Stack'd Burger Bar
170 South 1st Street, Milwaukee WI (map); 414-931-1919; stackedbar.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Trendy joint serving unique sandwiches and juicy, locally-sourced, grass-fed beef
Want Fries With That? Fries are handcut but slightly overcooked. The onion rings are gigantic and the best I've ever had
Price: Hangover Stack, $11; Buttermilk Onion Ring appetizer, $8
A restaurant named Stack'd might not immediately conjure up images of burgers in your head. Once you see the menu, you might still wonder why "Burger Bar" is the restaurant's tagline. There's only one beef burger on the menu, two if you count the make-it-yourself option. Don't let the wandering menu fool you, however, because the burgers are center stage.
Housed in the space that was previously The Social, Stack'd is a casual, chic, loft-like space with tons of cream city brick and a variety of booth, table, lounge, and bar seating. The kitchen is open, giving diners a glimpse of the flames shooting up from the grill and the chef pounding potatoes through the fry cutter.
The menu's sandwiches run the gamut from a Texas-inspired barbecue sauce-topped bison patty to the Fahgettaboudit, a meatball patty with a side of marinara. The signature burger, the Hangover Stack, is a generous 7-ounce beef patty topped with fried onions, Nueske's bacon, sharp cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and a fried egg. Breaded and deep fried dill pickle slices come with all sandwiches, and the Hangover Stack includes a bottle of Tobasco.
Stack'd prides itself on using local Wisconsin ingredients, and the beef is no exception. All their beef burgers are made with locally sourced, grass-fed beef. The result: tender, juicy, full-bodied burgers with enough beefy oomph to stand out amongst the toppings. The patty had distinct grill marks and slight charring around the edges. I ordered my burger medium, and while it was mostly pink in the middle, some parts had had too much heat and were a bit overcooked. Even still, it was some fantastic meat.
You can specify how you'd like your egg cooked, a surprising attention to detail. As I requested, my egg came out over easy—the yolk ran everywhere as soon as I cut the burger in half, leaving a nice little pool to dip into on the plate. The smoky Neuske's bacon was a perfect topping, as expected. I really enjoy pickles on my burger, so I was intrigued and a little concerned about the only pickles being deep fried. While they did add some grease, the fried pickles remained crisp and tart, giving the burger something acidic to cut through the heaviness of it all. When the server asks what kind of bun you'd like, opt for the Miller Bakery pretzel roll: It holds up better to the stacked sandwich than the classic bun, which was slightly dry.
Burgers come with a choice of side. The hand-cut french fries were fresh and crunchy, but fried for a few seconds too long. They had the very slight bitter taste of burnt potato skin. Still, they were commendable. The Twisted Mac 'n Cheese, though apparently homemade, was a little too Velveeta-like for my tastes. Some sharper cheeses and a less homogeneous texture would improve it.
Also a side choice, the homemade onion rings are the best I've ever had. As an appetizer, they're served a foot high on a metal spindle, which has its pros and cons: It keeps the rings crispy longer as they're not steaming in a pile, but they don't stay hot very long. The onions slices are massive—some half an onion tall—and the crumb breading clings to the onion beautifully. The zesty barbecue aioli sauce served with the rings is a nice change from the standard ranch dressing. There were so many in the appetizer order we had to doggy bag half of them.
Stack'd has a menu of creative appetizers and sandwiches with a large wine and beer list and even spiked milkshakes for a liquid dessert. They support the community by offering numerous vegetarian options, a gluten-free burger roll, and locally sourced ingredients. There are a number of interesting sandwiches to choose from, but with a signature burger that good, you may never decide to try anything else.