4 Jefferson County food stands you need to hit before summer’s over
Lake Mills, Jefferson and Fort Atkinson are home to four seasonal stands boasting hot dogs, burgers, frozen treats and more.
Every year in the Midwest, we look forward to a few fleeting, summertime-specific traditions. Smothered hot dogs, juicy burgers, and rich and creamy frozen treats seem to taste better outdoors in the sunshine. One neighboring county is home to several stellar food stands to enjoy these simple pleasures. Make it a yearly tradition to bring the whole family to Jefferson County, where people line up for warm-weather favorites.
Keep It Cool
Frostie Freeze, the frozen mecca of Fort Atkinson, made its debut in 1983. The current owner and operator, Brianne Brandenburg, took the reins from the original owners in 2015. Brandenburg worked at the stand for years before purchasing it after the former owner retired. She is committed to keeping the Frostie Freeze legacy alive. “Not much has changed on the menu over the years,” Brandenburg says. “I like to try to add a new special flavor each year, and sometimes we add a new candy or topping, but rarely do we take things off the menu.” Frostie’s menu consists of cones of all flavors, whether you want your ice cream dipped, floated, malted, mixed into a milkshake or topped to your heart’s content. Brandenburg says that Blue Moon ice cream is “by far” the most popular flavor, alongside a classic chocolate shake and Cookie Dough Candy Freeze, which is blended soft serve ice cream and candy. “There are plenty of activities to do in the area, and there’s nothing better than treating yourself to ice cream on a nice summer day,” she says. 208 Madison Ave., Fort Atkinson, 920-563-8180, facebook.com/FrostieFreezeFortAtkinson
Hot Dog Haven
To Doyle’s Dogs “At the Stand” devotees, Wednesdays to Sundays in Lake Mills means hot dog time. Located at 337 E. Lake St., this Chicago-style stand sells hot dogs, brats, polish sausages and classic Italian beef sandwiches. Grab a Nathan’s hot dog or a big dog the way Chicagoans insist, or piled with toppings such as chili, coleslaw and guacamole. (We promise we won’t tell our big-city neighbors if you go rogue, Wisconsin-style.)
Doyle’s prides itself on having the “best-dressed dogs in town,” and when looking at a perfectly cooked dog smooshed between a freshly steamed poppy seed bun, there are few grounds to argue. A couple blocks down the street, you’ll find Doyle’s Dogs’ other location, “Downtown on Lake,” which has indoor seating if you need a break from the heat. Pro tip: Grab a “big bar” ice cream treat before heading over to Bartel’s Beach. 337 E. Lake St., Lake Mills, 920-723-7640, doylesdogs.com
Smack dab between Madison and Milwaukee is Wedl’s Hamburger Stand & Ice Cream Parlor. This Jefferson burger joint has stood the test of time with simple yet decadent on-the-go meals. The establishment has undergone many changes in leadership and monikers, but the secret slider recipe has gone untouched since 1916.
Consistency doesn’t equate to mundanity, as Wedl’s has an extensive menu of sandwiches, burgers, soups, appetizers and — you guessed it — ice cream treats. Dairy lovers are in luck with epiphany-inducing cheese curds and mozzarella sticks, as well as sundaes made with Madison’s very own Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream. Also, in true Wisconsin fashion, Wedl’s fries up fish and chips each Friday, with a choice of crispy cod or catfish. 200 E. Racine St., Jefferson, 920-674-3637, wedlshamburgerstand.com
Flippin’ Burgers on Fridays
The American Legion Post 67 in Lake Mills, located 28 miles east of Madison, has a long history of slinging sliders seasonally on Fridays. The veterans service organization started its first burger cart in 1926, launching a decades-long legacy of beefy excellence. The Legion upgraded to a built structure in 1950, and its crews of burger-flipping volunteers have been feeding summer crowds at the Legion Hamburger Stand ever since. Keep your $2.50 slider order simple: “with” or “without” is shorthand for either fried or raw onions, and the only available accoutrement beyond that is a slice of cheese for an extra quarter (this is Wisconsin, after all). Locals and expats alike line up for these famous sliders, which often sell out before the 8 p.m. closing time — especially after a lost summer last year when COVID-19 closed the stand. 133 N. Main St., Lake Mills, lakemillslegion.com/legion-hamburger-stand-sliders
Sam Jones is a contributor to Madison Magazine.
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