A Search for Wisconsin's Best Sandwiches

By Jerry Huffman
Special to TravelWisconsin.com

From the world's smelliest cheese to deli-fresh, a hash brown sandwich to a peanut butter burger, these are some of the best Wisconsin meals you can get between two slices of bread!

Baumgartner’s Tavern – Monroe

Just above the bar in Baumgartner’s Tavern in Monroe is a sign that says, “Dont eat limburger with your nose.”  Truer words were never spoken. 

For the uninitiated, limburger is truly one of the worst smelling cheeses in the world. Fortunately, the “taste” of limburger is debatable. 

Baumgartner’s on Monroe’s main square has been serving limburger sandwiches since 1931 along with other daily specials, and is a combination cheese shop and tavern.

Served on rye bread with a slice of onion and your choice of brown, yellow, honey mustard or horseradish sauce, this white, soft cheese seems unassuming at first. If roses are number one on your aroma meter and your high school gym locker is number ten, a limburger sandwich is probably a number five. Okay, no worse than eight.

Sniff and chew. Yeah, it’s a strong cheese, but nothing that’s going to make me reveal nuclear launch codes to the Russians. But I did notice my pal Donal and his hot dog sliding further down the bar.

Insiders know: It’s worth the buck to find out how hundreds of dollar bills have ended up stuck to the ceiling. Baumgartner’s is definitely family-friendly.

Fraboni's Italian Specialties & Delicatessen – Madison and Monona

“Taste” is the key to a good sandwich according to Steve Fraboni, owner of the two delis named for the family.

Fraboni’s been making fresh lunchtime sandwiches since 1971. “Customers come here because they expect a better sandwich,” said Fraboni. “We don’t do fast. We do taste.”

Nine cold sandwiches are standard along with a hot Italian beef, meatball or seasoned pork. Hot soups and traditional deli salads are on tap, too.

Personal suggestion? Go for the Otto or Mufflatta. Either could change your life.

Insiders know: In the front of the Regent Street store is a counter and a few stools. Truly one of the best places in Madison to have lunch and  watch the world walk by.

Tom Sawyers Bar and Grill – La Crosse

There are certain icons that define LaCrosse: its native heritage; the Mississippi River; the stories of Mark Twain; and then there’s Bill Pritchard.

Pritchard is a financial whiz and the only person in Wisconsin we’re aware of to have a burger named after him. A peanut butter burger.

Bill went on a business trip and had experienced a great burger. Bill told his pal Dan Nelson about it. Nelson owns Tom Sawyer’s, a restaurant along the Black River. Dan has two things to his advantage; he knows a good sandwich idea and has a wicked sense of humor. So the “Bill Pritchard Burger” was born.

It’s a half-pounder on a square bakery bun with bacon and lightly grilled pickles. Mayo on half the bun and smooth peanut butter on the other half.

“I think it’s the combination of the peanut butter on one side and mayo on the other,” said Pritchard. “It just works.”

Insiders Know: The Black River feeds into the Mississippi River. Go for a walk. It’s gorgeous there.

Brussels Countryside Diner – Brussels

Three words.

Hash. Brown. Sandwich.

Three sized orders; mini, half, and whole. The whole is probably bigger than your head. The hash brown sandwich comes in several breakfast varieties as well as taco or pizza style.

Insiders know: If the hash brown sandwich is too much, try the chicken booyah. Arguably the world’s best chicken soup and a local delicacy.

The Real Inside Scoop: Perfect Grilled Cheese

We are cheese. Some of us think it should be on the state flag.

If you enjoy cooking your own, you will be hard pressed to do better than a great grilled cheese sandwich. 

But we mean really great grilled cheese sandwiches. Check out more than a hundred recipes for amazing sandwiches from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's Grilled Cheese Academy, all made from Wisconsin cheese.

Wisconsin even has a statewide Grilled Cheese Championship each spring, or check out these restaurants with grown-up grilled cheese


Ready for another bite to eat? Check out the signature sandwiches on Wisconsin's hamburger highway!

This entry was posted in Subs/Sandwiches Restaurants