HOME > Chowhound > Great Lakes >


Good Eats In Milwaukee?

I am new to Milwaukee and need the scoop on the where to eat. I am a true foodie (think Adam Richman from Man v. Food) so give me those great spots that know how to serve the good stuff. Here's my wish list of foods but I'll take any suggestions:

Burgers (the messier the better)
Pizza (this is a staple of my food supply)
Tex Mex (I know there's a lot of authentic mexican up here and I respect that but I'm a tex mex guy)
BBQ (I used to live in the south so if you're gonna suggest something it better be good)
Samiches (sandwiches to most people but messy cheesy goodness to me)

Thanks in advance fellow Chowhounds!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If it's still there...Kopp's for burgers, in this Disney-Epcot-Tomorrowland cement dome...AWESOME burgers, skinny fries and fantastic frozen custard!

    1. I haven't found any pizza that I like in Milwaukee (I'm a Chicago native, so my standards are high). For burgers, I second the Kopp's suggestion: the butter burger there, and at Culver's, is a Milwaukee classic. You should probably abandon your dreams of Tex Mex and BBQ and try to develop a taste for frozen custard...

      1. For burgers, you have to try Sobelman's Pub and Grill-Get the Sobelman Burger (or better yet the double) and thank me later!

        For Pizza I like Zaffiros or Balistreri's on 68th.

        Speed Queen BBQ is a must.

        Tex Mex-I have no idea

        The corned beef at Jakes is awesome.
        Suburpia has some good sandwiches.
        The Philly Way makes a really good cheese steak sandwich to satisfy the messy cheesy requirement.

        Sobelmans Pub & Grill
        1900 W Saint Paul Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53233

        Speed Queen Bar-B-Q
        1130 W Walnut St, Milwaukee, WI 53205

        Jake's Delicatessen
        1634 W North Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53205

        Zaffiro's Pizza & Bar
        1724 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202

        Balistreri's Italian-American
        812 N 68th St, Milwaukee, WI 53213

        Original Suburpia
        10853 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226

        Philly Way
        405 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204

        4 Replies
        1. re: David Z

          A second on Sobelman's. If you're on the east side, Hooligan's has a number of burger options, all of which are good.

          Zaffiro's is good. Lisa's Pizza on Oakland is my fave. I don't think you can find a deep dish like Chicago has, but I grew up in Chicago on thin crust anyway. Haven't had Angelo's (near Marquette) in years but hear it's still good. Near Sobelman's

          Haven't made it to the Philly Way, but again an east side substitute is Chubby's Cheesesteaks, and yes they have CheezWhiz

          1. re: mike_d

            Yeah, Philly Way is, in fact, comparable to a true Philly cheesesteak (having lived there for 4 years) if that's what you crave (though whenever in Philly I'm much more interested in the roast pork w/spicy greens, but that's another post).

            Pizza crust is really thin here, to a cracker-like degree, which I'm only so-so about (Lisa's, Pizza Man, Marchese's Olive Pit).

            I'd second Elsa's for burgers.

            And I'd throw out that you should hit up some local-style places. Old German Beer Hall seems at first like a place to get half-assed bar food but it'll really impress with the sausages and if they have this hard-boiled egg/meaty thing w/mustard, eat the hell out of that thing.

            Cafe Hollander/Trocadero's (same owner) both are very solid for both brunch and dinner, both with excellent beer selections (try regional breweries like Capital and Founders).

            I'd also mention that one of my favorite things about living here is the completely foreign yet delightful practice of everyone giving you a beer chaser with your bloody mary. I've never seen this elsewhere in the US, but I think it should become mandatory.

            Fish fries, I'd add, are not just hype. The average pub here has achieved a mastery of batter and crispness, along with freshness of fish, that would probably put them in any sort of "top fish and chips" list elsewhere in the US.

            And this, "I define Tex Mex as being a bolder flavor than Authentic Mexican," well, those are fighting words but as I live in the midwest now I will let it go in the interest of being a welcoming new neighbor.


            1. re: joypirate

              I'm with you on the pizza crust, I like thin but not cracker thin.

              Egg, meat and mustard? I'm in for trying that!

              It didn't take me long to figure out that fish fry fridays are akin to a religious experience around here. I'm not a big fried fish fan, although I have consumed many meals in the south that were nothing but "golden brown goodness", mostly chicken. With that said you've sold me on trying the fish!

              I'm not looking to fight just eat so maybe I'll find some authentic Mexican that will change my opinion, I hope so!


          2. re: David Z

            David you know how to eat, bro! You only missed to must trys, McBobs on 49th and North, corned beef or tacos(they claim tacos are Gaelic) and Solly's. Their burgers don't drip butter, they pour butter from them. Milwaukee classic.

          3. I also recommend Sobleman's for burgers.

            Cafe Lulu in Bay View has a great sandwich selection.

            Pizza . We like Ann's in Hales Corners.

            BBQ I'd go with Speed Queen too.

            Tex Mex There are plenty of places but I don't know if they live up to true Tex Mex.

            1. Welcome to Milwaukee. if you can tell us what side of town you are located in, we may be able to help you with nearby places.

              For burgers (and messy ones at that), no one can beat Solly's. Great shakes too.

              Sobelman's is a really good burger too if you prefer a bar setting to a diner.

              Lalli's Pizza is the best I've found since the original Al Calderone on the east side closed. They do not have a website, they are located at 8826 W North Ave. Cash Only, and no inside seating, but if the weather is mild, there are some tables outside. Also, I havent been to Maria's Pizza, but this place LOOKS fantastic!

              BBQ being as subjective a thing on a par with chili, and you being from the south, you might not find much to like here. Speed Queen is really good, and their sauce is some of the best, but Ashley's at 1501 W Center should not be overlooked. Carry-out only, and there is not much ambiance to the neighborhood, but their rib tips are the best.

              But speaking of chili, if you can accept Cincinnati-style chili as chili at all, Real Chili (two locations, both on Wells) does it really well.

              Jake's for corned beef, Suburpia for subs. My own personal favorite for hot dogs is Mike's Red Hots at 6914 N Teutonia (pronounced TIE-tone-ya, NOT TOO-tone-ya. The latter will peg you as a newbie).

              Like the others so far, I am unable to recommend a place for Tex-Mex.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Fydeaux

                Real Chili is a must try for a Milwaukee resident. Simply classic.

                1. re: cscott4313

                  What's the difference between Cincinnati chili and Milwaukee chili?

                  and can someone please tell us more about the bloody mary - beer chaser phenomenon? is this a brunch thing?

                  1. re: sarapeater

                    I've only seen it at brunch but that's also the only time i order one, so not sure. Some places don't even ask if you want it, they just bring it out. Some ask. It's almost always a small glass of beer (a highball glass sometimes), or even special tiny bottles (i've seen corona and heineken). it's always a lighter beer, like a hoegarden or something in that neighborhood.

                    1. re: sarapeater

                      Milwaukee, for all the great things that can be said about it, never seems to have developed a truly native chili tradition. Therefore, the styles of chili to be found here all derived from other places, be it Cincinnati, Texas, or what have you. There is Green Bay-style chili, but I have never had it that I can recall, so I dont know what distinguishes it.

                      As for Bloody Marys, they are often served with a small beer on the side. Many people like to have the beer as an ingredient, and it is not unusual to have a bartender ask if you want the beer in the drink or on the side. (I have heard the beer in the drink version referred to as red beer.) I dont think this is strictly local, as I can recall having Bloody Marys in both New Orleans and New Mexico with beer served on the side without asking for it.

                      1. re: Fydeaux

                        Made with clamato juice and beer (among other things), a bloddy mary is turned into a "red sky." Wonderful drink, but in no way native to Milwaukee. I recently saw them being served in Puerto Vallarta (obviously, called "rojo cielo" there). On a seperate note, I have heard roomers of some bloddy mary's being served with sausage sticks in them, along with the cellery and whatever. Only in Milwaukee could you find this haha.

                        1. re: cscott4313

                          yeah, comet cafe has a bacon bloody mary. and old german beer hall has bratwurst chili.

                        2. re: Fydeaux

                          ok. I'd never heard of Mke Chili either. That makes me feel better.

                          but the bloody mary + beer thing still has me spinning. I love it. I'll get back to you after I dig around

                          1. re: Fydeaux

                            If I remember correctly, the original owner of Real Chili got his recipe from Chili John's in Green Bay. So, if you've had Real Chili......

                    2. Just thinking that along with location in the area, maybe an example of a TexMex dish that you really want would help. 'Cause I think I know what you mean by TexMex, but I could be wrong. And it could be that you could get something good at El Rey that might fit the bill.

                      1. Wow...thanks everyone for the great suggestions, I've got my weekend meals planned for a while!

                        As for the elusive Tex Mex, there isn't a particular entree I prefer as much as the overall approach to seasoning. I define Tex Mex as being a bolder flavor than Authentic Mexican. I place a a lot of stock in the salsa, it all kind of starts there for me. Beyond that I pretty much like all the standard fare: Burritos, Tacos, Enchiladas, Beans, Rice, etc. Down South you close your eyes, throw a rock and you'll hit two places that serve good-to-great Tex Mex...I'm going to miss that!

                        Thanks again everyone and keep the suggestions coming!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Eitsorf

                          I'd give one of the El Rey stores a shot. Not that they don't have authentic Mexican, but it's not like it's Oaxacan mole at Jalapeno Loco. Might try Hector's in Tosa. I haven't been in years but they used to do good stuff. The best tacos I ever had were there. Habanero sauce on the meat, onion, cilantro. Cried all the way thru. Perfect flavor along with monster heat. I don't recommend the Jaliso's on North Ave.


                          1. re: mike_d

                            I think the tacos at Jalisco's are ok, but yeah, the enchiladas are truly awful. Their pork tacos in red chili sauce are actually a "cochinita pibil", a yucatan style pork that's pretty tasty (could stand to be spicier though) and solid with a dos equis at their bar for a quick dinner talking baseball with their staff.

                        2. Beyond your original types of food, I hope you expand to the other fantastic ethnic cuisine that reflects Milwaukee's cultural mix.

                          For instance, the gourmet Polish food at Polonez in Cudahy. See what they do with mushroom soup or the pierogi or the potato pancakes, not to mention an extensive selection of Polish beers, liqueurs and vodkas.

                          Serb food-surprising and sophisticated. The fish dishes, fresh made sausages and cheeses at Old Town on Lincoln Ave., not to mention the Old World charm. Oh, and the goulashes.

                          Then there is the Hmong population, which has a pretty great expression at Ventiane Palace on National, where the pho, the house-made beef jerky and the avocado shakes are my favorite.

                          As for burgers, let every man vote his conscience. As for me, I say you must drive out to Burlington for a Fred's Parkview Burger if you want to truly live.

                          As for wings, Garibaldi's on the south side.
                          Custard? Leon's.
                          Gourmet? Sanford.

                          Oh, and the Mexican food here is generally norteno food, but you'll find good carnitas at Taqueria Tepechy and good cabrito by a restaurant bearing that name off 6th.
                          Good luck.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Bring Back the Stein

                            I really appreciate your ethnic food suggestions. I'm hoping to find some good alternatives for my status quo foods but, to your point, I'd like to add new foods to my list just as much!

                            I have been to Leon's, had a chocolate malt. I'm very picky with my malts and it was excellent! Looking forward to going back.

                            Thanks again!

                          2. My favorite pizza is from Marco's on Lisbon. Take-out only. I keep the toppings to a minimum, usually cheese, sausage (really great sausage), black olives, perhaps extra sauce ( great sauce too!)
                            The crust is excellent..

                            8411 W Lisbon Ave
                            Milwaukee, WI 53222
                            (414) 461-1100‎

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: carts2

                              Is this the same place that used to be on Burleigh (I think) near St. Joe's?

                              1. re: mike_d

                                How long ago? Marco's has been in the Lisbon location for at least the last 11 years, which is when I moved to the neighborhood.

                                I think there is another location on S 27th St somewhere.

                                1. re: Fydeaux

                                  Oh, ancient history, 25 years ago........

                            2. I grew up in Milwaukee. Haven't been back in a long time so am out of touch with the local places, but we always had pizza at Papa Luigi's in Cudahy on Layton Ave. Back then, it was a hole-in-the-wall place with only 6 tables and cheesy red checkered vinyl table cloths. According to his website, it looks rather posh now.


                              Looks like he opened another location in South Milwaukee now (my home town). I remember my parents chatting with Sal - the owner - all the time when we'd go there. I was usually playing Caterpillar on the old Atari arcade unit while we waited for our pizza. It's a thin crust pizza sort of like a cracker. I miss it.

                              1. Martino's at 27th and Layton near the airport for excellent chicago style italian beef and hot dogs.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: biga290

                                  Shoot! I used to teach right there, and never tried it. Guess I'll have to go on an eating trip to Milwaukee soon.

                                  1. re: jenniegirl

                                    you can obviously get as good in chicago but for being 90 miles north martino's is a real treat. we live on the east coast but whenever we fly into mke (our son goes to uw) we head straight for martino's.

                                    1. re: biga290

                                      Martino's is very good, but if you like that, you need to try Sammy's on Greenfield Ave, just east of Hwy 100. Great italian beef and supurb hot dogs and fries.

                                2. Fore pizza, Classic Slice on KK in Bay View. Their pizza closely resembles New York style and the slices are "bigger than your head" as they tout... actually closer to half of a large pizza (think of the slice Adam Richman holds up next to the baby). All slices are made fresh to order, not par cooked, with premium ingredients and wide range of toppings. Seriously great pizza.

                                  1. Went to Sobelman's last night with a friend visiting from Boston, what a great place! Friendly, casual atmosphere and good food for a fair price. I got the Sobelman Burger, based on my tastes I'd give it a 7 out of 10. The quality of the meat, toppings and bun was top notch but the flavor was a bit lacking for me.

                                    Hoping to try Speed Queen next!

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: Eitsorf

                                      I am surprised more people aren't in to the Nite Owl Drive-In for burgers.
                                      They are amazing and there's a third generation rock-a-billy cook at the grill.
                                      Great shakes and crinkle-cut fries. I love the Nite-Owl and feel it is oft overlooked. http://tinyurl.com/dcllu6

                                      1. re: MissMaybelline

                                        Oh my gosh, I totally forgot about the Nite Owl! My grandparents lived on that street for nearly 60 years before they moved out here to Phoenix with my parents. I grew up walking down to the Nite Owl for a cone in the summers.

                                        1. re: Jen76

                                          I grew up in Milwaukee (south side) and I've never heard of the Nite Owl... Was this the place near the airport? Didn't they close years ago?

                                          And I know the OP didn't ask but Coerper's 5 O'Clock Club has the best steaks in the Midwest. I live in NYC now and it puts Peter Luger's to shame.

                                          Agree with what everyone else has to say:
                                          BBQ- Speed Queen
                                          Burgers- Kopps, Sobelman's
                                          Pizza- Zaffiro's (if you want a stuffed pie you can try Edwaurdo's on Hwy 100)
                                          Tex Mex- I'm no expert but wouldn't La Fuentes or La Perla work for this?
                                          Best malt- Kopps (but I've never really tried anywhere else)
                                          Thai- it might not be authentic but the Volcano Chicken and The King and I is a must-have when I visit

                                          And whoever rec'd Martino's- thanks! I was looking for a good Italian Beef the last time I was home. Is this near Mazos? They are supposed to have an amazing burger (I've never tried it).

                                          1. re: pastoralia

                                            The Nite Owl is across the street from the airport runway on the corner of Layton/Lenox. The Packing House is on the opposite corner on the other side of Lenox. As far as I know, they are both still there, but of course, I don't live there anymore, so I only hear via word of mouth from friends that are still in Milwaukee. The Nite Owl used to only be open during the summer months. They had great burgers and ice cream. I grew up smelling the products of the fryer at the Packing House every night. Never actually ate there though.

                                            I think you may be thinking of another once popular diner that was a little further west on Layton. I cannot for the life of me remember the name now, but it closed a long, long time ago. (Maybe it was called Al's Custard?) So many memories...

                                            Nite Owl Ice Cream Parlour
                                            830 E Layton Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

                                            Packing House
                                            900 E Layton Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

                                            1. re: Jen76

                                              I guess the last two times I was there it was winter (I know- great time to visit) and the Nite Owl looked shuttered. I'll have to check it out when I go back this summer.

                                              Not sure what other place further west you're referring to...all I know is that the Brat N Stop is no more across from Howell Ave.

                                      2. re: Eitsorf

                                        I just heard today that Sobelman's is opening a second location, this one in the space abandoned by Patty Burger on Farwell. They are supposed to open on June 1.

                                        1. re: Fydeaux

                                          I read that also and I am quite excited. Grass fed burger in my neighborhood. Giddy-up!

                                          1. re: joypirate

                                            I know this thread has been asleep for a few months but I still wanted to throw my .02 in.

                                            Just tried the new Sobelmans Tallgrass last night and thought it was very respectable. Had the mushroom swiss with bacon and fried onions (call you tell I was hungover? :). All sandwiches are served with a heart side of hot, thick-cut frieds. Must be doing pretty good because all but one of the tables in there was occupied...

                                            For the TexMex genre, the newly opened El Fuego out on Layton just east of the Interstate seems to be a pretty good choice. I ate there recently and found the food to be quite tasty (and the decor was AMAZING--a huge waterfall/pond in the patio and an interior decorated to look like a market, complete with crates of fruits and veggies). I had their tacos de barbacoa, and they were delicious. Moist, rich meat served with avocado slices and lime wedges to squeeze over the top. Also enjoyed a tasty cold glass of Horchata that is probably the best I've been able to find in MKE.

                                      3. Any true- blue Wisconsin bar should offer a beer chaser. The really good ones offer for extra or sometimes included, a meat stir stick. Look for the crowded bars on packer sunday.. they will prob have a killer bloody and most likely free food, drink specials, and a raffle during the game.

                                        1. It's not Tex-Mex, but different Mexican than you've ever had before. Cempazuchi uses 18th century Oaxacan recipes. Haven't been there for years, but I'm moving back to MKE this weekend and can hardly wait to go back to my favorite restaurant.

                                          And you can't spend any amount of time in MKE without having some good German food. Some of the best places have closed (John Ernst, The Wurst Haus) but Mader's is still up and kickin'.

                                          For something a little different, try one of my other favorites: Guinness and Irish fare at County Clare Inn (http://www.countyclare-inn.com). They are located at 1234 Astor Street. Their meatloaf and mashed potatoes are to die for.

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

                                          1205 E Brady St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

                                          1. I had burgers in Milwaukee at Kopp's, at Sobelman's TallGrass location, and at the Nite Owl. All were disappointing. The burgers at Kopp's and Nite Owl were greasy and thin, and the cheese was dreadful (in Wisconsin - can you imagine!). The frozen custard at Kopp's was excellent, as were the shakes. Nite Owl (on E. Layton, near the airport) is now operated by the grandkids of the original owner and no longer remains open past 6:30 p.m. Sobelman's had a tolerable burger but nothing like what I'm used to getting in any Atlanta lunch place. For whatever reason, I have yet to find a cheeseburger worth eating in Milwaukee.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Rodasch

                                              H'm. That's a little harsh! Disappointing? Dreadful? SMH...

                                              1. re: Rodasch

                                                They are supposed to be thin. Maybe they seemed greasy because they are fried in butter? Man, I miss Kopp's burgers and Night Owl. My grandparents lived right up the street from Night Owl. I used to skip down the block to get a cone as a kid in the summer.

                                                1. re: Rodasch

                                                  i couldn't agree more w/ u...sobleman's-bland, no juices... when did a good juicy med rare burger turn into disk that's been pressed, smashed and is missing all its flavor??

                                                2. I just returned from a week in Milwaukee. This was not my first visit to Milwaukee by a long shot, but it was my first visit after I found Chowhound. I ate at four places I found on Chowhound: Zarletti (Italian); Cempazuchi (Mexican); Three Brothers (Serbian); and Triskele's (a neighborhood place with no particular ethnic description). The last three were magnificent.

                                                  Cempazuchi was friendly, with good service and fresh food. I had a lunch of spicy soup (Sopa Azteca) and the daily special (flautas, guacamole, brown rice, black beans). Chips were served upon arrival, with two salsas (one peanut-based, one tomato-based). The salsas were good, but I wish they had been served in wider dishes (the dishes were of narrow diameter, which made it a bit difficult to dip the chips).

                                                  Three Brothers served me a really great dinner. I had the "Serbian salad," with very fresh tomatoes, onions, greens, and cheese. The roast lamb was tasty and aromatic, right out of the kitchen and hot. I was surprised to see what a full bar it had. I didn't expect to find ouzo at a Serbian restaurant. CAVEAT: No credit cards accepted. Bring cash or a check.

                                                  Triskele's (pronounced, I think, "Tris-Kelly's) closed at 9:00, but when I arrived at a few minutes after 9:00 they were kind enough to accommodate me. Everything was freshly made. I had a dish of housemade chicken & fennel sausage with freshly made gnocchi, all in a very tasty cream-based sauce. The portions were large (I also saw what other diners were having as dishes were carried to the various tables) and the food was delivered to my table still steaming. Once again, very friendly and attentive service.

                                                  I wouldn't go to Zarletti again, simply because it's too expensive and I didn't feel it was good value for the money. It's in the upscale area in Milwaukee's business district, so I expected the high prices, but nothing I ordered (panzanella, osso buco, risotto, dessert of mixed gelati and sorbetti) was special. I'm the sort who would rather eat in smaller, unpretentious, neighborhood establishments than in the fancy, expensive, downtown eatery that Zarletti is, and because I was in town for a week I had a rental car and the ability to get around to various neighborhoods. Even so, Milwaukee is not so big that a cab ride anywhere would be prohibitive (and probably pay itself back both in excellence of the meal and in cost as well).

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Rodasch

                                                    Kopp's for burgers and frozen custard; Speed Queen for Bar-B-Que; Solly's for BUTTER Burgers; Palermo Villa for homemade Italian and pizza--On Murray Ave. (East Side). Pizza Man on North Ave. for Pizza; Mexican--La Perla--or go to 5th and National and walk around--there's plenty of places. Coerper's 5 O'Clock Club for Steaks; And Slim McGinn's on 2nd and Florida for Fish Fry and PBR specials......

                                                    1. re: KSully623

                                                      I gotta say it--Sobelman's is the most over-rated burger I've ever had. It's good, but it's not that good. I can't understand why people flock to it.

                                                      The burgers are better at Northpoint. The burgers are better at Culvers or Five Guys. Triskele's has a better burger.

                                                      I'll grant MKE is not a great burger town. But the Bayview burger at Centraal is better, the pattymelt at Juniper is better. If you want a great burger, go to Caribou in Madison, George's in Iowa City, Hamburg Inn in Iowa City, or Sombrero in Burlington, IA. Just a few of my favorites within 5 hours.

                                                      Not trying to harsh on Sobel, but I don't get the cult following.

                                                      I guess it's personal taste. I like my burger cooked behind a bar while I'm gulping a cold one (George's, Caribou and Sombrero). But they are all great. Forget about fries; savor the beef.

                                                      And for pizza, did no one mention Olive Pit? This is the best joint in town.

                                                      1. re: Milwhawkeye

                                                        Do any of you Milwaukeeans know of the burger place that's on the southside? I think it's somewhere in the 20s off Ramsey Ave? It begins with an "M" I think. I've never been there but old-timers insist it's the best in Milwaukee.

                                                        I'm a Kopp's fan but I wonder if it has to do with nostalgia because everytime I go back to Milwaukee (from NYC now) Kopp's is my first stop and I always love it.

                                                        1. re: pastoralia

                                                          Could it be Mazos? It's around 27th & Oklahoma, and is known to be inexpensive but quite good for the money, but not the best around. I've never eaten there but they are always at State Fair.

                                                          I have recently been getting excellent burgers at The 4th Base on National near the VA.

                                                          1. re: Fydeaux

                                                            Maybe that is the place? It sounds familiar.

                                                  2. I was born and raised in Milwaukee and left in 1997 to liver in New York. I went back to visit a couple of months ago and these are the places I recommend in my foodie opinion.

                                                    Right off the plane the debate was between Kopp’s and Oakland Gyros (the one on Layton Ave…five blocks from the airport). We decided on Oakland Gyros. A good call. Huge portions, fluffy pitas, fresh feta, tangy tzaziki…damn fine way to start.


                                                    We checked into our hotel: The Iron Horse. Best hotel in the Midwest. Don’t believe me? Look up customer reviews on tripadvisor.

                                                    That night, instead of having a great meal, we went to the Milwaukee Ale House for great beer. Delicious beer, fun atmosphere, huge space with river views. We ended up eating some wings and nachos (it’s vacation). They were either the best things we ever had or we were drunk.


                                                    The next morning we had brunch at Café Hollander for their breakfast burger (beef patty, gouda cheese, 2 eggs, tomato, lettuce and bacon).


                                                    Wasn’t as good as I remembered but the Bloody Mary with a shot of beer was still mighty palatable.


                                                    After a day of tooling around we hit up 3 Brothers for dinner. We arrived at 6pm with reservations but it didn’t seem necessary since there were only four other people in the restaurant. Even though I’ve lived in Milwaukee all of my life I, regrettably, never ate here until now. A wonderful meal. We started with the chicken and dumpling soup and the Serbian salad. Simple ingredients that exploded in your mouth with flavor. Get the salad. It’s magical. I went with the roast pork while my wife had the lamb shank. Both fell off the bone. Delicious. You cannot go wrong here.



                                                    We followed this up with a two-block walk to the Palomino Bar. My new favorite place. They serve southern comfort food but we stuck to the $2 PBR’s.


                                                    The next day was a trip to Kopp’s for lunch. Everyone whoever moves out of Milwaukee knows that a trip home is incomplete without a trip to Kopp’s. If you’ve never been and you’re in Milwaukee it’s a MUST EAT.


                                                    Full on Kopp’s we hit up some North Avenue bars (Vitucci’s, The Landmark, the sadly defunct Von Trier’s) and ended up at everyone’s favorite Mexican late night love/hate spot Jalisco’s. Is it good food? I don’t know…I’ve never had it sober.


                                                    Breakfast the following day was at Alterra’s great space down by the lakefront for a perfectly portioned sized chorizo breakfast burrito. Delicious.


                                                    Later that day we stopped at Speed Queen BBQ. My wife found the sauce too sweet and the meat a little to fatty. I have always loved this place but I had to agree with her. Maybe it was an off day? Maybe my taste buds had been overexposed to too much booze and good food? I don’t know but afterwards I sort of felt like I should have had something else.


                                                    OK…the days are blurring together and I’m even starting to bore myself. Here are the places you can’t miss in Milwaukee.

                                                    Coerper’s 5 O’Clock Club. Some old-timers say it’s not the same. I don’t care. It’s the best steak I’ve ever had. Period. It shames Brooklyn’s Peter Lugers. This place is A MUST for carnivores. Good God it’s fucking good.


                                                    Zaffiro’s Pizza. There’s a lot of thin crust pizza places and everyone has their favorite they grew up with. I grew up with the now defunct Pepi’s off Forest Home. Zaffiro’s is every bit as good. People here in New York don’t understand what I’m talking about when I saw “cracker-thin” crust. They think they have the market cornered on pizza. They are wrong. Zaffiro’s is every bit as delicious at DiFara’s in Brooklyn.


                                                    Fish Fry at the Palm Garden inside the Lakefront Brewery. Polka Band. Beer battered fish. Giant dance hall. Potato pancakes. This is the place.


                                                    Other places:
                                                    -Comet Café on Farwell
                                                    -Koppa’s Deli (just go inside to see the strange and wonderful decorations. Pick up a t-shirt



                                                    -Smyth Restaurant inside The Iron Horse Hotel. I wish I’d taken pictures of my meal but I didn’t. Fresh, local ingredients. Impeccable presentation and service. A great high-end spot for dinner. The bar (Branded) inside the hotel also has wonderful high-end bar food. Try the Beer-Cheese soup. It’ll blow your mind.

                                                    -Fuel Café for the Seattle in the 90’s punk rock feeling.
                                                    -George Webbs at least once for breakfast or bar time burgers, eggs, and hashbrowns.

                                                    -Mar’s Cheese Castle in Kenosha. A cheese store/restaurant/bar? Why not? In the 70’s it was also a motel. Only in Wisconsin.

                                                    -O&H Kringle in Racine.
                                                    -The Milwaukee Public Market for food shopping or lunch
                                                    -The Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago for their famous Apple Pie baked in a bag. It’s like rainbows and unicorns of goodness in your mouth. Worth the trip believe me.

                                                    If you’re visiting Milwaukee for the first time you can’t go wrong with these choices. There are others to be sure…next time.

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: pastoralia

                                                      Excellent post. FYI, Sendik's on Oakland sells the Elegant Farmer apple pie if one doesn't feel like making the drive.

                                                      1. re: joypirate

                                                        Whoa...that is an interesting piece of info! Do you know if it just the one on Oakland or do all of their stores carry it?

                                                        1. re: pastoralia

                                                          I know that the Sendiks in Greenfield also sells the Elegant Farmers apple pie in a bag, so maybe they all do.

                                                          1. re: Living4fun

                                                            They have to be available all over: they sell them at the Skywalk Deli at Froedtert Hospital.

                                                      2. re: pastoralia

                                                        Great review - gotta try Lakefront (not) Brewery - didn't know it had a Palm Garden... Sounds like you had an amazing time - jealous.

                                                        1. re: torta basilica

                                                          Just so you know the Palm Garden is inside the Lakefront Brewery.

                                                          Definitely try it...great time was had by all!


                                                        2. re: pastoralia

                                                          Oakland gyros are not are as good as Ouzo's

                                                          1. re: bigguns

                                                            I'm finding Cosmos' gyros to be right up there with Oakland and the place on Appleton (can't think of the name off the top of my head).

                                                            1. re: Nezrite

                                                              I definitely agree on Cosmos. Damn good burgers too. Certainly the best gyros I've found on the west side.

                                                              Cosmos Cafe
                                                              7203 W North Ave, Wauwatosa, WI 53213

                                                        3. Hey folks, I found another burger that surpasses Sobelman's--the burger at Coquette Cafe. $9.50 for bacon/gruyere/onion relish burger and fries. Why go to a cramped bar in the valley or a characterless strip mall storefront on Farwell when you can get better burgers in quality atmosphere. Also, what's the deal with Sobelman's lettuce--they're the only outfit I know that uses the husk of iceberg lettuce on a burger.

                                                          Also, just want to post a thumbs up for Honey Pie in Bay View. Great pork tenderloin, tasty pork fries, good BBQ. Oddly, the pie was just OK.

                                                          Go Hawks! 9-0.

                                                          1. MiCocina in Brookfield is a great place for Mexican. What part of town do you prefer?

                                                            1. Just got back from Sobelman's Tallgrass on Farwell. Just wanted to try them one more time to see if it was me or them. It was just OK. I think I'm done with them. Among cheap burger alternatives ($7 and under), it's not bad. Just not great. But I don't get the cult. I'll stop talking about Sobelman's now.

                                                              How about COA at Bayshore? I had some tasty margs there last week.

                                                              Anyone had the Stella's breakfast yet (on MLK)? I had lunch there this week, and am curious about breakfast there. they have cafeteria style southern food (fried chicken, mac+cheese, pepper steak). It was ok, but it's not close to Mr. Perkins for quality. Plus, I'm not a huge buffet guy. Although I love the Mayura Indian buffet (next to Sobelman's Tallgrass on Farwell). Actually, that intersection is full of great food--Mayura, Comet and Koppa's deli. You can't go wrong there (well almost).

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: Milwhawkeye


                                                                Do you know anything about Abu's? The last time I was back in Milwaukee I walked by and noticed their redesign (which I didn't like) and also noticed that I couldn't see their grill anymore. The best part of their schwarma was that it was nice and crispy around the edges from grilling it over hot coals. Do they still do this? Abu's was one of my favorite places when I lived in Milwaukee but I don't want to "throw away a visit meal" and realize everything I loved about Abu's has changed.

                                                                1. re: pastoralia

                                                                  This a link to the Shepherd Express' review of the "new" Abu's

                                                                  Abu's Jerusalem of the Gold Restaurant
                                                                  1978 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202

                                                                  1. re: mike_d

                                                                    No mention of the grill. Glad to see the rosewater lemonade is still there but yes, the new interior is soulless.

                                                                    1. re: pastoralia

                                                                      AV Club in The Onion had a positive review of the revised Abu's:


                                                                      1. re: Nezrite

                                                                        An interesting article...if I still lived there I'd do it but on a limited visit there are other places I'll stick with.

                                                              2. I really like Sobelmann's burgers, but I find that actually prefer AJ Bombers. And the prices there are amazing!


                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Nezrite

                                                                  AJ Bomber's is ok. They make a decent burger. I too prefer it to Sobelman's. I don't get the mushroom burger, but I give them credit for trying something new. And I like how they borrowed the peanut theme from Five Guys. Nice to be able to snack before your meat shows up. And their peanut delivery system is fun for the kids. My 6-year old loves it.

                                                                  I just had another great burger--Dotty Dumpling in Madison. Worth a visit while in Madison, although it still doesn't beat the mighty Caribou burger.

                                                                  I had the burger at Carleton Grange last week. Too greasy, and I like greasy burgers. The bottom bun was soaked through with grease. I couldn't finish it. Friendly waitress though. Weird parking.

                                                                  Speaking of greasy, I had a Philly Way cheesesteak yesterday. So F-ing good. I love that place.

                                                                2. Mr. Shaja and I ate at Zarletti's last weekend and liked it a lot. A poster above mentioned that they thought it was pricey, but we didn't think it was out of line. The service was attentive without hovering, and gracious even though we walked in right before their dinner rush without a reservation (we were seated right away and we got a street-side table next to the bar, which we preferred to the main table area since we found it more private).

                                                                  Entrees were delicious. I had a grilled pork loin with a leek-and-mustard sauce that was creamy and light and I can't get out of my head a week later. Mr. had a veal cutlet with lemon that he said was the "gold standard" for cutlets. Soups were exquisite. Mine was a light corn chowder with a perfect balance of flavors; Mr. had the minestrone with a deep and rich taste to the broth. Only quibble would be the desserts. It was hard to find one without alcohol. The mixed berry sorbet had more of a perfumey than a berry taste.

                                                                  We would definitely go back.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: shaja

                                                                    Got a great find for ya'll...Corazon Cafe in Riverwest. Awesome brunch, great carnitas, tasty bloody mary. It's a tiny place but has a good feel and rockin' chow. Look for big outdoor area this spring. Right on Riverwest...we need more chow in that area. Joining Centro as recent outposts.

                                                                    1. re: Milwhawkeye

                                                                      Got another spot to pump up...Pho 43. It replaced the Chee-zee Grill on 43d Street south of Miller Park (in the shadow of the Froedert Malt werks).

                                                                      Anyway, it's a Vietnamese place. All of the following were tasty: pho, pork sandwich, spring roll and pork fried rice. Milwaukee seems to lack good fried rice (not you Ee-sane...yours is awesome). Worth a trip. Not high on atmosphere (it's a lame strip mall place), but that' not why you go.

                                                                      1. re: Milwhawkeye

                                                                        Well, Hawk, we disagree about the relative merits of Tallgrass, but you were spot-on correct about Pho 43! I went there for lunch today. I had a bowl of pho with beef brisket and it was sensational! It's not anywhere near my neighborhood, but I plan on being a regular. Thanks for reporting this place.

                                                                  2. I have two favorite pizza's in Milwaukee - one is Tenuta's on S. Clement. They have a great Italian menu. Their pizza is thin crust and a very popular take out as well as dine in item. If you want to eat there suggest reservations because this is a small neighborhood type place that gets very busy.
                                                                    My second is a little unusual but I love pizza. Zappa's on 27th & Ryan does carryout only. It is located inside the Mobile gas station. Their thin crust pizza is the best. I live north of Milwaukee and will drive there and eat it in my car or on the picnic table outside. It used to be Infusino's ((of Kenosha) and I'm not sure why it changed but the pizza is still great. I'm hoping if lots of people go there maybe they would open a real dine-in style place.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: chocchic

                                                                      got a new one i like a lot: Hue in Bay View. Better food than Pho 43, and real atmosphere too.

                                                                      Bay View Bar
                                                                      3008 Patterson Rd, Bay City, MI 48706

                                                                      1. re: chocchic

                                                                        I'm intrigued by this. I remember Infusino's but why in a gas station?