Fred's Bar in Burlington, WI

2008/12/04 17:19:54

"Seriously, the burgers at Tessaro's were among the best I've ever had, including (but not limited to) Paradise Pup here in Des Plaines, Fred's Bar in Burlington, Wisconsin (home of the self proclaimed "World's Best Hamburger"), and The Nook (where they make their version of the Jucy Lucy; The Nookie), in Minneapolis" --Buddy Roadhouse

I want top thank Mr. Roadhouse for leading me the way to Fred's parkview in historic downtown Burlington, also known as "Chocolate City" because it is the home to Nestle. Well its not just the home to chocolate but also one of the best burgers in the world and NFL superstar Tony Romo as well as River Valley ranch Mushroom Farm and their amazing five cheese garlic spread. So theres alot going on in this little town that resembles most of America and the burger is the star of the show, the Dallas Cowboy's QB and boyfriend of Jessica Simpson isn't even a close second and he'd be the first to tell you that.

Fred's Parkview from across the street

Fred's is your typical Wisconsin bar with some not so average food. Its a very loungey and relaxing place to stop in for a beer and a bite to eat. The walls are decked out in Packers memorabilia along with tons of Tony Romo pictures and stories as well as stories about the burger from different print publications around the country.

When me and my friend entered the bar the bartender was quick to greet us and make sure we knew the deal since she most likely assumed we weren't from there with my Bears hat on. You seat yourself and write out your order on a pad at each table and hand it to the bartender who then brings it into the kitchen. When I got the tour of the back kitchen there are boxes and boxes of fresh Idaho potato's stacked up to the walls. A good sign, no?

Fred's homemade chips with Cajun seasoning and Fred's homemade curly fries...both were excellent.

Spotted Cow on tap...whoweee!

But the star of the show here is the burger. Its a fresh ground (daily) 1/2 lb patty sprinkled with a little spice secret and then griddled until cooked perfect. They top it with a fresh homemade bun from a bakery down the street that is buttered and crisped on the griddle. They offer a wide range of cheeses but I had to go with good old American and grilled onions with pickles. This is Wisconsin, also available is a double, yes a double with bacon if you time.

If you could scratch and sniff this photo, you would be in heaven like I was when it arrived. I knew it was going to be the real deal just by the smell and love put into it.

Its so hard to declare one burger the "best ever" because there are so many variations and so many good ones across the country. How good was it? maybe and most likely the best I ever ate. It was my favorite large sized burger cooked on a griddle that I can remember, the best bar burger I can remember and the best burger in all of Wisconsin that I can remember and I lived and drove around the state for 4 years in college eating stuff like burgers and brats. There was a framed newspaper clipping from the local paper the day Tony Romo signed his hefty contract to become one of the NFL's highest paid players the headline was...

"Romo signs deal worth 22 million Fred's"

I got a chance to meet Fred who was arriving as we were finishing up and he was as nice as could be as well as all his employees and all the regulars. They treated us well despite our Bears loyalty and it made the experience all the better. Its easy to see why Tony Romo is one of the nicest and most down to earth athletes out there.

The best thing about this place is its closeness in proximity to so many other good eats in Wisconsin, which is just full of them. Burlington is about a 20 minute ride from Kenosha and halfway between Kenosha and Lake Geneva. Kenosha is filled with great spots to stop at and the fact the River Valley ranch is also in Burlington makes it a regular in my rotation those days I just get in the ride and drive. I can stock up on RVR five cheese garlic spread, Spotted Cow, groceries from Woodman's like micro brewed mustards and kringles and Italian meats and cheese's from Tenuta's and grab a beer and burger from Fred's. Thats an area rich, rich, rich in food.

596 N Pine St.
Burlington / WI 53105
Phone:(262) 763 8370
Ort. Carlton.
Filet Mignon
RE: Fred's Bar in Burlington, WI 2008/12/04 18:11:13
King T,
Not only do you describe the great burger perfectly, you photograph it just as well. You makin' me HONGRY, and I just done et. Golly zonk, Batman!
Spotted Cow on draft... hmmm, that's a new one on me. Fact is, I recognized the Guinness tap handle, but many of the others were as foreign to me as Guinness Extra Stout from Nigeria. We have a plethora of great microbeers here in Georgia, but Wisconsin appears to have a boatload of 'em that I've never heard of.
Thanks for a great post, and welcome to Roadfood.
Gratefully, Ort. Carlton in Faraway Athens, Georgia.
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Fred's Bar in Burlington, WI 2008/12/05 07:50:52
King T,
Great job on the photos and descriptions. Did you notice the train tracks a half block away from Fred's? I used to work for that railroad and spent a lot of time in Burlington, and eaten many times that very burger you photographed. The train crews liked them too. Sometimes, if their train was short enough to not block crossings in the town, the crew would call ahead to Fred's on their cell phones and place an order to go, then stop the engine right there and run in to pick up. I'd love to get back there for another one.

You also mentioned other things about interesting little Burlington, but did not mention the Sun Ray Nudist Camp a few miles out of town. No, I've never been there, but the lady that runs it told me they have barn dances, which gave me an image I'm still trying to get out of my head.

And there is a plaque somewhere on the main drag which announces that this is the home of the Burlington Liar's Club, who gives an award each year to the best tall tale. I have a Liar's Club membership card in my wallet, which can be had for a dollar and an SASE. When I sent them the buck, they sent the card back with a note that said, "We can't believe anyone would actually give us money for this, but OK, here you go."

And you mentioned other things you can buy in Wisconsin -- you know, you could pick up a Packer's cap........
RE: Fred's Bar in Burlington, WI 2008/12/05 13:18:42
Thank you for the thank you, oh great and glorious King! Just as a side note to my original quote, since our visit to The Nook, we have finally completed the Jucy Lucy triumvirate of Matt's (the first place we hit), The Nook (second), and (finally) the 5-8 Club; all of which claim to have either invented, or at the very least, carry "the best" Jucy Lucy in town (that town would be Minneapolis/St. Paul for the uninitiated).

While I don't want to hijack this thread, let me just state quickly that after sampling all three versions, Dad and and I agreed that the 5-8 Club and The Nook had the best renditions, with 5-8 narrowly taking the prize. Matt's was a good burger served in a neighborhood time capsule, but the other two definitely were a notch above. Better beef making up the burger, more cheese stuffed into the middle, better fries, better atmosphere, too.

Glad you enjoyed Fred's. I hope you get to visit some of the other places I mentioned (obviously, as a local, you've been to Paradise Pup).

I'm working on a spring fling tour idea for the Milwaukee/Chicago contingent (details around the first of the year), it would be great if you would join us!


5-8 Club
5800 Cedar Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55417
(612) 823-5858

The Nook
492 Hamline Ave S
St Paul, MN 55116
(651) 698-4347

Matts Bar
3500 Cedar Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
(612) 722-7072
Filet Mignon
RE: Fred's Bar in Burlington, WI 2008/12/05 18:00:21
A number of us Roadfooders made the trek to Fred's last summer. I made up a Photoshow (it remains my only one) If you'd like to see it, check out If you are at work you may want to turn your speakers down as it has background music.
Filet Mignon
RE: Fred's Bar in Burlington, WI 2008/12/30 13:48:56
Last Night at Fred's

Bobbi & I drove into Illinois yesterday for some bigtime post-Christmas shopping.  On the way back our GPS took us up Hwy 31 and was pointing us to Lake Geneva.  Somehow the car veered towards Burlington where it unexpectedly stopped at Fred's Tony Romo Tribute Bar & Burger Emporium.  The place was full but we did find seats at the bar.  We had a view of the kitchen and got to watch the constant flow of meat on and off the griddle.

The one bartender barely had time to take our order, but when we talked to him he said he had never seen a Monday that was so busy.  It was so busy that they ran out of meat and had to send someone out to buy more.

A local basketball team was clustered around one table.  I really liked the sight of a dozen High School athletes eating in a bar without a single eyebrow being raised.  It had a Happy Days feel to it.  Good kids there to eat good food with no thought of sneaking alcohol.

The burgers and cheese-fries were outstanding.  I didn't have a camera, but my pictures wouldn't be as good as KingT's anyway.  Bobbi had an Almond Joy to drink - coconut rum, Amaretto and hot chocolate.  It was really good.

I also bowed 3 times to the image of the Great Romo before I left.

Double Cheeseburger
RE: Fred's Bar in Burlington, WI 2008/12/30 14:13:51
Been there many NEVER disappoints!!