This is one of the main old frozen custard places in Milwaukee, a city where frozen custard is an established tradition, and their frozen custard is probably the best I have ever had. They only have a small range of flavours, but the taste and texture are outstanding and the workers run it very professionally and efficiently, indicating that they really know what they are doing. I like how for the ice cream flavours with nuts, they just mix the nuts in by hand right in front of you. For those who don't know, frozen custard is essentially a type of ice cream that has eggs in it, giving it a different, richer, denser texture.
This is also on the less expensive side compared to other ice cream or frozen custard places.
Favorite Dish: Frozen Custard
This is a very good brewpub with great food and good beer in an interesting old brick building in the Historic Third Ward at the southern edge of downtown. It overlooks the river and has some nice seating looking onto the river, as well. We had very good, friendly and efficient service. it's good for adults and children alike.
Favorite Dish: They have some great salads and burgers.
Alterra's newest location is in an old industrial building in the Fifth Ward - which is actually just south of the Third Ward, across the N. Water Street Bridge and over the Milwaukee River. It's everything that we love about Alterra - which means that it's very popular, too. Parking is somewhat limited, they do have a lot but it quickly fills up. Just be prepared!
Ma Fischer's is an all-day diner on the north side, close to the UW-Milwaukee campus as well as several large medical institutions. I'm sure that the wait staff here sees EVERYTHING! I've been here mainly for breakfast and brunch which is also good. The place hums with activity - and the food is good, too. (This is also convenient for a post-movie gnosh - just up the street from the great Oriental Theatre.)
Genuine formica! This is a classic diner with great atmosphere, close to Marquette University. I like it also because it's a place with very easy access on and off the interstate highway, so it makes it a convenient place to stop in Milwaukee if I am passing through on my way from the Upper Peninsula down to Chicago or other points south.
But more than convenience, you'll remember Miss Katie's for the traditional diner food and a great ambience. It's a real neighborhood place for Milwaukeans nearby, as well as being popular with students on a budget. Good for breakfast - or a hearty mid-day meal.
Year in, year out, and as the seasons ebb and flow, Hinterland is my favorable Milwaukee restaurant, and has been for four or five years now. I can always count on a meal of the highest quality, served with outstandingly fresh beer. Appetizers are interesting and filling; the cheese plate in particular offers outstanding value. But it's the entrees which really delight me. I've had some outstanding beef and pork meals at Hinterland. I'm quite impressed at how the flavors are brought out by their bold meals. Fish can be a good option here, but it does seem more "seasonally variable." We are in the Midwest afterall, and this is a restaurant that cherishes "meat".
So that brings up the vegetarian question. I've never had a meal here with a vegetarian. There's usually a vegetarian option on the menu, but it does seem as if the "veggie" options are more limited. I have talked with the staff here, and they seem to be very willing to work with people who prefer meatless meals - but on a certain level, that's not what "Hinterland" is all about.
I think if I were dining out with a vegetarian in MKE, I would come here for a beer and an appetizer -maybe that cheese plate - but would probably prefer another restaurant for the main course.
I guess I still think of Hinterland primarily as a gastropub - that is, a place which brews it own beer (which I would rank among the very best I have had in the US). I am sure that this would be a good place to drink wine - but I think I would do that only if I lived in Wisconsin and could have a freshly tapped Hinterland beer any time I chose!
I love the cozy Comet Cafe, on Farwell Ave., one of the main drags through the East side of Milwaukee. It's a perfect neighborhood hang-out, especially convenient after a visit to the nearby Charles Allis decorative arts Museum. The atmosphere is old-town Milwaukee, retro but not pretentious. Most of the food here is made from scratch and is of a much higher quality than you might expect from an estabishment of this kind. They also do a great breakfast here.
The Watts Tea Shop is a Wisconsin "ladies who brunch and lunch" institution that harkens back to a simpler era of meticulous table service and fine linens. Located on the second floor of a shop that sells fine fabrics, giftware, kitchen gadgets and floral arrangements, the Watts Tea Room reminds me of an old-fashioned department store restaurant - a very nice one, say a Macy's for example. I'm really charmed by the place.
I also like that it's only a block up from the Pfister Hotel. If you get here before the lunch rush, street parking is available, though you will need to feed the meter.
(Incidentally, the ground floor shop has been in business since the 1870s!)
I think I read somewhere that Smyth, the hotel restaurant at the trendy "Iron Horse Inn," was intended to be an upscale and glamorized version of a traditional "Route 66 " roadhouse. Ralph Lauren in the Okies? I'm not so sure that's really a good idea. My English friends might call the result "twee" - or worse.
The Iron Horse is a four star hotel specifically designed to appeal to motocycle enthusiasts - the Harley Davidson museum is just around the corner. And the menu is greatly admired in Milwaukee for featuring Wisconsin "classic American roadfood" favorites with top quality ingredients. I have to say that I really enjoyed the deluxe BLT sandwich that I had for lunch at Smyth. It was incredibly rich and kept me satisfied and full for the rest of the day!
In the last few years I've taken to using the MKE airport as a less expensive alternative to my own local small town field - in spite of the fact that MKE is 300 miles away, 5+ hours drive from my home. With the relentless increase in airfares - coupled with a depressing DECREASE in air service, I have discovered that sometime I can save as much as $300 to $500 PER TRIP by flying out of MKE. Even when adding in the cost of gasoline - plus an overnight at a motel near the airport - I am still saving money.
(The trick is to take advantage of one of the excellent "Sleep and Fly" deals - you stay one night at a hotel close to the airport, and you are allowed to park your car in their lot for free.)
So I've gotten to be quite familiar with Milwaukee - and with some of the dining options close to the airport. Generally, you are much better off in terms of quality and quality going into the city - but sometimes all I want is somewhere close to Mitchell Field. In those circumstances, I like the San Dong Express, which offers solid Chinese food almost immediately adjacent to the airport property.
Very good Vietnamese restaurant, close to Mitchell MKE Airport on the south side of town - it's actually in the suburb of Greenfield. I don't know a lot about Vietnamese food, but if I lived in this area I would definitely make an effort to aquaint myself with it on a regular basis!
In 1987, Water Street Brewery became the first "modern" brewpub to be opened in Wisconsin under the newly progressive brewing laws. They've now been in business for a quarter of a century! The people at Water Street have really played an important role in the transformation of the Wisconsin brewing scene, and in the evolution of Milwaukee as well. Their original location, in downtown Milwaukee is still going strong. I recently stopped for a Sunday lunch at their suburban Grafton location, which is very conveniently located right off I-43 heading north out of town. It's a very handsome new-old building, with acres of wood and cathedral ceilings and plenty of space for the patrons who continue to seek out the Brewpub that made Milwaukee famous.
(There's a third location, in Delafield, in the western suburbs.)
Braise opened in December 2011 to much acclaim. It emphasizes local food and drink, and sponsors a variety of educational programs as well as serving some excellent grub. It's on 2nd Street in Walkers' Point, very close to the big Rockwell clock! "Upscale casual" pretty well describes the ambience - the emphasis is clearly upon the food, and excellent food it is!
It seems that the best dining strategy at Braise is to choose a variety of small plates. I started with something listed under the "Butcher Board" section of the menu, which everything is between 5 and 10 dollars. In "Mushroom and Blue Cheese Tortilla with Roasted Leek Vinaigrette and Crispy Ham," "Crispy Ham" is bacon, I discovered!
For an "appretizer," I ordered the "Braised Lamb Won-Ton with Spicy Chickpea and Cauliflower Ragout, Kolrabi Lime Salad, served with a Pickled Cherry Reduction." There was a lot going on in that dish! I liked it okay, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had been a little simpler.
I also had the Polenta in a creamy parmesan broth, which was crazy good. It was served with a kind of exotic green - it was similar to kale but not quite the same. Then a little parmesan melted on top of the greens. This was the smaller portion, but it was also available in an "entrée size". However, after two other "small plates," the app size was plenty!
Buckley's is a small and charming bistro/bar on Milwaukee's East Side, located in a converted 19th century house. A good deal of its attraction comes from its location and atmosphere of being a special "nook" of deliciousness just a few minutes from bustling downtown Milwaukee, but located in this historic and scenic neighborhood from a few hundred yards from Lake Michigan. There's an interesting and diverse menu with an Italian accent, featuring bold flavors and hearty meats, with "casual elegance" and genuine urbane sophistication.
Crazy Water is one of a number of relatively new Milwaukee restaurants that feature great cooking, affordable prices, and a chic, yet casual ambience that makes a night out a fun and entertaining experience. It's located in what used to be a small neighborhood tavern, and still feels like a corner place - but the food is really excellent. I love how part of the kitchen is right out front, practically in the dining area itself. (The larger part of the kitchen is upstairs, but the energetic and enthusiastic servers do a tremendous job of getting the food onto your plate wherever it comes from.)
The menu changes seasonally here, but always features fresh food prepared imaginatively, locally sourced if possible, with a thoughtful, creative approach that emphasizes big flavors.