Lisa and Sarah at work both told me about Pete’s Hamburger Stand in Prairie Du Chien. In fact, Lisa described it to me some time ago. She didn’t say Pete’s made the best hamburgers, but she did say they were really, really good and I should try them if I had the opportunity.
Last weekend was my chance.
I walked up to the stand and there were no lines (I was told there were always lines). There had been plenty of rain so I assumed that Pete’s clientele had been washed out. I walked up to one of the two windows in the shack and saw a big grill with nothing but onions sizzling in water. One grill, two windows. I’m not sure how I didn’t notice the guy inside the tiny shack holding a huge tub filled with balls of raw meat but he startled me. He very politely told me that he was making up another batch and it would be about 15 minutes before anyone got a hamburger.
The girls were waiting in the car so I asked them if they felt 15 minutes was too much to ask. They didn’t think it was too much so we killed time in a toy store. We bought a pair of Romper Stompers. The version we now own aren't called Romper Stompers, but that’s what they are. While we were in the toy store Deb asked me if I should go get in line while they continued browsing. I told her that the guy with the raw meat said fifteen minutes and that because of the rain there didn’t seem to be anyone left on the entire block, let alone near the hamburger stand.
When we walked out of the toy store I looked down the street and there were lines streaming from both windows in the stand.
I didn’t run, but there was no way I was going to wait another half-an-hour for a hamburger. I got in line and tried to see how many burgers were left. It seemed as if the patties were flying off the grill. Would there be enough to cover my order? The hype from home and the hype from the people standing in line talking about how great these burgers were was amping my brain. Finally, I made it to the window.
"Two with. Three without. All with ketchup, salt and pepper please.”
I sounded as if I had been ordering these things since infancy.
The burgers were tucked into bags and I handed them to Allie (I carried the root beers and chips). I told her that if she dropped the bags on the wet pavement our lunch would be ruined and our entire vacation along with it. She assured me she was up to the task.
Now, I don’t know if it was because it was incredibly muggy as we sat in the car by the riverside or maybe it was because Julia was screaming and crying because she couldn’t have her own bag of Doritos; but there was no choir of angels when I tasted my hamburger. It was good. It was satisfying. It had an unusual texture because it’s basically boiled in water on the grill. The water is infused with the flavor of all the onions that are boiling next to the patties so that taste makes it way into the meat. But I think I’m more of a Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry kind of guy.
That’s not to say the next time I’m in Prairie Du Chien I won’t stop by. . . just to see how long the line is.