeled old building in the heart of Milwaukee and boasts a newly-expanded patio for its patrons to enjoy.
Many of Oscar’s burgers have a “Big” prefix on their names, from the The Big O (chipotle jack cheese, smoked gouda, hickory bacon, chorizo, fried onions, jalapenos, side of house-made guacamole) to The Big Gringo (mostly cheese and bacon), The Big Aloha (ham, Havarti cheese, pineapple, avocado), and more.
Oscar’s is the perfect marriage of classic Americana and a bit of Tex-Mex flavor.
6. Point Burger Bar
Point Burger Bar markets itself as the only burger spot in town where you can truly create your own specialty.
It really is a step-by-step experience. From choosing protein from a list that includes non-traditional options such as bison, lamb, duck, salmon, and more, to picking from seven different kinds of buns, and then choosing from endless toppings.
For example, the winner of one of the Burger of the Month awards was a lamb burger on ciabatta bread with ghost pepper cheese, pickles, jalapeno, mustard, and A1 Steak Sauce. Quite the creation.
Point Burger Bar is one of the more unique – and truly build-your-own – burger spots you’ll find anywhere.
Elsa’s is located in downtown Milwaukee that serves what they term as “proprietary, custom blend” half-pound burgers with countless cheese options to choose from.
The simplest burger on the menu? While, there’s The Burger, which comes only with “grilled, raw or burnt onions”. Also, The Cheeseburger, which includes one or all of American, Swiss, Wisconsin aged white cheddar, and Colby cheese.
There’s also some fairly complex burgers to choose from, but we’re most intrigued by the Greek Maiden Burger: a patty marinated in white wine and topped with feta cheese, black olives, fresh mint and red onions.
8. The Capital Grille
The Capital Grille would fall into the category of a slightly more upscale burger place, and not your burger-joint-on-the-corner type of establishment.
While a burger will run you something like 20 bucks, you’ll also have the option to choose from quite several surf-and-turf menu items, including the Lobster and Crab Burger with House Tarter Sauce, among other outstanding creations.
9. Jake’s Burger
Okay, here’s another higher-end burger restaurant — but you’d be making a huge mistake if you skipped over it. After all, these burgers are only in the eight to ten-dollar range.
Jake’s is known for serving up gigantic burgers and house-made pickles. The burger patties include short rib and brisket packed in alongside sirloin, ensuring that the meat has a juicy flavor that truly pops, especially given the massive size of the entrée.
The Truffle Burger, with melted Brie cheese, white truffle oil, and arugula, and the Carolina Burger, with creamy slaw, BBQ sauce, and a pickle, are two of the more intriguing options.
10. North Avenue Grill
North Avenue Grill is a small, modern diner in the Wauwatosa area of Milwaukee that is open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. six days out of the week and only until 3 p.m. on Sundays.
If you come for lunch or dinner (although brunch wouldn’t be a bad option, either!) North Ave burgers are half-pound patties, and if you don’t build your own burger, there are a handful of tasty options to choose from off the menu. The Fiery Jalapeno Popper is an angus patty with creamy jalapeno sauce on hickory smoked bacon, cheddar jack cheese, and crispy fried jalapenos.
11. Mason Street Grill
The Mason Street Grill will often serenade its guests with live jazz music and features a cozy patio, right in the heart of Milwaukee.
This is another pricier option, although you can’t go wrong with a Fried Lake Perch, a Wisconsin favorite when it comes to burgers. It includes Muenster cheese, ginger coleslaw, tartar sauce, lemon, and a soft-toasted bun.
Pick any of the burgers cooked on their wood-fire grill, and you’ll leave feeling full and satisfied.
12. Mazos Hamburgers
Mazos has been around since 1934 and maintains the appropriate diner-style look and feel for such an establishment.
As could be expected, the menu has several basic options, but when a diner has been around for some 80-plus years on the strength of hamburgers and cheeseburgers, well … you can’t go wrong. Plus, all burger combos come with two sides, so you can’t lose there, either.
13. Merriment Social
Merriment Social isn’t just a burger joint and is well-known for a variety of outstanding offerings. But it’s its namesake burger that keeps folks coming back.
The Merriment Burger includes American cheese, dry-aged bacon, house-made pickles and social sauce, and it’s a hit. There’s also the $5 weekly specialty burger available during the weekday happy hour.
For non-burger eaters, there is everything from Thai-themed to seafood, Tex-Mex, and a host of shakes to enjoy with your burgers. And yes, that includes adult milkshakes.
Kopp’s is famous for its dessert – its full name is Kopp’s Frozen Custard, after all – but you won’t be disappointed with any of the burger selections from the Milwaukee-area chain.
While it’s more of a fast food burger with thin patties, the sheer size of the burger and delicious combination of the meat, cheese and bun is enough to get it onto this list. Full disclosure: you won’t be wowed by the creativity, or lack thereof, when it comes to the burger menu. But that’s okay. Delicious is delicious, and that’s that.
Solly’s is famous for butter burgers. And not just, like, buttering the bun, but butter burgers. Trust us. And they’re legitimately famous among burger-lovers anywhere in the greater Milwaukee metro area.
The Cheesehead Burger is their original: a two-third-pound burger with grilled mushrooms, stewed and raw onions, and swiss, cheddar, and American cheeses – all from Wisconsin, of course!
Solly’s is open for breakfast, too, and if you’re super hungry and dig eating burgers for breakfast … you can do that here! So get excited and come hungry.
16. Nite Owl
Nite Owl is another burger-lover’s paradise masquerading as an ice cream parlor. Don’t be fooled; their burgers are amazing, although their ice cream focus means that they’re only open seasonally, and they close when they run out of beef. But they’ve been around for over 60 years, so … clearly it’s a hit.
Their burgers fall into the “old-fashioned” category. The patties are hand-formed, which is awesome, and ultra-cheesy. Again, nothing fancy. Just a big, juicy, fresh burger that you don’t want to miss out on.
17. Dr. Dawg
Dr. Dawg positions itself as an establishment offering comfort food “with a natural twist”. They focus primarily on Chicago-style dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, but they also offer up a massive burger with amazing taste.
In fact, there are only two burgers on their menu: the Char-grilled Gourmet Burger, and the Veggie Burger. But you can add whatever you want to the patty and bun, and they’ll cook the burger to order, even though the restaurant has more of a fast-food feel to it.
You can also get rosemary garlic fries, and don’t forget to try adding the house-made Dawg sauce to your gigantic burger.
Camino is located in Milwaukee’s historic Walker’s Point, and is all about bring fresh, local products to their pub menu – and serving up delicious craft beers.
Things aren’t fancy here when it comes to the burgers; there is basically one option. And you’ll see them cooking it up right behind the bar, too, so there’s no mystery here. The patties are half-pound behemoths and are served standard with American cheese and American cheese on a brioche bun.
They do offer specialty burgers on Wednesdays, so be sure to swing by then if something a little crazier is more your speed.
Goodkind is in Milwaukee’s Bay View area, just off the shores of Lake Michigan. They classify themselves as Old World dining and have an enormously diverse menu that reaches far beyond burgers.
But that said, Tuesdays are burger night, and the burgers are awesome. Goodkind locally-sources their burgers, and the toppings are often off-the-wall. To be clear: this is the opposite of No. 18 on this list, and when you get a burger at Goodkind, it will surely be more than just meat, cheese, and bun.
20. Dream Dance
Dream Dance Steak is located inside the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and is somewhat of a hidden (and admittedly unexpected) gem within Milwaukee when it comes to burgers.
In addition to steaks and seafood, Dream Dance now serves a Pinot Noir burger – 10 ounces of meat on a brioche bun, topped with crispy fried onions, arugula, and pinot noir butter. There’s also the Dream Dance Angus Burger, including smoked Gouda cheese, bread-and-butter pickles, sweet onion, and Thousand Island dressing.
Don’t be surprised by the diversity of this menu, and if you’re feeling a burger, either one of the above options will definitely hit the spot.