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

Back to