Milwaukee is a city with a high hamburger consciousness. Nearly every neighborhood, regardless of its ethnic character or status, boasts an abundance of bunned burgers – cooked in skillets or over charcoal, sometimes basted in butter, served dressed or undressed, and ranging from three ounce sliders to half-pound blimps.
One of the long-time favorite burger shops is a vintage drive-in on Layton Avenue near the airport, known as the Nite Owl Ice Cream Parlor. Yes, ice cream is big here, and it is good. The staff know how to make malts and shakes, sodas and banana splits, as well as such soda-fountain specialties as a Turtle Sundae, a Dusty Road, and a “Me and My Gal” big enough for two.
The Nite Owl calls itself the Home of the Jumbo Burger, and there used to be signs posted in the dining room that the Jumbo was “the largest post-war hamburger in the area.” In fact, the Jumbo is not all that huge, but it is a lunch-counter paradigm, just hefty enough to be a modest meal as a single, or a banquet on a bun if you order a Double Jumbo. It is available either plain or under a heap of fried onions, with or without a mantle of cheese.
The Nite Owl closes for the winter and despite its name, it is not open at night. You can dine here until about 7pm in the summer.