Charcoal Inn | Sheboygan Brats and Wisconsin Tortes

Review by: Michael Stern

Wisconsin’s Wonderful Sausage

We’re at the Charcoal Inn, a luncheonette on the south side of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. “My dears,” a waitress informs us, “Everything we make is charcoaled except the BLTs and the egg salad.” She points to a grill behind the counter where flames are licking up above the grate. Sputtering Sheboygan brats send their pork-sausage sweetness into the air. (Brat, short for bratwurst, rhymes with hot.)

Butter Makes It Better

“People in Sheboygan like everything they eat with pickle, mustard, and onions, and butter oozing out on every side,” our waitress advises. Some brat enthusiasts add ketchup to the mix or delete the pickles or choose fried onions over raw ones. But every Sheboygan hot meat sandwich – brat, burger, or butterflied pork chop – drips butter.

As brats sizzle over a smoky charcoal fire, they burst with piggy perfume. Thick and resilient but thoroughly tooth-tender, they set the bar for sausage succulence. The savor of their juice swirled with pure melted butter is nothing short of ecstatic.

The cook slits and flattens each brat before grilling it. This allows stacking them in a sandwich. Double-brats are therefore a reasonable option. They come wrapped in wax paper, which customers unfold to use as a dropcloth to catch dripping condiments.

To upgrade Sheboygan brats, big appetites ask for the Charcoal Inn sandwich. That combines a brat and a burger — and, of course, plenty of butter — piled into a roll with pickles and onion.

Dairyland Dessert

For dessert after a brat, Sheboyganites eat tortes. Tortes are creamier than cream itself. We love the lemonade torte, cut into a 4-inch square, 2 inches high. Smooth and white, it sits on a pallet of Graham cracker crumbs. Sweet crumbs adorn the top. A thick band of faintly lemon-flavored torte packs tremendous gravity, as if a pint of cream has been reduced, thickened, and sweetened. It makes us think of a cheese cake, but it is so pure and rich you want to call it cream cake.

Charcoal Inn is the first stop on the Roadfood trip north of Milwaukee. It has a second location in Milwaukee at 1637 Geele Ave. (920-458-1147)

What To Eat

Double Brat

Oreo Torte

Double Cheeseburger

Charcoal Inn Sandwich

Strawberry Cheese Torte


Charcoal Inn | Sheboygan Brats and Wisconsin Tortes Recipes


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August 20th, 2021


As of 8/14/21, Southside Charcoal Inn has closed.
Please see their website for further details.

Charcoal Inn Northside remains open !!!


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