The Little Marinara and I were in Milwaukee the other day and fortunately it was around lunchtime. We both had the urge to clog our arteries and what better place to do that than at Solly’s on Port Road. Solly’s in some respects is a timeless institution. Originally started on Green Bay Ave it is now in its third location on Port Washington Road, just South of Hampton. The Little Marinara has been going there since she was a young tomato and I have been going there with her for the last 30 years. The building may change but the employees and food are iconic. Kris and Anna have been working there for over 35 years and it is always fun to discuss our kids and the old days. I love the sign over the cash register; “Our credit manager is Helen Waite, if you want credit go to Helen Waite.” This came from the Green Bay Ave location; however, times have changed, Solly’s now accepts credit cards. Progress – you be the judge!
Solly’s is not a fancy restaurant, it is a lunch counter, you wait in line until a seat opens up and then sit down. This is part of the unique character of the place. On any given day you can find the full demographic of Milwaukee sitting next to each other enjoying some of the best burgers know to man.
For Wisconsin this is a close as it comes to diner food. To be very honest in the 30 years I have been going there The Little marinara and I have always ordered the same thing – two cheeseburgers with onions, fries and a chocolate malt. So why do we crave these little bites of heaven? Just look at the pictures while I deconstruct what I consider to be the best burger on the planet. In my opinion it is all about the onions. They stew their onions in their own juice in a double boiler – no additives. The burger is always of a consistent size and fried on the hot top, then the onions are ladled on top; it is covered in one slice of American cheese and then covered with a pot top until the cheese is melted, in the interim the bun is lightly toasted. Here is the best part. The completed burger is placed on the bun and it is topped with at least two tablespoons of salted WI butter, the top is put in place and it is sliced through the middle. Simple but complex in flavor, add to this great fries and a homemade chocolate malted milk – we are talking real ice crème and real malt, served with the blender cup. If you are watching you weight you can get a Fanta Red Cream Soda to wash down the butter. Actually if your are concerned about your weight don’t come here, go to some organic shop and munch on a salad with yogurt dressing.
If you have butter running down you arms it was a good day at Solly’s. I am sure that at the end of the day when they close there is a sigh of relief from every cardiologist in Milwaukee. If I were going to die tomorrow this is what I would want to eat. Two Cheeseburgers with – on one – with fries and a chocolate malt. Like the Little Marinara says “If this isn’t the best cheeseburger in world I don’t know where the hell you will find it.”