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Hey all

Have a road trip of a thr night in milwaukee ( going to the ball park - are the bratwursts really as good as the guidebooks suggest ? ?), fri/ sat in minneapolis (staying graves 601) and sunday in madison ( staying at doubletree) en route to chicago.

Looking for recs for brewpubs with good food, or quintessential or ' do not miss' places for lunch and dinner. Not partic fussy re cuisine, but prefer a casual vibe to anything too overpriced or stuffy.

Also any top recs for bars, clubs or streets for bar hopping near to where we are staying, partic in MPLS ? We are in our thirties so no frat boy or touristy gaffs please.

Finally ( and I admit this is a bit sad ) are there any decent websites which would give an old Prince fan an idea of where would be cool to go when in MPLS - am travelling from UK and cannot get a decent guidebbook for the city here.

Thanks for any advice you can give

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  1. In Madison, don't miss Great Dane Pub & Brewery, just a block or two from the square, and also Angelic Brewing, just a few blocks in the other direction.

    In between the two, stop at Myles Teddywedgers for a cornish pasty


    4 Replies
    1. re: Devotay


      Do you have any suggestions for vegetarian Madison? My wife and I will be up there for the first outdoor farmer's market of the year. Come rain or shine!!!


      1. re: u.of.c. eddie

        Bunky's, Caspian Cafe, Lao Laan Xang, Dobhan, and Maharajah are all pretty good. Check the Isthmus Dining Guide (which also has a vegetarian category) for their locations & hours, etc.: http://www.thedailypage.com/eats/

        VegMadison.com has more vegetarian suggestions: http://www.vegmadison.com/restaurants...

        1. re: jumble

          As a vegetarian living in Madison, I've not had any problem getting a good meal at pretty much any restaurant I've walked in to-- from hole in the wall, student-y type to Harvest, etc.

          Do you have any specific types/ethnicities that you're interested in?

        2. re: u.of.c. eddie

          If you're already at the Farmer's Market, you'll probably want to go across the street to the Cafe Soleil, which is run by L'Etoile, the famous restaurant upstairs. The food is not solely vegetarian, but there are plenty of vegetarian choices, including wonderful baked goods.

      2. In Minneapolis, you'll be in the middle of downtown, which is great for bar hopping. I don't get downtown much, but I really like Solera for Spanish tapas and Vincent for French food (Vincent has an especially good happy hour on Monday-Friday from 4:30 to 6:30). Neither of these places is known for the beer, however.


        Nye's Polonaise is a fun place to go - for the alcohol and piano bar, NOT the food. It's on Hennepin Avenue just across the river (half a mile from your hotel). If the weather's nice, make time for a stroll along the river - there's an island in the middle that's very scenic.


        The Town Hall Brewery is a brewpub near downtown. I've never been there, but I've heard good things about the beer in this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/327606


        And your hotel is just down the street from First Avenue, which is where Purple Rain was filmed. You MUST go. Check out prince.org - see the Minneapolis FAQ - for more info on First Avenue and on Paisley Park, Prince's studio in Chanhassen (a suburb way out west). And you could drive out to Lake Minnetonka to see the location of the lake scene in Purple Rain, except I don't know exactly where on the lake the scene was filmed (and I should know this - I'm a Prince fan, too).



        P.S. Are you really travelling from Milwaukee to Minneapolis and then back east to Madison? Those Wisconsin towns are just an hour apart from each other, but Minneapolis is 5-6 hours drive to the west. Unless you're flying, you'll get very familiar with Highway I-94, which is boooooooring.

        1. at the risk of blowing my anonymity, and in the name of full disclosure, I work @ the graves 601...here are my recs (sorry...too lazy to link right now, you'll have to google some of these):

          112 eatery is a great spot close to the hotel for a fab dinner @ a reasonable price...you'll have a tough time getting a tbl @ this point, so just sit @ the bar. John usually works on Fri/Sat and is an engaging conversationalist & is up on the local music scene.

          Cosmos is in the hotel if you want to spend the $$$ (lunch is well priced and the menu is quite broad and well executed)

          If the weather is good you ought to hop the light rail train (1 block from the hotel) and take it down to Minnehaha Falls (~20min each way)...there's a FANTASTIC simple cheap fish stand in the park called Sea Salt Eatery that serves the best fresh lunch in town.

          If the weather is not so good, Town Talk Diner (another "gastro-pub") @ Lake St. and Hiawatha is a 2 block walk from the train & does a great brunch and fantastic dinner...sit @ the bar, and you'll get a great show to go with the great food. their bartenders make you feel @ home and the vibe is excitably laid-back, plus the music they play is always interesting and the drinks are out of sight. It's the type of place where time would fly by if you spent a late morning and full afternoon drinking.

          Solera has great tapas (on Hennepin Ave, near the hotel)...we like to hit it for appetizers & sherry. Right across the street is our "competition", the Chambers hotel...tres chic w/ a John Georges Vongerichten restaurant. If you look like a trendy Brit, you'll fit right in...all the art is of the YBA movement.

          You MUST visit the bar @ Nye's Polonaise (cross the Mississippi River on Hennepin...$7 cab ride from the hotel, which I recommend, because you won't be able to resist the urge to over-imbibe in this place)...the food is so/so, but the evening atmosphere on the weekend is one of a kind. Right in the same neighborhood is another fab "gastro-pub" called The Bulldog, as well as Whitey's which is a nice little neighborhood dive. Punch Pizza is also a block away and is, for my $, the best pizza in the Twin Cities.

          Hell's Kitchen (7 blocks) has the most unique breakfast in Minneapolis.

          If you are looking for a late nite scene, perhaps with a snack craving, check out either Azia or Temple...both are owned by the same chap, and are dead sexy spaces which run late night happy hours.

          Town Hall is the best brewpub in MPLS, and does a pretty decent pub lunch. My fave local beer @ the moment is Surly Furious IPA, but they don't have a pub of their own, and it can be hard to find around town...Bryant Lake Bowl has it, and would be a fun place to check out.

          I used to live in Milwaukee, and while the brats @ the park are good (use the special stadium sauce) you would be missing out if you didn't go to Solly's for a Butter Burger...before or after a tour of the neighboring Sprecher Brewery is a great taste of indie Milwaukee (if you really wanted to court a heart attack you could then hit Kopp's Frozen Custard for dessert)

          We always stop @ Ella's Deli in Madison...tremendous kitsch factor.

          If you feel like GREAT Spicy Szechuan cuisine, make the trek to St. Paul for LITTLE SZECHUAN...it is the real deal...try the pea shoots and the spicy short ribs. it's really the only place we'll drive over to st. paul for.

          1 Reply
          1. re: g rote

            Ella's certainly has kitsch, but the food is god-awful.

          2. The brats at Miller Park are certainly fine, but I think the Polish and Italian are even better. Most of the bars that I like in Madison are within a block or two of the capitol building, so if you stay close to there you'll be well set.

            1. Passing through Milwaukee are ya? I got two words, REAL CHILI. If you haven't, you must. One heaping bowl of Hot and you'll be hooked! There are two locations, one downtown at 419 E. Wells and the other on the Marquette Campus at 1625 W. Wells.


              1. The bar at the new Chambers Hotel is super cool and defintely a grown-up crowd. The bar at Solera is also beautiful and you can order their fine Tapas. Try a galss of the Pedro Ximenez "Noe" sherry for a real treat.

                1. If you're looking for someplace after the Thursday night game at Miller Park, you might want to indicate roughly where you're staying. There's not much near Miller Park for bars or food unfortunately.

                  Hearty seconds for Madison recs of The Great Dane and Myles T's for pasties. If you're around the Capitol, stop at Genna's on Carroll for a very interesting bar.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mike_d

                    staying at Ambassador - west wisconsin ave - i think about three miles from ballpark but still sev miles from downtown. anywhere decent near hotel or should we head into downtown if jetlag permits ? what is the safehouse like ?

                    1. re: willowan

                      Coerper's 5 O'Clock Club for steaks is just a few blocks North of your hotel. Classic American Steakhouse preserved from the 1950's.


                      I ate there once during my year in Milwaukee, and loved it...I must have downed 3 or 4 dirty martinis while waiting for my table, and I couldn't finish my steak (I always finish my steak!!!) but it was worth it. I seem to recall that end of Wisconsin Ave W. of Marquette's campus being a bit dicey...might want to cab it.

                      1. re: g rote

                        There's nothing much near the hotel at all, excepting Coerper's. I've heard great things about the place, but have never been myself.

                        You will want to cab it. The hotel is nice, the area not great, not really horrible, but for the price of a cab..... For orientation's sake, you're on 24th and Wisconsin, the streets descend in number towards downtown. The Milw. river is the east/west divide. East of the river, there's only 7 or 8 blocks to the lake.

                        I haven't been to the Safe House in years, so can't say. If you're looking for after-game drinks and eats, then Elsa's on Jefferson (burgers and other sandwichs in an upscale bar). I've heard good things about Brio, also on Jefferson, casual Italian with drinks and music. All these are downtown, east of the river. Right on Wisconsin and Plankinton (which would be 1st st.) is Mo's Irish Pub. It's a 'Guinness' pub (Guinness, as you might know, goes about explaining to American bar owners how to set up an Irish bar). Food's not bad, pretty reliable if not spectacular. (I'm suggesting these as after-game, because they would all make the trip to the ballpark a double-back trip.)

                        Lastly, you might want to try Saz's on State st. west of the Ambassador, north of the ballpark. Any cab driver would know the route. They'd have transportation to the ballpark before the game, and then back to Saz's. Again, they do a decent job. My fav would be the grilled cheese sandwich (I know, but with bacon and three cheeses, it's a heart stopper.) Ribs are not the 'real' barbeque style, but the sweeter, not hot, type sauce. It's a nice place. Here's the link.


                        1. re: willowan

                          In terms of proximity to the ballpark, your current hotel is about as good as it gets (I'm guessing you can cab it for $8). In terms of proximity to downtown nightlife, you're about a $12 cab ride away...just ask them to drop you off on Water Street. Or, if you want to have a real beverage adventure, ask them to take you to this place...best dessert cocktails anywhere, and totally worth the $15 cab ride.

                  2. About Prince, know that he know longer lives here, so his presence isn't going to be felt much anymore really. But the post with the advice was dead-on about where to look and go.

                    I would add Masa as a restarant to recomment - 11th and Nicollet. Upscale Mexican, voted best new restuarant of the year. I love the place. The churros will blow your mind. The baby chicken is excellent. It's quite close to your hotel.


                    1. For Milwaukee...

                      Sobelman's is my new favorite burger pub, plus they offer an incredible bloody mary loaded with goodies. One look at their website and I knew the place was for me. I've been back several times and I'm craving it just typing this. Personally, the Sobleman Burger is my fav, with three cheeses and loaded with jalepenos. And the Big SOB is utterly ridiculous (check the gallery page of the website for pictures). While the burgers are juicy, and the toppings are fresh, my favorite part is the homemade buns - fresh and buttery. A simple bar, with cheap prices, and great food. Not to mention, it's located right by Potowatomi Casino, if you're looking to have some gambling fun.

                      Coerper's steakhouse is pricey, but worth every penny. It's a place we treat ourselves to one a year. Huge, juicy steaks. Enormous baked potatoes. An old school relish tray with finger food treats. Small, dark wood, cozy, nothing pretentious about it.

                      And, going off of G_Notes advice about At Random, it's a nice little corner of town with a few attractions in walkable distance from At Random.
                      Club Garibaldi (pool hall, $5 burger, chill spot) http://www.onmilwaukee.com/dining/art...
                      Palomino Bar - best greasy, fried food and eclectic crowd
                      Cactus Club - bands on the weekend
                      Puddler's Hall - landmark and great pub
                      DeMarini's Pizza - best sausage pizza in town