Wedl's Hamburgers & Ice Cream Parlor, Jefferson

Wedl’s Hamburger Stand, Jefferson

Wedl's outdoor burger stand

64 square feet of hamburger heaven at Wedl’s in Jefferson, along US 18 just east of Business Highway 26.

Along U.S. 18 right by the city/”business” route of Highway 26, you’ll find that good things come in small packages. Wedl’s, perhaps one of the smallest burger stands in the nation, is ready to provide small, tasty burgers using a cast iron skillet over a century old. All from a building that measures about 64 square feet.

Wedl’s Hamburger Stand & Ice Cream Parlor is a combination burger grill and ice cream shop in downtown Jefferson with roots that go back to the shop’s original opening in 1916. The outdoor stand opened three years later. Ownership has changed through the years; previous names for the Wedl’s include Becker’s (1949-1974) and Armstrong’s (1974-2002). The seasoned cast iron skillet, an original, dates back over 100 years; it was launched into the street when an 80-year-old driver plowed into the small stand in 1999. While the stand was destroyed, the two employees inside were not seriously injured. The grill was found about a half block down the street, restored, and put back into service after a rebuild.

Wedl's Burger Stand in Jefferson, right off the more than century-old grill

This cast iron skillet, over 100 years old, seasons and cooks the tasty little burgers at one of tastiest burger stands in the country: Wedl’s in Jefferson.

Wedl’s offers their burger slider-style. The meat patties are around 1/8 pound, so a “double” is 1/4 pound. As described by Robby Wedl, manager and part owner, they start with a big mound of lard in the morning. They add the patties as orders come in, add onions and cheese when people want them, and they gradually use up all the lard. And that’s a big reason these burgers taste so good: old-fashioned lard.  It’s not the lightest way you can cook up a burger, but there’s no doubt it’s natural and delicious. And a little greasy sometimes.

Cheese, bacon, and either raw or fried onions are your choices for toppings when Wedl’s serves you; no lettuce or tomatoes. They do offer condiments and pickles you can add yourself, though, on the metal tray in front of the pick-up window. You can also get pizza burgers and – from the other kitchen inside – fish or chicken sandwhiches, hot dogs, brat, and the like. Sides range from onion rings and fries to jalapeno poppers and nachos. See their full menu here.

A double cheeseburger from Wedl's in Jefferson

Part-way through a double cheeseburger. They’re so good, you almost forget to take a picture.

Wedl’s is popular for carry-out orders. You can also eat inside the parlor or on the patio deck in the back on good weather days. You’ll find the stand right along U.S. 18/Racine Street, one block east of “Business” Highway 26 in downtown Jefferson. It’s also about a mile east of Highway 89 and the newer Highway 26 bypass. Either way, it’s definitely worth the stop!

Wedl’s Hamburgers & Ice Cream Parlor Address:

200 E. Racine Street (U.S. 18)
Jefferson, WI 53549
(920) 674-3637

Pete's Burger Stand, Prairie du Chien

Pete’s Hamburger Stand, Prairie du Chien

Ever had a poached burger? Pete’s, a legend in Prairie du Chien since 1909, has one of the most unusual burger cooking methods in America. And their burgers are so well loved, that’s the only thing on the menu. I mean sure, you can add chips and a soda, but that’s about it.

The origins of Pete’s date back to Pete Gokey, who would cook up hamburgers at local events. To help keep the burgers moist, he began pouring water on the flattop grill – and then flavoring that water with a pile of onions. Today, Pete’s Hamburger stand on Blackhawk Drive employs a flattop grill, onions, and water to cook smashed 4-oz balls of fresh beef in a narrow trailer along the street. They cook the burgers up 60-70 at a time, constantly smashing the patties and letting the burgers cook in the flavorful stew-like water on the grill. After about 12-15 minutes when they’re cooked – most end up well done – they dole them out to patient customers. And they come from miles around.

Pete's Burgers on the watery, oniony grill

Pete’s burgers sizzling on the flattop, stewing in water and onions for a unique and delicious flavor.

There are two ways to order burgers here: “With” or “Without”, referring to onions (all the burgers have a bit of an onion flavor because of the onion-y water they cook in, but you can have them add more stewed onions on top.) Pete’s doesn’t offer cheese on its burgers; I mean really, how are you going to properly melt cheese on a burger cooking in water? You’re welcome to add your own if you want, though – and they have the other toppings and condiments you may prefer. But really, a Pete’s plain on that small locally-make bakery bun is about as pure and tasty of a hamburger as you can get!

See more about Pete’s from this Burger Land: Wisconsin segment on the Travel Channel. Moreover, State Trunk Tour founder Eric Paulsen manned the grill at Pete’s for the Discover Wisconsin show… see how it works here!

You’ll find Pete’s on Blackhawk Drive in downtown Prairie du Chien, just north of Highway 27, a few blocks west of Highway 35, and two blocks north of U.S. 18 & Highway 60. The bridge to Iowa is mere blocks away, and all the action on St. Feriole Island from the Dousman House to Villa Louis is also close by.

Pete’s Hours:

May through October (through October 21 in 2018)
Friday 11am – 9pm
Saturday 11am – 9pm
Sunday 11am – 7pm

Pete’s Hamburger Stand Address:

118 W. Blackhawk Avenue
Prairie du Chien, WI 53821

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Brat Stop exterior sign

Brat Stop

Wisconsin loves brats, and Kenosha’s “World Famous” Brat Stop is among the best places in the state to enjoy them! This iconic location has been in business since 1961, when it was pretty much the only major place to eat along the rural U.S. 41, newly-minted I-94 at Highway 50. And they sell a ton of brats every week – literally.

The Brat Stop has long been heralded for its bratwurst, beer, cheese, and family-friendly atmosphere. It’s a large place, with a bakery, bar, music stage for live entertainment, huge TVs, pool, video games, rides for kids, and event space at their banquet facility, called the Parkway Chateau. Their Beer Garden is open whenever the weather allows; the food – they have a full menu – is fantastic, the beer selection is impressive, and you can get everything from a wide variety of cheese, baked goods, and Wisconsin accoutrements. This is makes is a perfect stop for people coming up from that place known as Illinois.

Brat Stop Details

Brat Stop is open 365 days a year and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with bratwurst of course being the top seller. Other popular Brat Stop dishes include Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds, Broasted Chicken,  their Reuben on Dark Rye, Pizzas, and the Brat Stop Prime Rib Dinner. Breakfast incorporate bratwurst.

The Brat Stop is a Live Music Venue, Too!
The Brat Stop’s huge bar is well-stocked and ready for shows, from local bands to national acts like Slaughter, Lonnie Brooks, The Charlie Daniels Band, Cheap Trick, Sugarland, Trace Adkins, Theory of a Deadman, and Jackyl. Check out their music lineup here!

The Brat Stop’s Cheese Mart opens at 8 a.m. with the rest of the place, and generally closes at 10 p.m. during the week, 11 p.m. on weekends. The products, and custom-made gift boxes, are available for shipping. Over 100 different cheeses, all from Wisconsin, are available. We’re talking Cheddar, Swiss, Brick, and specialty cheese, along with cheese spreads.

Like all good Wisconsin places popular with visitors, there’s a large selection of apparel, glassware, souvenirs, Brat Stop memorabilia, Cheesehead hats, and Bears and Packers merchandise – with this location SO close to Illinois, the proportion of Bears to Packers fans is such where they cater to both – with a lean towards the Green & Gold, of course. It’s definitely a fun place to catch the Packers-Bears and Brewers-Cubs (or White Sox) games.

The “World Famous” nature of the Brat Stop has led the likes of Bette Midler, Michael Jordan, and Steven Tyler to stop in. Sports announcers in town – for either Chicago or Milwaukee teams – tend to drop in when they’re traveling between the two cities.

The Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival – a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha – is held there every April. There’s a Toys For Tots fundraiser held each December, and a Polar Plunge for Special Olympics each winter, where they set up a pool outside.

As you travel to or through Kenosha, the Brat Stop is a MUST stop – a definite State Trunk Tour favorite! You’ll find it right along Highway 50 just west of the busy I-41/94 interchange. Enjoy!

12304 75th Street (Highway 50)
Kenosha, WI
(262) 857-2011

Mickey-Lu Bar-B-Q, Marinette, along U.S. 41

Classic “burger and a shake” deliciousness awaits at Mickey-Lu Bar-B-Q. Delighting Marinette residents and visitors alike since 1942, the “Bar-B-Q” in the name refers to the charcoal grilling technique they use for cooking burgers and grilling brats – you won’t find pulled pork or brisket here. But that’s okay, because these are some of the tastiest burgers you’ll ever find in an all-American joint that looks like a trip back in time on the inside.

Mickey-Lu Grill for burgers - and buns

We hope you like your buns grilled, too.

A Mickey-Lu burger, cross-sectioned so you can see the goodness.

A Mickey-Lu burger, cross-sectioned so you can see the goodness.

The burgers are fairly small, larger than White Castles but smaller than, say, a Whopper. But they pack serious flavor, stemming from the high-quality beef, onions, pickle, and a little pat of butter – plus the cheese if you want it. Of course you have a choice of many other toppings but the basics work so well with a Mickey-Lu burger. The Zemal hard rolls are fresh bakery buns that also see some time on the grill, adding a slight crunch to the bun and holding the burger into a tight, tasty package. It’s as close to burger perfection as you’ll find. They also start at less than two bucks each.

The charm of Mickey-Lu includes not only its small size and vibrant history, but all the little authentic touches: jukeboxes on the countertop and tables (plus an original floor model that plays 45s), classic bottles, cans, and packages on shelves, even a dispenser that lets any customer have a free Tootsie Roll – but be warned: if you want another one, it’ll cost you a penny, Mr. Moneybags.

Mickey-Lu in Marinette

Mickey-Lu tabletop jukebox

The tunes crank out of these little jukeboxes at Mickey-Lu. They don’t take credit cards and they’re not hooked up to Internet. Deal with it.

Mickey-Lu is right along U.S. 41 on the south side of Marinette, near the eastern start of Highway 64; Highway 180 begins nearby on the west side of town and follows the Menomonee River. Michigan is less than two miles away, and this place draws the Yoopers. Heck, it draws Chicagoans who view this four-hour drive as worth it.

1710 Marinette Avenue (U.S. 41)
Marinette, WI 54143
(715) 735-7721

The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor & Confectionery

One step into this old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream parlor, and you’re whisked back to an earlier, sweeter era. Everything from home-mixed ice cream in waffle cones made right in the store to scratch-made flavored soads and rich, tasty malts from the old-school Hamilton Beach mixer and the metal cup delights the senses. A wall of candies, chocolates, nuts, and other treats make this one of the more complete confectioneries you’ll find anywhere – it could be the 1930s in here!


lacrosse_thepearl04The Pearl is located right on (surprise!) Pearl Street in downtown La Crosse, right near the La Crosse Center. U.S. 53 begins just to the east; U.S 14/61 and Highways 16 and 33 are just a few blocks to the south; and Highway 35 is about a mile to the east. Basically, if you heard towards downtown La Crosse where all the bars, restaurants, shops, and nightlife are, you’re practically within eyeshot of The Pearl. It’s definitely a great, sweet stop.

The Pearl, waffle cone making

Want a fresh waffle cone? They don’t get any fresher than this!


I stocked up on candy cigs; you don’t find them around very often. Don’t worry, I paid for them.

207 Pearl Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 782-6655

Baumgartners in Monroe on the town square

Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern

Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern in Monroe is a State Trunk Tour favorite! A cheese shop and tavern established in 1931, Baumgartner’s is a highlight of any road trip, serving up selections of cheese, sausage, beer, and some terrific fresh sandwiches. Our favorite is the brick cheese and summer sausage on rye, especially if you take advantage of their variety of mustards. The house specialty is the limburger sandwich, featuring cheese direct from the only limburger cheesemaker in the United States: nearby Chalet Cheese Cooperative, which is only a few miles up the road.

Baumgartner's brick and summer sausage sandwich

Not the best lighting, but it IS one of the best sandwiches. Summer Sausage & Brick on Rye at Baumgartner’s.

The walls are adorned with murals, maps (check the pins indicating where people have visited from all over the world, especially Europe), and fascinating artwork while up top the ceiling is peppered with dollar bills, thrown up expertly by staff members who know how to incorporate a tack, a little weight, and a strong throw straight upward to help the donated bills stay there. About once a year, Baumgartner’s takes down the money and donates it to a different local charity.

Baumgartner's menu and taps


Dollar bills, embedded in the ceiling from skillful employees, hover over you in Baumgartner’s. Each year, the money is donated to a local charity.

A festive atmosphere often permeates Baumgartner’s, as does the scent of Limburger cheese when a hearty soul orders it as part of a sandwich. They have a variety of foods to enjoy, cheese and sausage to buy, and people to meet, as this is a destination for many tourists from around the world. Check out where they’re all from on large national and world maps that adorn the south wall.

Baumgartner’s is right on Monroe’s town square, which hugs the beautiful Green County Courthouse across the street. Minhas Brewery – and its new distillery and wine-tasting room – is just down the street. Highways 11, 59, 69, and 81 all bring you to Monroe and this tasty Wisconsin experience.

Baumgartner's Limburger sign in Monroe

Baumgartner’s Address:

1023 16th Avenue
Monroe, WI 53566
(608) 325-6157

Baumgartner's Cheese Store & Tavern front

The front entrance to Baumgartner’s, a destination for cheese and sausage (and beer) fans from around the world.