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Milwaukee 1st Visit Help

We will be travelling to Milwaukee in August to see the Mets play the Brewers as well as take in the Museums and State Fair. We will be arriving late on a Thursday and staying at the Pfister and I'm hoping for some hounds recommendations on...

Dinner after 10 on a Thursday night?
Anything in particular we should seek out at Miller Park?
What shouldn't be missed at the fair?
Should we try Raatzsch or Maders?
We won't have a car - would Coerpers 5 o'clock or Jakes still be worth visiting? We are NY's so we certainly have steak and pastrami at home.
I'm thinking of the Hi-Hat Lounge for Sunday Brunch - or should I rethink this?
Would a Friday Fish Fry be worth it and if so where?

Thank you all!

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  1. A couple suggestions - you could check with the desk at the Pfister to see what restaurants on Milwaukee st. might still be serving. One certainty, Elsa's will still be serving, sandwiches and burgers, but upscale sands. and burgers.

    Jake's would be a long cab ride. Others have raved about Coerpers, so I don't need to.

    I've heard the HiHat is good, haven't been. I've been to Ratzsch's recently but don't think it's as good as it used to be.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mike_d

      To follow up, sorry about my confusion about Jake's (there's a very good American restaurant, with an emphasis on steak that's way out in the western suburbs called, yes, Jake's).

    2. I hope you enjoy your visit. I'm not a local, but I visit Milwaukee often as my wife is from there.
      Here is what I can suggest:

      Dinner after 10: Brady on the East Side is likely your best for food that late, otherwise there might be some spots on Water Street still serving food. Hopefully there is a good mexican/C.A. joint open that late as that is one cuisine Milwaukee has some great options in.

      Miller Park: Have a Leinenkugels from the Leinie's Lodge. I think they still serve Johnsonville brats at Miller Park which I am not a fan of. However, since the sausage race is sponsered by Klement's, look for one of their brats. (Perhaps someone can set me straight on this, the brats at the dome are Hormel and they suck.)

      I have been to the Wiso State Fair twice, and it seemed like all of the food is made by the same food service company...burgers, brats, BBQ, all sorta generically similar etc. but that might be me. If you see Usinger's brats, get one, and make sure it was boiled in beer and onions first (add mustard, kraut, maybe some horseradish and onions)! I suppose fried cheese curds, but to be honest, they weren't very good at the fair. (Feel free to visit the MN State Fair if the Twins have a homestand with the Yanks in August next season, best cheese curds around, which is odd ;) ) I know they have curds in upstate NY so this might not be that much of a delicacy.

      I like Maders. It is solid German food, a bit pricey for Milwaukee, but with a cold stein and smoked pork loin, it's hard to go wrong.

      Jake's is not better than anything in NYC as far as we can tell (compared to Katz's, Ben's or Carnegie). The sandwiches are CONSIDERABLY less expensive at Jakes than at, say, Carnegie. We've made two trips and it is very good and definitely the best we've had in the midwest. One word of caution, and I mentioned this in a review, while leaving after our first visit we were not treated very well by other patrons when asking them politely to move so we could get to the door.

      I like Hi-Hat's brunch. The biscuits and gravy are good and my wife likes the stuffed french toast. Also, good (and pretty cheap) bloody marys. Also, if you haven't already been to the east side by this time, this will give you a chance to see Brady Street.

      A friday fish fry is definitely worth it. It is, for me, the quintessetial Milwaukee experience. While fish fry's can be found at restaurants in the city, may I recommend you go to a hall? Long banquet tables where you sit down and before you can get your drink order out (Old Fashions are our tradition) a hot basket of beer battered fish and fries is put in front of you. Rye bread is a must. Be warned however, Milwaukee hasn't instituted a smoking ban yet (bars, restaurants or halls), so be prepared for that. My highest recommendation goes to Clifford's (not in the city proper, but close).

      Also, hit up Kopps or Leon's for some frozen custard. I love the vanilla malt at Kopp's, both have several locations in the metro.

      Have a fun trip and GO BREW CREW! ;)

      1. If you're going to the fair then you have to get a cream puff. As for Miller Park, I usually suggest a brat with secret stadium sauce. Nothing mind blowing, but it's the local flavor. The best thing to do at Miller Park (other than the game) is walk around and take in the tailgating scene pre-game.

        1 Reply
        1. re: beerambassador

          Great call on the cream puffs! Also, the flavored milks for $.25! 100% unique.

        2. Don't forget to have some Kringle...a must when you're in Wisconsin.

          1 Reply
          1. re: willhike4food

            For late night (post 10pm eats) I can't recommend anywhere in Milwaukee more highly than Conejito's. It's a Mexican dive (home made comidas on paper plates, $2 beers) and it's always lively. It can be tricky to find...it's right @ the end of a long bridge (6th Street?) out of the west part of downtown.

            For Sunday brunch, if you get good weather I would recommend Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro followed by a stroll around the park w/ great views of the Lake.

          2. In addition to the cream puffs and the milk at State Fair (Root Beer flavoured milk! Whooda thunkit? Get a chocolate and a peanut butter and mix them together!), get an ear of roasted corn on the cob. I like to go early and have breakfast at the fair. There is at least one place that has all you can eat pancakes, but I like the potato pancakes from the Polish restaurant stand (Polenez?). I also have greatly enjoyed the lamb sandwich at Rupena's.

            If somehow the food at the fair does not do it for you, right across Greenfield Avenue from State Fair Park is a bar call TomKen's which advertises "friendly fried chicken". This may well be the best nearly unknown fried chicken on the planet. OK, maybe that's a little bit of hyperbole, but I really dont understand why this place isnt talked about more, unless it's that Milwaukee Chowhounds are keeping it to themselves.

            The High Hat has an excellent Sunday Brunch. Others may recommend Lake Park Bistro, and it is very good but very expensive, and is too much of a (Milwaukee's version of a) B&T crowd for my own taste. But you might also want to consider Sunday Brunch at the Hubbard Park Lodge in the nearby suburb of Shorewood. They have a website, but unfortunately no menus are posted.

            Coerper's is my own favourite Milwaukee steak house, but it is not a place to go if you have anything planned that you have to be on time for afterwards. The food is first rate though.

            As for late night on a Thursday, and depending on what you are up for, there is Real Chili on East Wells St, not at all far from your hotel. I dont think they are open 24/7 anymore, but I'm sure they are open quite late.

            Serb Hall is generally considered to have the quintessential Milwaukee Friday Night Fish Fry, but it's way off my own beaten path, and I've never had it myself. I'm sure some others can weigh in as to whether it's worth the cab ride or not.

            Enjoy your visit!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Fydeaux

              I can attest to the fish fry at Serb Hall. I thought it is very good, but according to my inlaws, it has gone downhill over the past few years. HOWEVER, it does offer that hall experience and is a great throwback. I liked it and I think the beers were $1.