One of the first posts I had on the blog nearly three years ago had to do with 2 Mit Burgers in Elkader, IA, except I called it "Two Mits". 2 Mit is tough to explain other than it's a seasonal hamburger stand that steams the meat on a special grill, rather than fully frying the meat. It makes the burger exceptionally most and flavorful. And it's damn good.
Since 1980, 2 Mit burgers has been located in a small lot on the corner of Bridge St. and Iowa Highway 56 (see map). It's nothing more than a little trailer and it's only open four days a week April to October - from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. That's because the owners have full time jobs.
Cindy and I hadn't been to 2 Mit for about 4 years, we figured. It was the start of our vacation and we were at a small family reunion in Volga, not far from Elkader. I purposely didn't eat much at the reunion because I knew that a 2 Mit burger was about 10 miles up the road.
When we pulled into Elkader, Cindy said, "Where are we going?"
I said, "I want a 2 Mit burger." She thought I was kidding. I said, "No, I'm not. That's why I only ate a couple things at the reunion."
Here's Cindy getting ready to order at 2 Mits. We were there around 2 p.m. and in all the years we've been coming to the place this was the first time there was NO ONE in line. Usually, we'll find a long line of people either getting ready to order their burgers or waiting to pick them up.
This is the menu at 2 Mits. It's not much - just burgers or cheeseburgers. They also have brats and hot dogs. Actually, their hot dogs are pretty damn good. I had one a few years ago and I was very impressed with it.
When you order a cheeseburger, you say, "I'll take one mit." Mit, I've been told by people who grew up in the area, is close to "with" in Norwegian, or it's what the Norwegian settlers in the area used to say instead of with. Either way, we ordered "2 mit", with melted cheese on top of the burger.
How they cook the 2 Mit burgers is unique. They have a grill in the front of the trailer and it a ridge around the front and sides. The grill is covered with a concoction of water, spices and onions. The burgers are them hand-pattied and tossed on the grill to steam in the water. It keeps the burgers moist and juicy. They usually cook a couple three dozen at a time because they're always people stopping in.
Now, I have to say that 2 Mits is not the first place I had this style of burger. Year's ago, Cindy and I were in Prairie Du Chien, WI and she took me to Pete's Hamburger Stand. It's very similar to 2 Mits, only bigger and older. Pete Gokey began to serve steamed burgers in a small portable cart in Prairie du Chien in 1909. Gokey passed away in 1971, but his place, which is now in a small permanent stand, lived on. Cindy said she used to come up to Pete's with her parents when they would be visiting relatives in NE Iowa when she was younger. I've tried the Pete's burger, then had the 2 Mits. While Pete's may have the legacy and the history, I think 2 Mits is better.
Here's our finished 2 Mit burgers. They topped them off with the grilled/steamed onions and served on foil. By the time we got our burgers, there were five more people waiting for theirs. It doesn't take long for a line to form at 2 Mits.
Since it had been over four years since we'd last had one, it was a great taste sensation. Cindy was sort of mad at me. "I'm not that hungry," she protested. "I wish you would have told me this is what you were planning on doing so I wouldn't have eaten as much at the reunion." She was able to eat a little over half of hers and I eagerly took the remnants of hers and wolfed it down.
A 2 Mit burger is something that everyone should try if they get a chance to get to NE Iowa. With fall coming on, the foliage is beautiful in that area and a 2 Mit burger on a Sunday afternoon would be a great reason to go see the changing leaves and to get a very good burger.