To start my culinary journey, I headed up to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, home of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Culver's CEO Craig Culver's alma mater.
We went around 4:30 p.m., and the place was already packed for the evening. It only got more crowded as we made our way through the meal.
After placing our orders, we went to fill up our soda. Culver's is known for its signature root beer, which tastes even better with a dollop of Culver's vanilla frozen custard.
We headed to our table to wait. Culver's employees bring the food to your table, which is a fun time to agonize over how good everyone else's food looks.
At last, it arrived in all its glory!
To start off, we have to take a look at Culver's amazing sides, namely two of my favorites: fries and fried cheese curds.
Let's take a second to talk about fried cheese curds.
I know what you're thinking. How can something called a "curd" (also known as the building blocks that make actual cheese) taste good?
Well I'm here to tell you it's amazing. Essentially, it's a mini mozzarella stick, only with fresh white and yellow cheddar.
How could you possibly go wrong with cheese that's fried? They're the best when piping hot (though be careful not to burn yourself with all that melty cheese).
A fried cheese curd wouldn't be complete without something to dip it in. My go-to is ranch dressing.
Hey, if you're going to eat fried cheese, you might as well go all in.
Cheese curds dipped in ranch bring me joy.
Next up: Culver's fries.
Although not as crave-worthy as the cheese curd, Culver's crinkle-cut fries are definitely sublime, especially if you're not in the mood to pay the extra dollar for the cheese curds.
After testing out the sides, we took a look on the back of the tray lining to get a view of where culver's are. Although they haven't made it to the Northeast or West Coast, Culver's has still made a sizeable dent in the Midwest, West, Texas, South Carolina and Florida.
But on to the crown jewel of the Culver's franchise: The ButterBurger. A Deluxe ButterBurger basket, with fries and a medium drink cost $7.89.
The ButterBurger is named as such because of its buttered buns that are then toasted (Sorry, no burger patty fried in butter here. That would just be a mess.)
We ordered the ButterBurger Deluxe, which came with two patties made with Midwest beef, two slices of Wisconsin cheese, and a whole host of toppings.
As is, it comes with tomato, lettuce, raw onions, pickles and mayonnaise.
The ButterBurger may be great, but the meal that stole my heart at Culver's are the chicken tenders. A basket of four chicken tenders and cheese curds (again, an extra dollar, but so worth it) and drink came out to $8.29.
When eating at Culver's I typically embrace the amount of fried foods I'm eating and commit. The white meat chicken in a crispy fried coating is always comforting.
And, like the cheese curds, tastes amazing with ranch dressing.
Well worth the greasy fingers.
Needless to say, it was a hearty, delicious feast.
But all that fried, savory, and salty food left us wanting something sweet to finish out the meal. Luckily, Culver's has that covered as well with its signature frozen custard.
Culver's was my first ever custard experience. Not to be confused with ice cream, frozen custard has egg yolk added in, which gives it a creamier texture.
One thing you can always depend on full, the day. On the day we went, it was vanilla with peanut butter cups; not very complicated, but still tasty.
Bad lighting aside, Culver's concretes are the best dessert around. The frozen treat combines Culver's custard with mix-ins like candies and sauces (I opted for M&Ms in mine).
Throughout the meal, it was cool to realize that many of the main ingredients were coming from the state I was in. From the beef to the dairy, everything came from Wisconsin farmers.
Chances are, you'll leave Culver's happy and full.