Next to cheese, a good bratwurst is undoubtedly a popular addition to the diet of a Wisconsinite. Traditionally, it would be decked out with sauerkraut, mustard, and onions. While I am certainly a fan of tradition, I’m always up for a break from the norm. I walked into Vanguard with the hopes to have my mind blown by their expertly and originally styled sausages. If you’re looking for the conventional brat, they’ll of course take your order. But if you’re seeking the unconventional, you’ve come to the right place.
For the classics, not only can you choose from a brat or hotdog, they also have the option of choosing cheddarwurst, vegan chorizo, or vegan Italian. Each is made with a combination of protein and appropriate spices. You have the choice to forgo the usual toppings and choose a topping style by city.
One of my lunch mates decided to choose a brat and to style it in Vanguard’s “Milwaukee” way. Fitting for a table of Milwaukeeans! This is for the sausage lover who just can’t get enough cheese. It was topped with cheddar cheese, cheese whiz, and fried cheese curds. The cheese curds alone were enough to make me say that this was a great choice, lightly battered to perfection, but the rest of the bite was just as amazingly cheesy and oozing with flavor.
If you venture into Vanguard’s “styled sausages” portion of the menu, which I did, you’ll find that you’ve traveled even farther away from the conventional hot dog or brat. Sausages made of octopus + chicken + pork, beef + pork, and lamb + chicken, will make it hard to determine how outrageous you want your choice of sausage to be that day. I went for the Khing Khan, which is a sausage fashioned from lamb + pork, galangal (a type of ginger), chilis, and lemongrass. It’s then topped with red curry, carrot, cilantro, and jalapeño. Are you questioning everything you thought you knew about sausages yet? The curry gave it a sweet note and I loved the fresh burst I got from the cilantro and carrot. I would highly recommend this one for lovers of Indian flavors!
My other companion also went for a “styled sausage,” but it was pretty much your typical chili dog with a couple unique additions. A beef + pork hot dog covered in chili, cheez whiz, onion, and jalapeños. This one would be for someone who wants to go the standard route, but switch it up a little. You won’t be disappointed! I can’t wait to revisit Vanguard, I’m just dying to try that Octopus Chorizo! Sounds crazy for a sausage, but crazy is kind of my thing when it comes to food.
Vanguard (2659 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI // 414.539.3593)