One of the Dells’ more storied eateries is Monk’s Bar & Grill downtown. Monk’s opened in 1947, a half-block from its current location. It quickly became known for its burgers, whose great taste supposedly came from being cooked on a well-seasoned, never-washed grill. To entice people to come on in and down one, the grill vents its savory-smelling exhaust directly to the sidewalk.
In the ’60s, the owners transformed the interior into a Badger shrine in honor of their two sons, who were successful Badger football players. The current owners continue that tradition. (The benches on the second level are originally from Madison’s Camp Randall Stadium.)
If you’re here, you’ve got to try the original Monk’s burger: juicy ground chuck served medium with grilled onions. The menu also contains a wealth of burger variations, including black bean and black-and-bleu burgers, plus the requisite sandwiches (the Reuben is especially good, as is the Philly cheese steak), salads, appetizers and kids’ meals.
Drink-wise, there’s a decent selection of beer, including New Belgium Fat Tire, New Glarus Spotted Cow and Leinie’s. The signature drink, though, is the Purple Monkey, which contains five kinds of liquor and a “variety of exotic mixes,” according to the bar manager.
Because Monk’s is so popular, you’ll probably have to wait if you go during the busy summer season, so try going at an off time (before 11:30 a.m.).
And beware: the seating system is strange, as there’s no hostess. If all the tables are full when you arrive, you have to watch for an opening and grab it before someone else does. In fact, staff tells you to hover near a table of people who appear to be winding down their meal. That’s rather embarrassing to do and, frankly, weird.
Monk’s now has several other eateries across the state, including Monk’s at the Wilderness in Lake Delton.