Little Musky Bar in Arbor Vitae: A Northwoods Hamburger Heaven


My second posting on my northwoods trip revolves abound the Little Musky Bar in Arbor Vitae.  Located on the shores of Little Muskie Lake where Highway 51 where 72 heads east to St. Germain and Eagle River, the Little Musky has been a northwoods fixture for years.  I’d like to again thank the posters over at the LTH Forum who recommended this place for one thing and one thing only, the sirloin burger. 

It was a perfect early fall day in the northwoods.  The leaves had turned from green to an array of oranges, yellows, reds, and brown and the temperature was hovering around 65 with not a cloud in the sky.  As I sat at the small bar sipping my first High Life of the day I savored the breeze from outside.  It smelled  of up north, like pine needles and dried leaves.  It was perfect, but it would get much better.   I was there for one thing and one thing only, their famous sirloin burger.  Hand pattied to order and cooked on a flat grill tucked away in the corner of the bar, people just rave about them.  In fact during the 2 hours I hung around the bar every single person that walked in that bar (probably 20 or more) ordered a sirloin burger, including me.  

I ordered the 1/3 lb burger with American Cheddar cheese ad fried onion.  They also offer 1/2 pound burgers.  There are other bar staples on the menu but I didn’t really look too closely.  I watched as bartender pattied up my burger from a small ball of ground sirloin and set it on the grill, followed by a hearty pile of onions and some butter.  Within minutes I could smell the unmistakable smell of grilled onions and beef.  My mouth began to water.  Soon after I ordered my second Miller High Life my burger and a bag of chips was placed in front of me.   I bit into the burger and it was so good.  The meat was a perfect rosy red medium rare and it tasted very fresh.  I immediately regretted not getting the half-pounder.  I tried to savor every mouthful, taking smaller bites as I came closer to the end.  I can honestly tell you I strongly considered ordering a second one, it was that good.  If this was in Milwaukee it would rank in the top 3 best burgers in the City.  For comparison’s sake I would probably put it on par with Sobleman’s, with a slight edge to the Sobleman’s (I love the sauteed jalapenos).   The only thing that would have made this better would be a nice basket of french fries.  The chips are fine, but when I have a burger I really want fries on the site.  I don’t think they even had fries on the menu otherwise I think I would have ordered them.

I lingered for an hour or so after I ate my burger watching ESPN and talking to the bartender, who may be the new owner.  I suppose I should have asked.  Anyhow it is the perfect up-north bar, low key, unpretentious, cozy, and friendly.  The decor is pure northwoods cabin with glossy stained wood walls and ceilings, and fish mounted on the walls.  I cannot believe that in all the years I have been coming up north I never set foot in here.  It has instantly become a must-visit place for all future northwoods vacations.

EatWisconsin Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating Guide: 0=Absolutely terrible, avoid at all costs, 1=Bad, 2=Mediocre/Average, 3= Admirable, 4=Excellent, 5=Sublime

The Little Musky Bar is located at 1455 Hwy 51 N. Arbor Vitae, WI 54568 (715) 356-6738


4 thoughts on “Little Musky Bar in Arbor Vitae: A Northwoods Hamburger Heaven

  1. Pingback: Other Minocqua Spots for Food Lovers « EatWisconsin

  2. I’ve eaten at some places in Minocqua and have not been impressed, but the Little Musky really struck a good chord with me. Their sirlon burger is to die for. If you’re looking for a good place to eat in Minocqua, then check out the Little Musky and order their Sirlon Burger.

  3. 6-12-2011
    Owners helper walked out on her and quit right after he took our order. Figured it was just one of those things, he was probably the problem. Walked in 3 weeks later with my friend and mother, the place was empty and asked her around 11 a.m. if the kitchen was open and she rudely said “Now why wouldn’t it be?” I said “How would I know or not?” She again rudely said “What’s that supposed to mean?” I said “I don’t see anyone eating!” We walked out and will never return! Good luck lady!

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