I’ll almost always stop at a place that’s been open for three decades or more, especially if they brag about it. Since around 1917, Wedl’s have been serving burgers griddled on a flattop, in lard and onions, in the tiny burg of Jefferson, Wisconsin, on US Highway 18 between Madison and Milwaukee. I understand that the place has gone through a number of owners during their nearly one century of operation, but locals say the recipes and methods haven’t changed in all those years.
As the burgers are cooked and served from an 8 x 8 wood shack on the sidewalk, the business is only open seasonally.
They’ve recently purchased the adjacent building and can now offer indoor seating as well as some ice cream on the side.
Burgers are available in one, two, or three patties, and of course with your choice of cheese, bacon and the like. Condiments are left up to you from bins and bottles on the counter. Fries, rings and a few other menu items are available.
You order from either the new building or the shack window, if you are ‘dining in’ (or al fresco), they will bring you your order when it’s ready, but it seems like the majority of customers are grabbing sacks to go. A single burger clocks in at under $2.00, and while other diners have described these as “sliders”, they most certainly are not, easily topping the size and weight of your standard McDonald’s burger.
The chef-du-jour takes a fist full of fresh ground beef, puts it on the sizzling flattop, and smashes it, where it cooks quickly. Fresh large-chopped white onions are being sauteed next to and around the burger patties; cook seems to be able to handle about 20 or more patties at a time.
The buns are soft, but firm enough to hold the burger. Some dash of “secret seasoning” and your hamburg sandwich is ready for consumption. I tried both a plan and a cheese, and I have to say, these are some of the best hamburgers I have had in year. I liked the texture of the grind, the seasoning, and the bun. I added my usual dill pickle chips and yellow mustard as condiments, though the burger doesn’t really need any help. Ordinary crinkle cut fries are….ordinary, but a nice side nonetheless.
I drove a couple hours out of my way to hit this place, and it was worth it. I might just drive a few hours out of my way on a regular basis for the rest of my Midwest visit!