At the end of 2009 I was sick of burgers. Apparently the new year cured that. Here are some thoughts about some of the places I have been over the past couple of months.
AJ Bombers – I raved about them here and said they dethroned Sobleman’s (even though I love the Sobleman burger) as the best burgers in Milwaukee. They are still awesome (and yes, still better than Sobleman’s) and now they have all kinds of weekly specialty burgers (check the blackboard). The servers and bartenders are great and it actually seems like people enjoy working there, which makes for a pleasant experience for the customers. You cannot go wrong with either the homemade fries or sweet potato chips. Both are awesome. The burgers are the perfect size, perfectly seasoned, and delicious. I am kind of stuck on the “AJ Burger” with American Cheese, lettuce, tomato and bomber sauce. I always add bacon too but next time I promise to try the Bomber, which features the AJ burger with their signature cheese stuffed, deep-fried portabella thrown in the mix.
Stack’d – As a huge fan of the previous occupant, The Social, I kind of stayed away from here because I missed the creative food from the Social. Stupid move on my part as the burgers at Stack’d are phenomenal. Stack’d has a list of specialty burgers and sandwiches, but I think the way to go is the build your own route. You choose everything; bun, protein, cheese, and toppings. For the protein in your “burger” you have the option of Wisconsin Grass-Fed Beef, Bison, Chicken, Turkey burger, or their own vegetarian black bean patty.
My burger consisted of a Miller Bakery Pretzel Roll, medium-rare Wisconsin grass-fed beef, goat cheese, jalapeno peppers, and bacon. Think of it as sort of a bacon-wrapped jalapeno popper on top of a burger. It worked quite impressively together. The burgers come with a couple of tasty fried pickle coins and your choice of hand cut fries, twisted mac and cheese (cheddar, smoked gouda, and blue cheese), slaw, onion rings, or seasonal fruit. The fries were some of the best around. I admire their healthy options but I’d ask to be seated elsewhere if anyone I was dining with ordered a burger with a side of fruit.
The on-tap and bottled beer selection is great with all kinds of microbrews, including several Wisconsin brews including one of my favorites, Ale Asylum Hopalicious, on tap. They also offer a nice twist on another familiar burger companion, the shake. Sure you can get regular shakes and floats here but they also have boozed up shakes and floats too. The idea of a Sprecher Root Beer Float spiked with Kahlua sounds damn tasty.
Trinity Three – I guess I never expected a great burger here, thinking that I’d fare better with fish and chips or a reuben. Irish themed restaurants usually have decent, but unremarkable food. Not the case here with “The Other Burger,” a glorious 1/2 pound Angus patty topped with Guinness soaked mushrooms, a special Trinity sauce, sharp white cheddar, and onion strings on a ciabatta roll. According to the Best Burgers In Milwaukee website, the Trinity sauce has mayo, sour cream, Dijon mustard, horseradish, Worcestershire Sauce, demi glace, and black pepper. This burger, while messy, was one awesome pub-style burger discovered in an unexpected place. Trinity Three has a bunch of Water Street Brews on tap (the Irish Stout was very good) but your best bet at a place like this is obviously a pint of Guinness.
Bunkers – This hidden gem on Greenfield Avenue in West Allis probably isn’t so hidden anymore since Carol Depotella gave it such a glowing review a couple weeks back, but it is a must-stop for any burger fan because their “Brad’s Barnbuster, which features a lot of local/Wisconsin ingredients, is an over-the-top masterpiece. A 1/2 pound patty is topped with bacon, onions, cheddar cheese, a spectacular tomato jam (replacing the boring ketchup, which I hate on burgers) and a fried egg. Its a gooey, juicy mess but is so delicious that I managed to get the whole thing down. A dining companion had the blue cheese burger and raved about that as well. Also tasty was the tomato bisque (offered daily) and the tenderloin “salad” which featured a perfectly cooked tenderloin atop some grilled vegetables with bleu cheese and horseradish.