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a week in milwaukee- HELP!!

hello fellow chowhounds!

i find myself on the midwest board today because i will be in milwaukee for business next week! as this LA chowhound ventures over to the midwest, (and to milwaukee for the first time) i need your advice on where i can eat:

- will be staying downtown (hotel is on Plankinton Ave.)
- office is by Michigan St. and Jackson St.
- will not have a car, won't have much time to cab it all around for food; plan on walking to and from hotel/office
- staying mon-friday

where would you recommend i go for some good food! i would love to try any "milwaukee/wisconsin" specialties, great local joints, and basically anything i can't get in LA! i anticipate dining by myself for most dinners, and will be on a tight($15/day) budget (so "cheap finds" are great too!) If there are those that don't fall under the "cheap" category but you strongly recommend a visitor- I am still all for it, even out of pocket!

All your recommendations are greatly appreciated. the only limitation is that the places are, ideally, within walking distance of the vicinity i am in.

THANK YOU Chowhounds!!!!!!

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  1. $15 a day? What century was that? Do a search for Milwaukee - there was a specific one a couple of weeks back for Downtown Milwaukee. I just don't see how anyone could eat anywhere in the US for $15/day. There's a lot of great places around where you're staying (if hotel is on riverfront) - Plankinton goes for a ways, but goes along riverfront for awhile before veering off. You might walk over to the Milwaukee Public Market - would be cheaper than buying in a restaurant, but $15 doesn't buy you much anywhere.

    Mader's is probably your best bet for German - it's less expensive than Karl Ratzches - sausage dishes should be less expensive. You might buy some cold cuts from Usinger's... I'm stretching here. Milwaukee is a really fun town with great restaurants & you're right in the heart of things, but I would bring a credit card if you don't want to starve.

    1. hahahahaha....

      yeah, i know, $15/day is meager. i believe my breakfasts will be covered and then just need to make due with what i've got. definitely will be spending my own money to eat...

      thanks for the suggestions. i searched for milwaukee got some spots to check out, hopefully within walking distance!

      thank you!!

      1. Milwaukee has great restaurants, and it has cheap restaurants, but I'm not sure how many are downtown. I was only there for three days, so I'm not an expert, but I posted a trip report:


        Cubanita's is downtown - good food, but beware the cigar smokers. The classic Friday Fish Fry at the Ardor Pub was very nice and affordable - plus, no smokers indoors! And definitely walk over to the Milwaukee Public Market for a munch-and-browse lunch.

        I didn't get to Real Chili, but it gets good recommendations on RoadFood.com, it's downtown, and it's well within your budget. (In fact, it's cheap enough that you could splurge the next night.



        Jake's Pastrami isn't downtown, but it might be bus-able. And it sounds really good.


        If you ever have access to a car, go to Bombay Sweets for vegetarian Indian food. You can stuff yourself silly for $10. But it's nowhere near downtown.


        For more information, check out these links:

        Chowhound Midwest: Downtown Milwaukee Recs

        Chowhound Midwest: A week in Milwaukee

        OnMilwaukee's guide to "eating good 'n' cheap":

        Have fun,

        1 Reply
        1. re: AnneInMpls


          you are a GEM! thank you so much for these recommendations, it has really helped me plan out my meals while i'm there! many thanks for your time to respond!!!!


        2. Hi, there are plenty of good and inexpensive eats that await you. I work a few blocks away from your office location. Here are some of my views:

          - Real Chili is great. I like the chili, but I like the tacos even better (and they are even cheaper). Beer is also served. Open late.
          - Cubanitas during the day is accessible and never smokey, when I have been there. Cuban sandwich is the one to order.
          - Don't laugh, but the hot dog guy on the corner of Water and Wisconsin draws a line of 10 to 20 people on summer days. All Usinger's products. The Linguica sausage beats them all. 11-2'ish weekdays.
          - If you head south a few blocks to the City Market, you can find good lunch meals - Aladdin offers very good hummus and falafel.
          - In the same area, the Third Ward, you can find a little more expensive and traditional French fare at Coquette. Sit at the bar, if you are solo.
          - On the subject of falafel, Yaffa (on Wells Street just west of the Milwaukee River) has the best I've ever had, as well as extraordinary eastern Mediterranean chow - try the schwarma sandwich. This might be a good dinner choice. This is near your hotel.
          - Jake's is an experience, a holdout Jewish corned beef instituton on North Avenue, which has changed all around it. Ask some locals for directions and protocols.
          - Another urban experience is Speed Queen Barbecue. Very very good. Both Jake's and Speed Queen are accessed by cab, but you might not easily find a cab to get you back home (unless you promise the cabbie corned beef or ribs).
          - A little further north, near the UWM campus, is an exceptional and unpretentious Italian restaurant called Sala DaPranzo, on Hampshire, just north of Kenwood and west of Downer. A cab will get you there.
          - Soup Brothers, on Florida Street in Walker's Point offers fresh and tremendous soups. Not much seating, so you have to be a little creative.
          - Maharaja on Farwell has a great Indian buffet every day. This would be an ambitious walk or a short cab ride.
          - For authentic (i.e. not tex-mex) Mexican, try Cempazuchi on Brady Street. Brady Street is a lively area with lots of bars and eateries. Cab ride.
          - I agree with the Ardor recommendation for a fish-fry (it's right across the street!). Another good option is Hooligans on North Avenue (cab ride). Lots of TVs, the bacon/avocado burger beats them all, lots of beers. Great fish fry. This is a bustling area with the new Whole Foods having just opened.
          - Also closer to downtown, for Italian, is Third Ward Caffe - a little more expensive, but you could be creative.

          Enjoy your time here. The best coffee in town is served by Alterra, a local roaster. There is a shop near the lake, and there is one nearer to your office in the US Bank building.


          1 Reply
          1. re: ned

            thank you
            thank you
            THANK YOU.

            noted, printed, and will have this list with me at all times!!!

            Thank you, Ned.

          2. Last Wed. I went to Benji's Restuarant and Jake's (both are highly recommended). Also went to Solley's Grill - loved the banana malt but not the Butterburger. Both Benji's and Jake's were out of this world.

            1 Reply
            1. re: steveindurham

              .. sounds like I will need to hit the gym when I get back from this trip. I will be sure to report back!!
              Thank you, steveindurham...

            2. Don't miss the great German food and local beer. Even the root beer is wonderful. Lots of places near the River Walk that were converted from old warehouses, breweries, sausage factories, etc.
              I have a consulting business doing specialized tours for foreign dignitaries and media. We skip trendy restaurants and head for the places that make each American city unique. In Milwaukee, we do places that show the history of the immigrants and the beer industry.
              Friday night fish frys are a major tradition and an inexpensive good time. Great food too. There are several very well known ones.
              Turner's has German food in an old gymnasium. Turners were German sports clubs.
              This is a town that knows its sausage! Easy to find locally made, top quality.
              Local Italian places are great. Not unusual to see several generation at a huge table.
              Walk through the Pfister Hotel's incredible restored lobby just to see it. One of the Historic Hotels of America group. A very nice lobby bar. There's a wonderful used bookstore across from the hotel where I found some great old cookbooks.
              I love Milwaukee!

              1. Here are some recommendations:

                --Old Town Serbian Gourmet House for Burek and/or cevapcici-this is a reasonable, if not super close, cab ride from downtown
                --Karl Raatzsch's for German
                --Coquette Cafe for French
                --Conejito's or especially Acapulco for 3 AM chow after umpteen local beers for the past six to nine hours-the mix of regret and appreciation doesn't get any sweeter
                --Kopp's Frozen Custard and burgers any old time
                --Coerper's Five o'clock for old school beef by the half ton
                --Real Chili for a lunch but you don't want to have a business meeting afterwards
                --Elsa's for killer burgers, especially the Las Brisas
                --I have not been there for quite some time but Brown Bottle used to have a good fish fry (Fridays and possibly Wednesdays-check) in a very historic setting
                --For local color check out Lakefront Brewery just North of downtown

                You can do very well in Milwaukee, just don't expect to lose weight or down spring water with all of your meals...

                1. I was in your exact position about 2 months ago.....spent a week attending a conference in Milwaukee (my first ever visit), stayed at the Hilton donwtown, had no car, and got some good recommendations from chowhound. I don't have a lot to add to what has been said here, but:

                  > Ate lunch at Cubanitas and would second the recommendation for the Cuban Sandwich. Order lunch at the counter (even though, when you walk in, it looks like there would be table service....they do deliver the food to you).
                  > We chose Maders for our German dinner.....it was great (but would more than blow your $15/day just at that meal). Best German food I have ever had (some on chowhound say Karl Ratschs is better).
                  > Had a great breakfast (baked oatmeal and coffee) at Bella Cafe in the Third Ward. Did not eat lunch there, but would have given lunch a try if we had not waited until our last day to try it for breakfast.
                  > Coquette Cafe was another nice, but spendy, dinner (but if given the choice between Maders or Coquette for a spendy dinner, I would choose Maders because I don't think you could get great German food everywhere, whereas I can find Coquette type food many places where I live).
                  > If you are a beer lover, Milwaukee has some great local beer (and I am not talking Miller). Front Street Brewery had the best beer I tasted (but it only serves beer during tours, and only serves food during Friday Fish Fry, as far as I can tell - do a little research and find what restaurants in town serve Front Street Brewery beer). But there are also Milwaukee Ale House and Water Street Brewery in the downtown area......the food in both these places was just okay, but good local beers.
                  > Mykonas Cafe on Van Buren served some reasonably priced Greek food for lunch.

                  Hope that helps.

                  1. If you in any way can squeeze in a fine dining meal into your tiimme andd budget, you should really, rreally try to do so. Milluakee has one of thte best restaurants in tthe country imo. Sanford's is simply amazing, oone of the top three meals of my life and I do a good bit of fine dining.