Milwaukee: Juicy, Properly Cooked Burgers at Dr. Dawg, a Chicago Dog Joint
6969 N. Port Washington Rd., Glendale WI 53217(map); 414-540-0400; drdawg.net
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Juicy, pub-style burgers at a fast casual restaurant with a menu of Chicago dogs and sausages
Want Fries With That? Hand cut fries are fantastic; try them tossed in rosemary and garlic, or topped with chili and a respectable cheese sauce
Price: Single burger, $5.99; double burger, $7.99; toppings, free-$1 each; bag of rosemary garlic fries, $4.99; chili cheese fries, $5.29
Where do you have to go in the Milwaukee area to get a good, fast-casual burger that's actually cooked to your requested temperature? A joint that specializes in Chicago-style sausages. The irony—that Wisconsinites would have to go to a Windy City-themed fast food restaurant on their own turf to find a burger that's not overcooked—is overwhelming. But, guys, trust me, Dr. Dawg has got it going on. If you must, just overlook the Green River soda in favor of the Sprecher root beer and pretend the skyline on the wall is Milwaukee.
Once you get over any (understandable) reservations related to our southern neighbors, you'll find a great burger. It's a cross between a fast food- and pub-style burger, and one of the best burgers you can find in a fast food type restaurant. The third-pound burgers are hand-pattied from Niman Ranch Angus beef, and, blissfully, aren't overcooked to death.
That means that the medium burger is juicy and succulent. In fact, even the double cheeseburger (below), cooked medium well, dripped juice into the paper boat upon first bite. The beef was packed loosely and only barely held together by the time I was down to my last bites, but I consider that a good sign. The beef's flavor was mild and could have used a bit more seasoning, but toppings and sauces certainly helped that along. The flavor from the grill was light and didn't overpower the meat.
Free toppings, including lettuce, tomato and raw onion, were generously portioned and the tomato was incredibly red for the season. Choose a cheese option that's got a bit more bite to it than the jalapeño jack, though; I couldn't taste it. The pickles were very thick and crunchy and might not appeal to someone used to sour dill slices, but they added a nice freshness. Bacon, while generally good and crisp, could have had a stronger flavor. The restaurant's signature Dawg sauce will appeal to buffalo wing lovers, but order it on the side to avoid soggy buns and to dip fries in.
You'll want a ton of fries. They're hand cut and fried to a nice crunch. Rosemary garlic fries are tossed with so much of the herb and garlic mixture that there's a layer of fried goodness at the bottom of the bag. The chili—think hot dog chili—that tops the chili cheese fries is thick and has just a little heat. While the cheese sauce was a bit grainy, I appreciated that it meant it had some real cheese in it and wasn't straight from a Sysco can. Pure indulgence food.
Though the sterile setting in a small strip mall area leaves a little to be desired, the large patio area and friendly staff help make it more hospitable. It's worth the drive to a north suburb for an inexpensive, high quality burger cooked the way you request—even if it's overrun with Cubs fans.
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.