Wedl’s Hamburger Stand and Ice Cream Parlor has been open continuously since 1915. The larger building is the Ice Cream Parlor. All of the burgers (up to 600 a day) come out of the Hamburger Stand on the street corner.
A lot of the challenges with this road trip were COVID-19 related. It could be that a restaurant was open with different operating hours than normal, or a restaurant that was just closed, or one that didn’t open for the season, as they normally would. We originally headed to Wisconsin after a couple of music festivals canceled and we had already planned on being somewhere that week. From the food standpoint, almost everything I had on my list was a burger joint.
I was fine with that. A burger is a thing that can be ordered, picked up and carried out readily, from most anywhere. Today, as we headed towards downtown Madison to look at the waterfront, I had three burger joints on my list.
You’d think it would be simple to find a place to grab something at noon on a Thursday. Not so fast there, buddy. Looking more closely, one of the restaurants I had listed was only open for dinner, so that one was automatically out. OK, two to go. The second, a tavern, when I looked them up online was only doing carry out, and only doing it in the evening, as opposed to their usual full day service. Strike two. So we went to the third tavern, which posted the hours of 11 to 11, but when we arrived, the parking lot was very empty. There were a couple of lit beer signs in the windows, but it looked pretty dark otherwise. I walked around to the front door and saw several days’ worth of newspapers stacked up there. It appears they were closed unexpectedly. Strike three.
So we headed farther east, to the town of Jefferson Wisconsin. I had a place on my list there from the original Hamburger America book. As we started driving, I googled their phone number and called to make sure they were open. When I got a “hello, how can I help you?”, I asked for their hours and on our way we went.
We called again, as we got closer, to place our orders. When we arrived, we parked in the lot next-door to the burger stand, and I went to the back porch to pick them up. We then found a little park in town down by the river and had a picnic there. One of the items on the menu, was loaded jumbo tater tots. “We’ll take one of those”. Who can resist tater tots?
We thought the “loaded” tots would be like “loaded” nachos, so we were a bit surprised with what we found when we opened the bag. This was not an tray of tots, covered in bacon and cheese and scallions. Rather, there were jumbo tots filled with bacon, cheese and scallions. Excellent. I took a photo next to one of the burgers to add perspective.
The burger themselves were 1/6 pound patties, cooked on a griddle that is closed to 100 years old. The buns were white and squishy and they don’t offer an option of lettuce and tomato, although you can have either raw or grilled onions. My beloved had a cheeseburger.
I went wild and ordered the Pizza Burger – two patties, with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese melted between the burgers, and served with a side of pizza sauce. It was different and interesting.
I guess the third strike isn’t the end of every adventure.