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Jan 8, 2008 04:43 PM

Milwaukee Downtown

Going to a theatre conference in Milwaukee this weekend. I am staying downtown on "old world third street" and would like something within walking distance for dinner. Most of the events are going to be at Cardinal Stritch, so recommendations close to there would be helpful too.

I am on a grad-school budget but it's just me, and I loooove good food, so all recs are helpful. Thanks!


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  1. Mader's is on Old World Third Street. Mader's is a German restaurant. Mader's always gets mentioned as the place to go to experience German food in Milwaukee.
    Milwaukee ave is within walking distance with these mid priced restaurants located there: Cubanitas, a great Cuban restaurant. The Metro Cafe located within the Metro Hotel, known for the desserts. Zarletti's is an Italian restaurant located there also. Milwaukee Ave also has several bars that are fun.
    Water Street is also within walking distance. Kilowat in the Intercontinental Hotel has a varied menu. Water Street Brewery is a an established restaurant as well as Eagan's on Water.
    There are a lot of other restaurants in the downtown area. On a nice weather day you can walk to just about anywhere. On the cold days cabs are readily available. can give you an idea of other things to do as well as more dining options.
    I am not familiar with the area surrounding Cardinal Stritch. Bay Shore Mall is close with several restaurants but it is not within walking distance.

    1041 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203

    Metro Bar & Cafe
    411 E Mason St, Milwaukee, WI

    728 N. Milwaukee Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202

    741 N Milwaukee St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

    InterContinental Milwaukee Hotel
    139 E Kilbourn Avenue, Milwaukee, WI

    Eagan's On Water
    1030 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

    Water Street Brewery
    1101 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

    1 Reply
    1. re: Living4fun

      Ohhh how I do miss Maders! I haven't been back to my hometown since 1991. Ohhh, to have good German food again! I also remember a great German restaurant between Minnesota and Wisconsin. We used to meet my Grandparents there when I was a kid. I can't remember the name though....

    2. I know nothing about Milwaukee, but I just read this thread on "Roadfood" that may help you out.

      1. There aren't too many options up near Stritch. On Port Washington Rd, which runs right next to Stritch, north of there is Benji's (Port Washington Rd. and Brown Deer Rd.) in the large strip mall. Good corned beef and Jewish deli specialties (good chicken soup, Nova lox). South of Stritch on the same road is where Bayshore Mall is. Just south of the cross street Silver Spring is a Kopp's for burgers, but everything else in that area is fast-food and chains. At least as I recall. You could try searching the board using "Glendale" and "Fox Point"

        Also, Pandl's gets generally good reviews, though nothing spectacular

        I think Living4fun's suggestions are very good. I like Zarletti very much and have had nice lunches at Cubanitas. I don't know if I think Water St. Brewery's food is that good, but the beer is good. But, I've only had lunch there and it's been awhile.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mike_d

          Pandl's is worth a trip just for the total throw-back & midwestern German experience and those garlic bread chips, but the food... well... just say I'm forced to go there with the in-laws every trip to MKE... which is very frustrating when there are so many great places.

          Do a search on Milwaukee - lots of stuff in that area & worth it to check out The Third Ward & Brady Street too. I like Trocadero a ways up Water Street from where you're at - I wouldn't walk it as not the most scenic of routes, but... Have fun - you can't help but do that in Milwaukee!!

          1. re: torta basilica

            I agree with you about Pandl's, but I couldn't think of anything else (non-chain) up that way.

        2. Not sure where you are from, but when we come to Milwaukee to visit my in-laws, the one thing we never miss if we are there on a Friday is fish fry. It is something we cannot get here in MPLS and is a Wisconsin specialty. Everyone has their favorite, mine is most definitely Cliffords, which I believe is in West Allis or Hales Corners. Definitely hit a hall to get the best experience, but skip Serb Hall...we have not had the good experiences my wife grew up with there with regard to the quality of the product.

          It may have been mentioned already, but frozen custard is also something we can't get at home, but love to get our fill of in Milwaukee. Kopps is our favorite, but there are several places to get it.

          At Random is about the nuttiest place to get a drink I've ever been to in the Midwest, don't miss that. I think it is in Bayview (or Bayport...).

          Polish and German foods and restaurants have been hit and miss for us, but they are abundant and have good cheap beer for the most part. We've found downtown...and everywhere (except Brady and the Eastside), somewhat chainy apart from these eateries.

          There is a "mexican" restaurant with a pepper you can ride where people invariably have told us to eat when we visit. Don't eat there, the food is terrible and the cocktails are weak (something that should be a sin in drinkinest town around).

          1 Reply
          1. re: Foureyes137

            I believe La Perla has the pepper ride, never cared for that place much either. Too greasy!

          2. I eat out a lot and can safely say that there are really no spectacular places to eat in Milwaukee. Most of the spots others have posted before me are your typical "tourist" restaurants that will do nothing for you if you are picky about where you eat, and by posting your message here I can guess you are not.

            First off, if you are staying in the third ward, you can take a cab to anywhere in the city for a reasonable fare.

            In the third ward, I would suggest Nanakusa if you like Japanese/Sushi. Very good food and a great atmosphere. I also would suggest Coquette. It gets a lot of praise, although I will admit I've eaten there twice and it was just ok. They do have a decent menu.

            Not too far from the third ward is walkers point. Most of the good Mexican restaurants are located there. I would highly suggest LaFuente. Excellent casual dining. Very lively on the weekend. Get the Don Julio Anejo Gold Margarita on the rocks and try the Shrimp Soup. Both are staples for me. They also have the best chips and salsa in town. Also suggested although not before La Fuente, I would say La Perla or Botanas Restaurant, both in the same area.

            If you want a steak, go to Mo's on Plankinton. Not far from the third ward. One of the best in town for food, atmosphere, etc. A lot of the who's who go there. A swanky place if you like that sort of stuff. Beware, it's not cheap.

            There are some decent places on Farwell Street. Pasta Tree and Pizza Shuttle are decent. Take a cab to Brady and Farwell and walk. There are a lot of cool shops and many restaurants too. You can look at the menus on the door and see if anything interests you. A cool spot to visit if you've never been to Milwaukee nonetheless.

            Out of the city you could always go to Lake Park Bistro in Lake Park. Oustanding food and restaurant, but you will have to pay. It is worth it though.

            I also like Sanfords or Bartolottas in Wauwatosa.

            I think you would not be disapointed in any of these selections. Good Luck.

            5 Replies
            1. re: RickR

              I have to respectfully disagree with Rickr. Most of the places that I mentioned are not tourists restaurants. Just because the OP is on a budget does not mean she isn't picky about her dining choices.

              The OP is not staying in the Third Ward , she's staying on Old World Third Street, a bit different.

              There are indeed spectacular places to eat in Milwaukee. Reviewers for the "Zagat 2008: America's Top Restaurant Dining Journal" put eateries across the country to the test to compile a list of the top 11 restaurants, and Sanford placed at No. 8. I guess Sanfords is exceptional and spectacular.

              On a budget Sanford is not one to consider going to. Nor Bacchus Nor Yanni's which I consider a whole lot better than Mo's. Mo's is just a step up from the chain steakhouses and barely a step at that.

              Milwaukee also has an abundance of Mexican restaurants LeFuentes being a run of the mill , get you in rush you out type of place. Botanas is much better. LePerla is lousy. Walker's Point has so many Mexican restaurants to choose from.

              Milwaukee had grown leaps and bounds over the years and wonderful restaurants have sprouted up.

              1. re: Living4fun

                I would add only two things. One, if there are good places around Stritch, then please let us all know, especially the OP. Two, having lived here since I came to go to college (over 30 years) I agree with Living4fun, the restaurants have improved vastly. For example, how the Pasta Tree stacks up against places in other cities is one thing, but 20 years ago, there was nothing to compare to it. The choices for Mexican is another example of how much better things have gotten. And the middlebrow places have come up because of the better quality on the high end.

                1. re: Living4fun

                  I would have to similarly disagree, although I will have to agree that we have also not found Milwaukee to have a "food" scene, though why would it when you can drive to Chicago.

                  La Perla is the terrible "mexican" tourist restaurant with a pepper you can ride in the window I mentioned.

                  Our two visits to Mo's were similarly bad; the steaks being flavorless and overpriced and the winelist (and I mean no disrespect to those that like it) a sham.

                  I do however agree that The Sanford is very good and if in your price range, a sure bet for a good dinner. We also like Jakes and Speed Queen, though I doubt the poster will be in that neighborhood.

                  1. re: Foureyes137

                    I disagree with labeling La Perla as being "Terrible" Obviously you've never had terrible Mexican cuisine. I've been to Mexico several times and lived in Chicago for a brief time, so I've tried many varieties. While I would not say La Perla is not exactly true authentic, the menu is good, and the food they serve is made with quality ingredients. It's no Topolobampo or Frontera Grill, but it is decent Mexican food and the restaurant is clean.

                    I disagree with Mo's. They have great steaks. I've had better meals there than I have at Gibsons in Chicago.

                    1. re: RickR

                      I agree that La Perla isn't terrible, but I think even in Milwaukee you can do better. Cempazuchi in particular, or Taqueria Azteca. Or, in the same neighborhood as La Perla, Conejito's for a cheap, fast (and I think more delicious) bite.

                      And I also disagree with you about the supposed lack of spectacular restaurants in Milwaukee. I suppose this is a taste issue, but the meals I've had at both Bacchus and Mason Street Grille (which I think serves a steak roughly 1000x better than Mo's) have cleanly outstripped all but two meals I've had in New York where I live now. I think if you are the sort who likes interesting preparations, exotic and challenging flavors, and modern-haute-cuisine type restaurants then Milwaukee might be a tad disappointing. I, on the other hand, find those restaurants too often lacking in real gastronomic punch, even Sanford. Milwaukee is a great city in which to eat out if you value the typically Midwestern culinary virtue of being "stuffed to your guts" above, say, being able to detect a hint of fennel pollen on your sea urchin roe risotto or having your knowledge of olive oil appellations being stroked. I mean, there's nothing wrong with those kinds of food, but if that's the value system by which you judge every kind of restaurant, then yes, you're in trouble in Milwaukee. (By the way, I'm not necessarily accusing you here, I just merely feel compelled to defend Milwaukee as I think it's one of the best eating cities I've ever been to in this country. :))