Henry's Pub and Grille
2523 E. Belleview Place, Milwaukee WI 53211 (map); 414-332-2772; facebook.com/HenrysTavern
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: A tiny bar that serves fresh, juicy burgers with a seasoning blend that adds a little heat
Want Fries With That? Yep; herb-coated fries are more interesting than your average fry. Tots are good and crunchy too
Price: Nader burger, $9.25; add cheese, $1; add Neuske's bacon, $2; mozzarella sticks, $7.99
One of the most exciting things about writing for AHT is coming across little places that make a great burger, but are relatively unknown. When that happens, I feel like I stumbled upon a great secret that I can share with my fellow Milwaukeeans.
A coworker of mine told me I could get a great burger at Henry's, a small bar on the East Side. I had never heard of the place, so I started my usual research, aka Googling. I couldn't find much about it, besides the fact that it's been around for decades, they supposedly make a mean bloody Mary, and, according to a few mentions on Yelp, that they had a great burger. They don't even have a website beyond Facebook. But that was all good enough to spark my curiosity and give them a shot.
Good thing I did, because they serve quite a good burger and definitely shouldn't be overlooked or unknown. Their menu includes two burgers: the Nader burger, named for its creator, and a less jazzed-up version. My intention was to try both and compare them, as the Nader burger is "kicked up" with a special blend of spices in the beef, but due to a miscommunication with our server, I ended up with two Nader burgers. But no matter, since the Nader burger is delicious.
The secret spices seem to include garlic and cayenne. There was just enough of them to tell you there was more than beef and salt, but the flavors didn't get anywhere near overpowering the meat or resulting in the dreaded meatloaf effect. It was a great balance of seasonings that enhanced the fresh, hand-pattied beef instead of distracting from it.
Both burgers were cooked to the requested temperature, medium rare and medium in this case, and had well-defined grill marks. Juice flowed out of the half-pound patties when I cut them in half, and the slightly dry, buttered and toasted bun did a good job of sopping it all up.
Each burger came with a generous slice of red onion, tomato, and the usual leaf of lettuce. For an extra dollar you can get your burger topped with perfectly melted Swiss or cheddar. Don't pass up the addition of rich, smokey Neuske's bacon; it's well worth the $2 upcharge.
If you're in the mood for nostalgia, you can get tater tots with your burger. The fries are better, however, with an herb coating that makes them more interesting than the usual frozen fry. Beer battered mozzarella sticks were boring and bland; skip them.
This little bar serves a burger that is one of the city's best kept secrets. If you're willing to overlook spotty (though friendly!) service and some sub-standard options on the menu, you will be rewarded with a unique and delicious burger.
About the author: Lacey Muszynski is an editor, freelance writer and restaurant reviewer from Milwaukee, WI. When she's not burgerblogging on AHT, she might be updating her food blog, making fun of the Food Network, or wondering what her art degree has to do with all of this. Her idols growing up included Martin Yan, Chairman Kaga, and whoever was on Great Chefs, Great Cities that day.