Odd Duck: Tapas style goodness
Not for the picky eater. This place is a foodie's paradise. I recommend ordering several of the small plates for some variety on your palate. Main course selections are also an option. Not a very large restaurant so definitely make reservations. They have a great patio as well. The prices are on average about $8 per small plate. Drinks anywhere from $3 - $10 depending on what you have. I recommend a good beer or some good red wine with the small plate selections.
Favorite Dish: The menu changes daily. The best thing I had was a cheese stuffed (I'm forgetting the cheese) quail. Bacon wrapped dates were delish as well. Actually, scratch that, EVERYTHING was amazing...I tried about 3/4 of the small plate menu.
- Food and Dining
Cubitana's: Cuban Food!
This is our favorite Milwaukee restaurant. Good food, pretty good prices, and a fun atmosphere. The menu isn't too big, but everything I have had is good.
Cuban sandwiches, chicken or steak with rice and beans, plantains, and all the yummy Cuban stuff.
Favorite Dish: Probably the pounded steak (Bistec) with rice & black beans. My wife LOVES the appetizers here, particularly the Croquettas de Jamon, they remind her of Brazil.
Dancing Ganesha: Great East Indian cuisine
Let's say my mother has traveled a lot around the globe as well and she says this is the best Indian restaurant she's been to, beating even those in London.
Nice decor, too and friendly service.
Again, check out their own site below for details.
Celia at the Pfister Hotel: Service fit for a king!
Celia is located on the lower level of the historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. The food is excellent, the service impeccable...Expect to spend a bit, as it is an upscale establishment, but certainly well worth it! They have quite a wine selection, in addition to all of their culinary specialties!
Favorite Dish: The scallops appetizer is to die for!!! The scallops are so tender, they melt in your mouth, and they have a delightful sauce over them, with just a hint of bacon flavor.
Kegel's Inn: Built in 1924
Upon a recommendation of one of our students from the days class who grew up in this Milwaukee neighborhood, we headed to an area outside downtown Milwaukee for our German food fix for the week. The tourist usually stay in downtown Milwaukee for Mader's and Karl Ratzsch's, so we figured we would give this a try.
Built in 1924 and run by the Kegel family to this day, this restaurant is in a neighborhood setting with no other restaurants in the immediate vicinity.
When you walk through the corner door the big wooden bar with about 12 seats is immediately on your right along with a few tables. We were escorted to the bigger back dining room area which has about a dozen tables.
It was a quiet night when we visited, so that probably took away from the sometimes festive atmosphere that you can find associated with typical German restaurants. I think it would be much more of an experience with more people, but alas we had picked this night, so it was time to have a beer or two and order our food.
Favorite Dish: There were 3 of us for dinner that evening. Myself and 2 co-workers. We represented respectively 3 other cities of the midwest, Chicago, Indianapolis and Kansas City. 2 of us started out with a very good light beer while a 3rd non drinker at an ice tea.
Mark was torn between ordering the pork chops or chicken breast, and our server recommend the chicken breast as she said the pork chops are frozen the then thawed so are a little on the dry side.
I ordered the house speciality which was the duck breast with a bread stuffing and cranberry sauce and for a starch chose spaetzle. My co-workers had the aforementioned chicken breast and the pork shanks since it sounded interesting and he had never had them before.
My duck was fine and I would probably change my satisfaction rating to a 4, but my co-workers were not too enthused about their meals. Although satisfied, I guess we were expecting more from a neighborhood place.
I also had a good apple strudel which I took back to the hotel for later consumption.
All Milwaukee restaurants are also non-smoking thank goodness.
The Wicked Hop: Outdoor Seating in Historic Third Ward
After looking for a unique place to have dinner with a co-worker we drove and then strolled around downtown Milwaukee. Nothing there sparked our interest that night so we headed over to the other side of the Interstate near the Summerfest Grounds to an area of Milwaukee called the Historic Third Ward. I haven't done much research on the Third Ward area, but from what I could see it looks like a once industrial area not too far from the lake front that now is a collection of newer style condos and a number of restaurants including a Marketplace.
Getting out of our car we proceeded to begin walking and came across a girl walking her dog. We asked her about a place to eat a casual dinner at 8:30 p.m. at night and she said to go all the way down the block to where to worked, which was the Wicked Hop. We had passed this earlier in our car and it looked relatively busy, so we headed over.
We got our seat outside and enjoyed the gentle evening breezes while we were handed our menus and decided what to eat.
Favorite Dish: Being 8:45 p.m. before we arrived we didn't want too much food. I can't remember what my co-worker had and didn't take a picture of his food, but he did have a local Milwaukee brew (is there any other type in Milwaukee?
I had the Ragin' Cajun Eggrolls, which were two large eggrolls each cut in half and served on a bed of shredded cabbage with red peppers on the side. The eggrolls were made of crawfish, andouille sausage, shredded cabbage and their own secret sauce. It was also served with 2 sauces. The one was more on the BBQ side and the other was a spicy sweet sesame seed sauce. I preferred the BBQ one. I ordered a home grown Milwaukee Root Beer since I was driving and it was late (hey, I'm in my 50's and if I was at home I would have been getting ready for bed by that time.)
It was a nice evening out which didn't cost an arm and a leg even though the company was paying for our dinner.
- Business Travel
Balistreri's Italian Restaurant: Local Italian Eatery
Sometimes you just make the right decision. On a recent business trip up to Milwaukee my co-workers wanted to go to eat right after work. After a long day of training I felt like going back to the hotel to rest up a bit, before I went to dinner so I didn't join them. About 6:30 p.m. I was ready for dinner and decided to explore an area around Milwaukee called Wauwatosa. Saw a quaint looking Italian Restaurant, googled it on my iPad and read the very favorable reviews so decided to try it out myself.
I walked through the first door and saw a sign on my right that said something like, "Men could not wear tube tops if they wanted to be seated", right then I figured this was my type of place. I approached the reservation desk in the middle of the first dining room and then was escorted to the room to the right for my table of one. Looked around at the decorations and saw the specials on the chalk board (another good sign) and ordered a glass of sweet Italian Red Wine.
Had a delicious dinner, described below, but the highlight of the evening was talking to 2 ladies at an adjacent table who had ordered one of the "Milwaukee Best Pizza's" which was served in an oblong pan not your typical round. Found out it was a mom and daughter. The mom was a spry 87 years old and her daughter (the only girl in the family with 7 brothers) was a retired VP from Harley Davidson. The mom also had an order of eggplant strips which she had me try a taste of. Delicious.
After about 20 minutes of talking to them, the 2nd youngest brother came in and joined us at the table. He was also a traveller and was taking his mom to Munich, Germany in a few weeks. I suggested the VT site and showed them some of my videos and pictures of Switzerland on my iPad. Overall, a great unexpected evening with some new friends.
Other things I liked about the restaurant was that the takeout area was actually in the restaurant right passed the juke box. There were heat radiators for heating (it was 90 that day so they were obviously not needed) and the small Italian lights around the ceiling.
Family owned and operated for 35 years.
Favorite Dish: As for the dinner portion of the evening, I had 2 glasses of the very good Sweet Red Italian Wine (Lo Duca). For the main course I had the meat ravioli which was loaded with homemade meat sauce. It came with a salad served with crumbled blue cheese and ranch dressing (my choice). I finished off the meal with a great cup of capaccino (I can never spell that word) and took a slice of cherry chocolate cheesecake back to my room for a late night snack.
- Family Travel
Jake's Restaurant: Found Another 5 Star
I don't give a lot of 5 star ratings, but we will add Jake's just outside of Milwaukee to that list. After a long hot day at an Italian Festival at the Summerfest Grounds near downtown Milwaukee where we were more interested in quenching our thirst then eating a heavy meal we headed back to our hotel around 5:30 p.m. While heading back, Rich asked Sue to check through a Chicago/Milwaukee Zagat restaurant guide we had picked up from our local library the night before.
Since we were staying about 10 miles out of town in the suburb of Brookfield, Wisconsin we decided it best that we recover a little bit from the heat at the hotel and then try to stay close to our hotel for dinner. The guide listed one restaurant in Brookfield and after reading other reviews, it sounded like a good place for dinner.
Again, we lucked out with a last minute decision. Although it was a tad difficult to find being off a main road we eventually backtracked and found Jakes's across the road from a small airport. With a lot of cars in the lot at 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday night we figured we might have to wait, but fortunately they had several tables both inside and out to choose from. Since the sun was starting to sink lower in the sky and we were refreshed from our brief respite at the hotel, we decided that the outdoor seating would be our dining room that evening.
As it was for most of the night that turned out to be a real good choice, until late in the meal when the mosquitos made their appearance and attracted by Sue's excessive amount of CO 2 decided to make her their meal of the evening. Besides us there were 2 other couples seated outside. We struck up a conversation with the one closest to us when Rich overheard them mention something about how the view from the outdoor dining area overlooking a small airport with glider planes reminded them of the Napa Valley area where we are planning to go in 3 months time.
As far as the meal goes, the description is below. We didn't stay for dessert as we didn't want the blood sucking mosquitoes to have any more of Sue for their dinner.
Favorite Dish: Rich started out with a glass of wine as a preview of our upcoming trip to Napa while Sue had a very good homemade ice tea.
They had a few specials of the day which included a portobello stuffed with cheese mushroom which was really a good way to start our meal (see picture #4)
Our main entrees were Sue's Steer Tenderloin Filet Mignon 8 oz. and Rich's Roasted Sea Scallops, served with a caramelized leek puree and balsamic syrup. The steak melted in your mouth as did the scallops. Just the slightest cutting action was needed to cut Sue's steak, while Rich's scallops were easily cut with the edge of the fork. (Pictures 2 and 3)
All entrees are also served with 2 choices. Sue had the double baked potato and onion rings while Rich opted for a regular salad and grilled asparagus.
In addition since Rich was really hungry (very unusual for him) he ordered a side dish of Mac and Cheese. This was not your mother's regular Mac and Cheese, but a 4 cheese concoction which like the rest of the meal melted in your mouth. (Picture 5)
- Luxury Travel
Beans and Barley: The freshest, cheapest, and most veg-friendly!
This quirky cafe/market/deli is definitely in my personal TOP 5 for dining in Milwaukee. It's perfect proof that sometimes the cheapest can also be the best! I hesitate to label it as a Vegan/Vegetarian restaurant, because they do serve plenty of meaty options. However they ARE one of the most vegetarian-friendly restaurants around. While you wait for your table, spend a few minutes browsing the little grocery store that's attached. Here you can find a myriad of earth friendly products, local beers, and kitschy gifts (Cat Butt Gum anyone? How about a novelty stapler that looks like an alligator?).
Or you could buy food at the deli and take it out to have a picnic by the lake (only a few blocks away). The cafe also offers patio seating during warm weather. Beverages range from organic tea, to real-cane-sugar-soda, to carrot juice with a shot of vodka in it. They serve breakfast on the weekends and have daily specials. Portions are generous without being overwhelming. It's also the only place I know where you can satisfy your Mexican food craving while your friend tries the quiche. They must love variety as much as I do. Don't forget to try some of the pies and cakes -truly AMAZING-!
If you're going on a Saturday the restaurant may be closed because the East Side Green Market (farmers market) is held in the parking lot. However, it would not be a loss because there's plenty to see, do, and EAT at the market as well.
Favorite Dish: Get the Walnut Burger- I know it sounds weird, but it's delicious. Best vegetarian burger patty EVER. Add avocado and cheese, it's worth the extra charge (me encantan los aguacates).
Second choice? Try the chicken and cheese quesadillas- YUM!
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
Karl Ratzsch's: German food-fine dining
Last visit 6/27/09, our waitress said they had just been voted the best German restaurant in the country but I don't know who was doing the voting
Karl Ratzsch's is Milwaukee's German fine dining restaurant. The 1st time we visited we were standing outside the restaurant perusing the menu and trying to decide whether to eat here or go back to Mader's and some folks that were headed into the restaurant said this was the best German food in the city, how can you ignore a recommendation like that?
We are always heading to Summerfest or something else that is casual in the summer and are usually wearing shorts or casual clothes, some of the other diners are quite nicely dressed, others are as casual as us.
The service is usually very good, on our most recent visit (6/27/09) it was a little slow but the waitress knew their dishes and was very friendly. There was lovely piano music on our last couple of visits and the decor is lovely.
This is not an inexpensive restaurant, the entrees that we tried were $24-$29, high for a German restaurant even by Chicago standards. If you want to try this place but can't swallow the prices, there is an early dining menu for $16.95 during the week, Mon-Fri until 6 pm and a lunch menu during the week.
We always find street parking, after 6pm most of the meters do not need to be fed. We managed to find a spot a few blocks away. They do offer valet parking as well.
Favorite Dish: I tried one of the specials, a Westphalian schnitzel-wiener schnitzel topped with a layer of very tasty ham with melted swiss cheese and a mushroom sauce. It came with a side of homemade spatzel mixed with mushrooms, onions, cheese and tomatoes. The whole meal was excellent! David tried Trudy's Sampler, sauerbraten & wiener schnitzel with a potato dumpling. He also thought his dish was excellent.
We ordered the exact same thing when we returned for our 2nd visit plus we added a yummy bread pudding that we split.
On our 3rd visit, I tried the Chicken schnitzel parmesan, very similar to the Italian version of chicken parmesan but over a bed of spatzle, it was very good and a very large portion.
Milwaukee Brat House: good brats!
I used my coupon for a free beer for the Lakefront Brewery Tour to come here. You get a free beer, and at this place they always give you 2 for every 1 you order, and a brat for $2. It's right next to the German Beer Hall, and the brat was better here. Lots of different beers, of course. Good atmosphere.
Old German Beer Hall: Feel like you're in Germany
German Beer Hall
THey had German music playing, lots of German beer on tap and German food. The brat was ok, the beer was good. Guy next to me ordered a pretzel, and it was the hugest pretzel I've seen. Must have weighed 5 pounds.
Tutto: Classic Italian Sportsbar?
When you walk in you immediately see a beautiful bar which gives you the feel of an upscale restaurant. As you enter and face the bar you see two flat panel TVs that are tuned to ESPN. Each booth was also equipped with a TV that was tuned to ESPN. I didn't see too many people paying attention to the sports during the dinner hour. Perhaps the late night crowd is more interested in sports, but I didn't feel it added anything to the experience. The proximity to the Bradley Center may have influenced the addition of ESPN.
Despite the TVs (without volume), we enjoyed the ambiance, food and wine selection.
Favorite Dish: I had a wonderful four cheese ravioli that I would strongly recommend.
- Wine Tasting
Kincaids: Steakhouse on the River
My girlfriend and I went to Kincaid's because we were on the lookout for a high quality restaurant that was unique to Milwaukee (to my knowledge Kincaid's fit the bill). The food and service were excellent the restaurant was right on the river. I only wish I had been there during the spring/summer so we could have sat outside, but the inside of the restaurant was nice and well decorated. They also had a wine list that definitely surpassed my personal knowledge, so any of you wine buffs would be pleasantly surprised.
The Calatrava Cafe: Santiago would want you to eat here
I love how some museum restaurants have really become excellent over the last few years. The cafe at the MAM is certainly worthy of inclusion in such company. These interesting restaurants make coming to a museum a much more relaxing experience, I'd say, because you don't have to worry about what to do with your hunger pangs after a few hours of gaping at the Francis Bacons or the Gerhard Richters. The Calatrava Cafe has quite good food - and is in a space created by a great "starchitect" of our time.
It's interesting how the menu at the Calatrava Cafe changes frequently, usually keyed in to one or more of the featured exhibitions on display. When I last visited in March 2008, there was a large exhibition of contemporary Japanese painting, so food with an Asian flair was featured in the cafe.
Open daily from 11 until 4
- Food and Dining