Forget Shake Shack — this Midwest-based burger chain is way better

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

I’ve been living in New York for about four months now.

So I’ve tried Shake Shack and many of the other amazing burgers and fast food chains New York has to offer.

But every time I go to a new restaurant, I can’t help but compare the food to my favorite chain back home in the Midwest: Culver’s.

To get a good look at what makes this burger chain – dare I say it – more supreme than In-N-Out or Shake Shack, I headed up north to Wisconsin, where I had my first Culver’s experience many years ago.


To start my culinary journey, I headed up to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, home of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Culver’s CEO Craig Culver’s alma mater.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

We went around 4:30 p.m., and the place was already packed for the evening. It only got more crowded as we made our way through the meal.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

After placing our orders, we went to fill up our soda. Culver’s is known for its signature root beer, which tastes even better with a dollop of Culver’s vanilla frozen custard.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

We headed to our table to wait. Culver’s employees bring the food to your table, and the wait is a fun time to agonize over how good everyone else’s food looks.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

At last, it arrived in all its glory!

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

To start off, we have to take a look at Culver’s amazing sides, namely two of my favorites: fries and fried cheese curds.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Let’s take a second to talk about fried cheese curds.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

I know what you’re thinking. How can something called a “curd” (also known as the building blocks that make actual cheese) taste good?

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Well I’m here to tell you it’s amazing. Essentially, it’s a mini mozzarella stick, only with fresh white and yellow cheddar.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

How could you possibly go wrong with cheese that’s fried? They’re the best when piping hot (though be careful not to burn yourself with all that melty cheese).

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

via GIPHY

via GIPHY


A fried cheese curd wouldn’t be complete without something to dip it in. My go-to is ranch dressing.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Hey, if you’re going to eat fried cheese, you might as well go all in.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Cheese curds dipped in ranch bring me joy.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Next up: Culver’s fries.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Although not as crave-worthy as the cheese curd, Culver’s crinkle-cut fries are definitely sublime, especially if you’re not in the mood to pay the extra dollar for the cheese curds.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

After testing out the sides, we took a look on the back of the tray lining to get a view of where Culver’s locations are. Although they haven’t made it to the Northeast or West Coast, Culver’s has still made a sizeable dent in the Midwest, West, Texas, South Carolina and Florida.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

But on to the crown jewel of the Culver’s franchise: the ButterBurger. A Deluxe ButterBurger basket, with fries and a medium drink cost $7.89.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

The ButterBurger is named as such because of its buttered buns that are then toasted (Sorry, no burger patty fried in butter here. That would just be a mess.)

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

We ordered the ButterBurger Deluxe, which came with two patties made with Midwest beef, two slices of Wisconsin cheese, and a whole host of toppings.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

As is, it comes with tomato, lettuce, raw onions, pickles and mayonnaise.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

The ButterBurger may be great, but the meal that stole my heart at Culver’s is the chicken tenders. A basket of four chicken tenders and cheese curds (again, an extra dollar, but so worth it) and drink came out to $8.29.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

When eating at Culver’s I typically embrace the amount of fried foods I’m eating and commit. The white-meat chicken in a crispy fried coating is always comforting.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

And, like the cheese curds, tastes amazing with ranch dressing.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Well worth the greasy fingers.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Needless to say, it was a hearty, delicious feast.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

But all that fried, savory, and salty food left us wanting something sweet to finish out the meal. Luckily, Culver’s has that covered as well with its signature frozen custard.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Culver’s was my first ever custard experience. Not to be confused with ice cream, frozen custard has egg yolk added in, which gives it a creamier texture.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

One thing you can always depend on is the flavor of the day. On the day we went, it was vanilla with peanut butter cups — not very complicated, but still tasty.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Bad lighting aside, Culver’s concretes are the best dessert around. The frozen treat combines Culver’s custard with mix-ins like candies and sauces. (I opted for M&Ms in mine.)

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Throughout the meal, it was cool to realize that many of the main ingredients were coming from the state I was in. From the beef to the dairy, everything came from Wisconsin farmers.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider

Chances are, you’ll leave Culver’s happy and full.

source
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider