Every good town and true in Wisconsin can boast a tavern equipped with a griddle and bartender who can sizzle up a tasty burger. The Anchor Bar in Superior is in a class all its own, though, tendering an attitude and satisfying appetites to match its portside setting.
Burgers thick and heavy, bigger than most, are served in one-third, two-third, and whole pound calibers, the last a Leviathan named the "Gallybuster." Variations abound, with toppings extending to "sourkraut," cashews, and green olives, and even a jalapeño/cream cheese version. All are juicy, rich, and uncommonly cheap.
That's about it for the menu. But the Anchor does serve fresh-cut french fries, just a buck twenty-five extra, which, if hot, can come stealing in with the same sublime notes of crunch and grease as a great cone of frites. The bar is stocked with an ample cargo of microbrews, along with pitchers of local swill more affordable than pints around these parts.
Long, narrow, and wreathed in shadows, the bar's walls and ceiling are festooned with layers of nautical bric-a-brac and flotsam, the centerpiece of which is a life ring from the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The doomed freighter embarked on its final voyage from Superior in 1975, and the intervening years haven't always been easy on the city. Its waterfront might have faded into rusty senescence, its rebound might have been eclipsed by the tourist-strewn boardwalks of Duluth, and the looming dock terminals and hills hulk behind the Anchor.
But Superior sings praises to the bar and its burgers, as does its twin port, regional media, and now, travel television. It's a hard-earned prestige, big as the lake where the legend lives on.