This review is another installment of my occasional mini-series, Burgers Abroad, in which I review burgers outside of Central Indiana. Click the link in the previous sentence to see other installments!
The Indy Burger Guy visited Monk’s Bar & Grill in Wisconsin Dells on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.
One of my favorite parts of going on vacation is trying a lot of local restaurants that I can’t try in Indiana. In fact, before I travel, I usually do a quick Google search for “best burgers in [insert destination here]” so I can be sure that I’m going to be sampling one of the very best burgers that my vacation spot has to offer.
And that was how I came across Monk’s Bar & Grill. A Wisconsin chain that started in the Wisconsin Dells back in 1947, where it quickly became a staple before becoming a franchise branching out across the state. The franchise stands as a beacon for fans of University of Wisconsin athletics, replete with jerseys and Badger memorabilia adorning the walls. And, more in line with my interests, it was named as home of one of the best burgers in Wisconsin by Thrillist. So, seeing as I was going to be in town, I thought I’d stop by for a taste test of the “Original Monkburger” – their Classic Cheeseburger.
And, in all honesty, this is a tasty burger! The half-pound patty comes cooked “to order” (‘pink or no pink’ – ugh!) and topped with melted American cheese (though you can upgrade to a premium Wisconsin cheese for just a dollar more). Optional toppings like leaf lettuce, a slice of beefsteak tomato, and onions – either grilled or raw – can be added at no extra charge. I opted for the grilled onions and was glad I did – the diced onions are sauteed and placed between the meat and the melted cheese to make sure each bite includes some oniony goodness. Housemade dill pickle slices are served on the side of each burger and sandwich on Monk’s menu. Additionally, you are given the option of one of two sides – potato chips (or “chippers”) and beer-battered french fries (which reminded me a lot of the great fries at Indy’s Stacked Pickle chain, which – with its sports bar vibe – is not dissimilar from Monk’s, truth be told).
The burger was far juicier than I expected, especially given the imprecise ‘pink-or-no-pink’ qualifying question. In fact, there was a small puddle of burger juices next to my fries by the time I finished the burger. The ingredients were all fresh, though I found the beef to be a bit under-seasoned.
The biggest demerit I can levy against this burger, though, is the choice of bun. At first look, it seems like the perfect possible option – pillowy and soft, the kind of bun I’m used to finding on the Butterburgers at Culver’s. But then, about halfway through, the bottom bun cracked, causing literally a quarter of the burger to liberate itself from the rest of the sandwich. As a result, my final bites were less burger awesomeness and more veggie sandwich, which was disappointing to say the least. Between that and the overwhelming juiciness, the eatability score was not high on this one.
That being said, this is certainly a worthy burger and definitely worth checking out should you find yourself near one of its six Wisconsin locations.
FINAL RANKINGS: 80/100
Monk’s Bar & Grill
various Wisconsin locations
Cost Range: $$–$$$ ($7-$11; $12 and over)