Although this food item originated in Germany, no trip to Wisconsin is complete without a traditional bratwurst. From Sheboygan, to Madison and Milwaukee, here are 10 of the best places to indulge in an authentic bratwurst in a bun.
As the name suggests, this sports bar specializes in brats – and if a Badger’s game is on, that’s only a bonus. In this classic den, absorb the rowdy student atmosphere and acknowledge that this is the place where diets come to die. There are five pork bratwursts on offer at State Street Brats, with the ‘world’s best brat’ being a two-time gold medal winner. If pork’s not your thing though, find your fill from myriad other options, from buffalo country wings drenched in sauce, to traditional Wisconsin cheese curds and handout shoestring fries. For the ultimate experience, wash it all down with a pint of ice-cold beer.
Situated in the heart of the Wisconsin Dells, Brat House Grill is located in a casual venue in a former church. As well as the usual American fare, the sports bar really excels in its brats and dogs. For a traditional Wisconsin experience, you won’t go wrong with the cheese brat, a sausage stuffed with the state’s cheddar cheese. Alternatively, order the jalapeño polish brat, a mushroom and swiss cheese option, or the BHG big brat. It packs half a pound of traditional bratwurst with a big bun. You’ll be pleased to know that all brats are served with parmesan or hot chips.
A visit to Milwaukee’s downtown simply doesn’t come complete without a traditional brat and Milwaukee Brat House prides itself on the very best. Every day of the week, the restaurant offers a large variety of food and drink specials, which can be enjoyed in a historical building with close ties to the industrial revolution of the early 20th century. Looking to the menu, pick from a long list of world famous sausages with a variety of mouthwatering toppings. While there are traditional options, the establishment also prides itself on more adventurous options such as The Farwell, a brat serve with a delicious mix of sautéed onions, roasted poblano peppers, bacon and melted pesto gouda cheese. Note that if you’re really struggling to make a choice, you can opt for the brat house sausage sample. This is a delectable selection of bratwurst, Italian, hot Hungarian and Polish sausage, sliced and sautéed with onions, sauerkraut and mushrooms.
Restaurant, American, Pub Grub, Beer, Wine, Vegetarian, Fast Food, $$$
The Old Fashioned, Madison | Courtesy of Old Fashioned
For years, retro tavern The Old Fashioned has stood in the shadow of Madison’s majestic Capitol building and has been serving fantastic Wisconsin fare, taking care to source meats and ingredients from local producers. From fish fries, wood-fired chicken, succulent prime ribs, loaded salads and unforgettable sandwich options, diners certainly won’t leave hungry. If sausages are what you’re after, select a beef hot dog from Baranek’s Farm Fresh Beef in Crivitz, served with a toasted bun from the local bakery. Add sauerkraut, raw onions, pickle relish and authentic Dusseldorf mustard, before deciding on a chilled beverage. The drinks menu has more than 150 varieties of bottled and tapped beers and IPAs.
The Charcoal Inn may not look like much from the outside, but once seated, visitors are quick to realize why exactly this joint has been repeatedly named as one of Sheboygan’s best diners. After all, this is Wisconsin’s no-frills delicious food at its best. In particular, the joint is renowned for its world-famous Sheboygan bratwurst sandwich, infused with spices and left to sizzle to perfection over a smoky charcoal fire. As well as being generous with the toppings, what makes the sausages exceptional is the way that they are prepared. They are sliced, laid flat and served with lots of butter. For those who want to try something else, the steak and chicken breast sandwiches will also ensure diners don’t leave hungry.
Another establishment in Sheboygan, Gosse’s has been operating for more than 30 years, calling Northwestern House its home for the last 15. Serving casual American-style cuisine, the family-orientated menu here ranges from exceptional steak sandwiches and hamburgers, to grilled chicken dinners and split open double brats. All meals are served with generous portions of butter, pickles and onions. Finish off your meal with one of the tortes, whipped-cream confections that are the definition of a Midwestern dessert.
At The Wicked Grille, hungry diners will be pleased with the menu specializing in signature gourmet burgers. Served with a Sheboygan hard roll and handmade beef patties, they repeatedly bring the crowds in from the local watering holes. However, brats are also on offer, ranging from the Chicago dog, Detroit dog and the brat platter. The latter offer two grilled Johnsonville bratwurst served on a choice of bratwurst buns or rolls. If you’re passing by on Friday however, the delicious fish fry won’t go amiss either.
Since 2010, Big Daddy’s Dogs has been seasonally serving weekly sandwich specials in the Chippewa Falls area and Lake Wissota. Despite delicious offerings of pulled pork, Italian beef and Philly cheesesteak, it is the hot dogs at this unpretentious little joint that really stand out. Pop by for a quick bite to eat and check out the selection of juicy brats, from chili dogs to Chicago varieties. These guys are also regulars at the local Wissota Meat Market.
OSS Madison, or Old School Sausages, succeeded in re-imagining one of the state’s greatest comfort foods, giving locally sourced bratwursts a twist with gourmet toppings and sauces. Currently, there are 10 options on offer, everything from the classic bratwurst, to the smoked variety. Alternatively, opt for more adventurous sausages, such as the veal or the spicy chorizo brat. Pair this with toppings ranging from sauerkraut, caramelized onions, sautéed peppers, relish or local shredded cheese. You’ll have yourself an exceptional bratwurst experience.
As the name suggests, Hot Dog Avenue is perhaps one of the best place to get your sausage fix in the Wisconsin Dells. Run by a Chicago dog enthusiast, there are eight varieties on offer here, from the famous Chicago dog, to the child Texas dog. There is also the Italian beef, gyros, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and burgers to cater to every taste. For those on the move or wanting to satisfy the kids, pick from one of the meal deals which also include fries and a fountain drink.