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Jul 19, 2008 11:28 AM

The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, WI area

Hi hounds!
We are hounds in Los Angeles area that will be visiting Milwaukee for the first time. We are very excited to be heading there but, won't have much time to try much, as most of our trip is being planned by other people.

We are on our own for one to two lunches and would like to stay close to the hotel. I'd be willing to venture out further if public transportation is REALLY EASY (like the San Francisco BART or NYC Metro) but, if it isn't then I won't bother as we don't have that much time anyway.

I'm dying to try a good custard as there is NOTHING like it to be found here. I've heard that Leon's is the place to be but am not sure about its proximity to the hotel...
For lunch, I'd like to try a place that offers food that, again, has nothing like it to be found in Los Angeles.

So, what are some good places for Milwaukee's regional specialties/lunch and custard that are close to the hotel?

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  1. Leon's is not close to the hotel. For custard you could try ELsa's. They aren't a custard stand but ELsa's is owned by Carl Kopp and Kopp's is another great custard stand with locations all over Milwaukee. Elsa's doesn't make custard there but they may have some on the dessert menu. ELsa's is also a great place to have a casual lunch and the atmosphere is good.

    Karl Ratzsch's is a German restaurant near the Pfister

    Milwaukee has a trolley car system you could try if you aren't in any particular hurry.
    The trolleys operate 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesdays-Saturdays from June through August. The route rolls through Westown, East Town and the Historic Third Ward neighborhoods with stops at many Downtown attractions, including the Milwaukee Public Market, Midwest Airlines Center, Milwaukee Public Museum, Jazz in the Park, River Rhythms, the farm markets, Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, Betty Brinn Children's Museum, and the theater and hotel districts. And it's free.
    Here is a link that will help with info on Milwaukee downtown,

    1 Reply
    1. re: Living4fun

      Wow! That is awesome news about the trolley car and, something I will definitely use while I'm there. Are they any hound-ish stops that are close to the other stops on the trolley?
      Thank you for your extremely informative post!

    2. Well, for something you can't find anywhere else, there's Real Chili, on Wells St. between Jefferson and Milwaukee (ie, same north-south streets that border the Pfister, just two blocks north to Wells.)

      It leans somewhat toward Cincinnati style chili, but carries more of a punch in terms of heat.

      Cubanita's on Milwaukee is an interesting Cuban place, Zarletti also on Milwaukee for good Italian. but you can get that, or those in LA, I'm sure.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mike_d

        oooo! Chili! I love a good chili! You don't understand how excited I am to try Real Chili! I'm soooo there and reporting back... thanks!

      2. Be sure and visit the Milwaukee Public Market at the entrance to the 3rd Ward.

        At the Pfister (which I think is a gorgeous hotel), Blu cocktail bar on the 23rd floor has spectacular views, and I also like their Lobby bar.

        For two totally different, but true Milwaukee lunches, on the upscale side, visit the Art Museum (actually, a don't miss whatever you do), then have lunch afterwards at a window table at Coast, overlooking the lake. Totally the opposite end is a beer & brat outside on the patio at The Harp, overlooking the river.

        Guess I'll have to try the trolley some time, but Milwaukee is a fairly easy town to walk. I'm from Newport Beach, but my mother in law lives there, so we're back a lot & I love Milwaukee. Also... got to do the Safe House at least once in your life :) I'm sure your friends can help with that.

        1. If you have time, hop the trolley (or a bus) to the Milwaukee Public Market. You can grab a picnic lunch, then eat it by the river.

          Or check out this old thread on downtown eats, including a hot-dog vendor that serves Usinger's meats:

          Re Living4fun's post above, Elsa's seems to have only Häagen Dazs ice cream, not custard (according to the dessert menu online). Unfortunately, I don't think there are any custard stands near downtown. Me, I'd brave the bus system or take a cab to a custard stand. It looks like the closest one might be Omega Burger (on Kinnickinnic). I really like Leon's (at Oklahoma & 27th - see ), but it's further away.

          When you get to the Pfister, you could talk to the concierge about logistics or other on-the-spot suggestions for a custard fix.

          Good luck,

          1. Kopps is a must for custard. You can find out their flavor of the day to assist in your planning here: . The one on 7361 Layton has the best atmosphere of the 3.

            Real Chili is reasonably close and a good bowl of red.

            The Safehouse is a fun experience. The food isn't exceptional, but going into the phone booth and plopping a quarter in there is definitely worth it.

            La Perla has some great chicken chimichangas (and more tequila than you could sample in a year). The nightlife is very good, as well.