The Search For The Perfect Burger Ends In Wisconsin

The hamburger is America’s classic comfort food and everyone usually has their favorite place to go when they are feeling the urge to indulge themselves with a burger and fries. These favorite places might be a large fast food chain such as Mickey D’s or a more local chain such as California’s In-N-Out Burger. Or it could be a burger crafted from Kobe beef and sold at an expensive restaurant such as Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse.

For my family (parents,sister and brothers and our respective spouses), there has always been only one hamburger stand that has been near and dear to our hearts as well as our stomachs and that is Pete’s Hamburgers in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.  You could say that Pete’s specializes in burgers because well…it is the only thing on the menu. Their burgers are the only thing that you can purchase there other than a bag of chips or a can of “pop” as it is referred to back in the Midwest. You won’t see a french fry or hot dog anywhere near the stand.  And that is just A- Ok with all of us because you really don’t need anything else. They are just that good!

I am not quite sure what it is about these burgers. It could be the quality of beef that they buy, the fresh bakery buns or the fact that they are cooked with extremely high heat simmered in water and onions. And this is a warning, you will not be satisfied with just one. So you better order two and order them at the same time. Pete’s operates out of a small stand and has only one large cooking surface. The hamburgers are cooked 48 at a time and once they are gone, you will have to stand there and wait for them to cook the next batch. They are well worth the wait.

Pete’s Hamburger Stand has been open for over 100 years and its history is well documented on their website. They have existed at their current location since before I was born and our family has been enjoying their famous burgers since the 1950’s. We love to meet at the stand when they first open at 11 a.m. (there are really long lines as the day progresses) get our burgers and go down to the local park on the Mississippi. In addition to the burgers, my sister usually brings her famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and we have the closest thing to a family picnic with out the hard work and cleanup that you can have!

Due to Wisconsin’s cold winters, Pete’s is opened May through the beginning of October. They are also only opened Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

My family is not the only ones that are fond of these burgers. On this Sunday night, September 2nd, the Travel Channel will be featuring Pete’s Hamburger Stand on the Burger Land: Wisconsin’s Burger Belt.  If you have a chance, check it out.

In the meantime, what is your favorite burger place?

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  1. Chardonnay says

    Now I’m hungry! The burgers are simmered in water? Interesting. I will have to make sure I tune into the travel channel on Sunday.

  2. Regina says

    They are the best! My husband has tried to create the “Pete’s Burger” here at home many times and never been successful. I always thought that our love for them was from growing up in the area and it was just a locals spot, but when we moved down here in 1990 some of my co-workers asked me to bring them back Pete’s when I was headed back for the weekend.
    We have seriously thought about opening a branch of Pete’s up in Green Bay Wisconsin and just work on Game Days! I think the key is being able to smell them two blocks away and standing in line for 20 plus minutes to get one.

  3. Deborah says

    I want me some Pete’s!!!
    The best burger place I’ve been too is 5 Guys but it pales in comparison to how you describe Pete’s.

  4. Rosemary says

    When I was pregnant with my son, many years ago, I craved cheeseburgers from a local drive thru. I still like a good cheeseburger, but they are hard to find. None of the fast food places can compare. When I make hamburgers/cheeseburgers at home just for me, I add onions to the meat (grandchildren do not like it that way). I have never tried simmering a burger in water, but with the onions, it sounds tasty.

  5. Pam@IW says


    If you go on there website you can see how they make them with the onions and water. Throughout the cooking process they poor more water around them. Prior to cooking, the meat is rolled in balls. I am not sure if they put any type of flavoring in the meat. They drop the meat on the cooking surface and smoosh them down (is the a cooking term? LOL) and then poor water over them and place a huge ball of onions next to them.

  6. Rosemary says

    Thanks Pam: Kind of like making a hamburger steak, but leaving out the flour for the gravy. I do not know if “smoosh” is a cooking term or not, but I knew what you meant.

  7. PattyPie says

    I am pretty sure smoosh is a cooking term! If I ever find myself in Wisconsin I am going to have one of these burgers!! SOmething tells me that after this show airs the line up is going to be even a bit longer!

  8. Lily@IW says

    When I was pregnant with my son, many years ago, I craved cheeseburgers from a local drive thru. ~Rosemary

    I don’t really eat burgers all that much. When I do, I love them char-grilled and I love the occasional White Castle. These sound and look good. Local places are the best. At the end of my first pregnancy, I craved cheese enchiladas and chocolate malts. Both from local eateries. The taco place is long gone, I would love another one of their enchiladas. There is a nearby rootbeer drive-in that has been around forever. They make their own rootbeer. You always have to get some to go. It would go great w/these burgers.

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