Of These Four Restaurant Happy Hour Burgers, Which One Is Best?

It’s a clash of the patties.


From the first to the last bite, The Diplomac from The Diplomat is a masterpiece. Like the McDonald’s Big Mac in spirit and far surpassing it in quality, this hefty double-fister features two succulent prime beef patties topped with tomato, lettuce, Thousand Island dressing, pickles and red onion. And what brings it all home is the buttery homemade sesame seed bun, lightly toasted.

Mon 4-10 p.m.; Tues-Fri 4-6 p.m.
815 E. Brady St.


The cooks at Merriment Social change the toppings on this brainchild each week, but two basics are the same – the juicy quarter-pound beef patty and toasted house-made milk bun. What you’re seeing here is a very juicy patty melt with pickled sweet corn, beef cheek marmalade and ramp salsa verde. Extra credit for thinking creatively.

Tues-Fri 4-6 p.m.

240 E. Pittsburgh Ave.


This sets the bar for a budget burger. Loaded with flavor, rich and fatty in all the right ways, Birch + Butcher’s double cheeseburger uses to full effect some house-made touches – a dark-grain, sweet sesame-seed bun, bacon jam, a ground sirloin/steak-trim patty and house-made red-beet ketchup. The cheese has ranged from creamy Widmer’s spread to earthy cheddar-blue hybrid Roelli Red Rock. Seasonal topping variations are coming this summer.

Mon-Fri 4-6 p.m., only at the bar.
459 E. Pleasant St.


Fauntleroy’s Grand Royale With Cheese is the closest visual match to a Big Mac – two thin beef (brisket) patties, shredded lettuce, melted cheese (not processed American but nicely fatty-creamy German butterkäse), sliced pickles and a Thousand Island-like sauce on a sesame seed bun. It’s a solid effort, the haute version of a fast food icon. Plus, “Royale With Cheese” is a riff on a scene (about European McDonald’s) in the classic film Pulp Fiction.

Mon-Fri 4-6 p.m.
316 N. Milwaukee St.

“Clash of the Patties” appears in the August 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning August 1, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.