As we planned our Wisconsin trip, I had a couple of burger joints lined up in neighboring Iowa. On this Tuesday, we had made the drive from Sping Green, over to the Field of Dreams, in Northeast Iowa. We had driven through Dubuque on the way and I made a plan for carry out from Paul’s Tavern (11 am – 2am / Tuesday – Saturday) on the way back to the campsite. Located in downtown Dubuque, Paul’s is a tavern, in the truest sense of the word. It’s a place for drinks, with a killer burger, on the side. I saw the signs about the “Big Game Trophies” and assumed there would be a couple of deer, elk and moose heads, along the wall.
Needless to say, there were more than a “few” heads lining the walls. Above is the non-bar side, below is the bar side. And there were more by the entrance. In my “reading up”, I found that all of the animals were shot by former owner, Paul Schollmeyer (including the polar bear, shot in 1966), and that he ran the bar until 1991. One thing you may notice in these photos is the incredible “tightness” of the space. There are booths along the left wall (walking in), with a thin aisle separating them from the bar. I had called in our order, so I walked to the end of the bar to pick it up.
The burgers are cooked on a Norge Broilator (new to the bar in 1948, according to Wauna-burger, Then Have a Burger – great blog, BTW – who got the info from the current owner’s brother), up to eight at a time. This device is like a salamander broiler, except when you close the door, the burgers are “cooked from above by indirect flame as they sizzle on the [2 foot by 1 foot] griddle”, according to Hamburger America.
The quarter pound 90/10 patties are then served on toasted white buns and served with yellow mustard, pickles and onions, only. They don’t have other condiments… This is a true tavern burger – added to the menu at Paul’s to keep people from quitting drinking to go eat, and a classic mid-American burger. Dive bar burger perfection. But a very clean dive bar.