When it comes to Big Star vs. The Spot, even members of the same family can disagree.
PHOTOS: RIKI TAGLIAPIETRA

Kenosha Eats: Big Star vs. The Spot

A cheeseburger debate that has spanned generations
Riki Tagliapietra

By Riki TagliapietraKENOSHA.COM

With a proven track record in marketing and operations in the local restaurant industry, Tagliapietra shares his love of Kenosha and all of its tasty offerings through his weekly food column.

The Restaurants:

Big Star, 1500 Washington Road, and The Spot, 2117 75th St., are the most loved and argued-over eateries in the Kenosha city limits. These classic drive-in restaurants are must-stops for visitors and residents alike.

The featured dish:

Cheeseburger with Everything — Seasoned ground beef patty topped with cheese and served on a round bun with ketchup, mustard, pickles and grilled onions.

The Big Star cheeseburger costs $1.75.

Fun Fact: While these nostalgic drive-ins have never been anything but friendly with each other, there might be no easier way to start an argument with a Kenoshan than proclaiming loyalty to either establishment. Fans of each location take their neighborhood burger joint seriously.

The flavor and the story:

This may perhaps be the most controversial article Kenosha.com will ever write. The rivalry between regular customers of Big Star and those of The Spot is intense and long standing. The likelihood of an agreement between the two camps stands just below peace in the Middle East.

The reality is, the fact that we have not one, but two incredibly delicious and nostalgic drive-in restaurants in our city to argue about is a pretty great problem to have.

If you’re new to town, just visiting, or simply have never left your house before, we can’t tell you which one is better, but we’ll do our best to describe them both to help you decide what side you’re on. 

Big Star

Open seasonally from March through September since 1954.

Burger patty: Small, but flavorful and grilled to perfection. 

Cheese: The true standout ingredient of a Big Star burger. Rather than American or cheddar, the burger is covered in a forever-liquid cheese sauce similar to Velveeta that is rich and delicious. 

Onions: Just a sprinkling of well-grilled crispy slivers with great flavor and texture. 

Bun: Round bun toasted on both sides for a great textural addition to the overall bite. There is also a slight sweetness to the bun that adds another dimension to the overall profile.

Cost: $1.75

The Spot cheeseburger costs $3.39.

The Spot

Open year-round since 1945.

Burger patty: A large, beautifully seasoned patty of thick ground beef for a hearty bite that extends beyond the bun.

Cheese: Traditional American cheese generously applied over the full patty.

Onions: A huge portion of tender juicy onions with a bit of sweetness. Close to caramelized.

Bun: The bun at The Spot takes a back seat to the rest of the ingredients. Truly just a vessel to deliver delicious meat and cheese to your mouth.

Cost: $3.39

Summary

As much as I always thought of these burgers as similar, they are almost too different to truly compare. 

Big Star shines bright when it comes to texture and the individual presentation of every element. The crisp bun and slightly crunchy onions contrast wonderfully with the liquid cheese for a truly sensory experience. The patty is significantly smaller but at only $1.75, you can eat two of these flat-top grill masterpieces for close to the cost of one Spot burger. 

The Spot is clearly the place to go when it comes to meat. Their burger patty is hefty, and seasoned so perfectly that honestly, you wouldn’t even miss the bun if you chose to leave it off. The onion quantity is very generous but the tender texture and sweet taste makes them a great complement to the burger and never becomes overwhelming.

So which one is better?

Honestly, it completely depends on how you like your burger. If nuance of texture, toasted bun, and flavorful cheese are your priority, it’s Big Star every time.

If a large, incredibly tasty burger patty with generous toppings is what floats your boat, The Spot is your destination for every nostalgic craving. 

Personally, I think they’re both amazing and crave a different option each time I want to enjoy a meal in the luxury dining room of my driver’s seat.

Maybe I just didn’t grow up far enough North or South in the city, but at the risk of missing out on a fun argument, I’ll just keep eating them both as often as possible. 

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