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Two good Milwaukee experiences

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I travel to the Waukesha area 2-3 times a year on business. In my previous trips, I've struck out in Waukesha, Pewaukee, Delafield, Brookfield, and Milwaukee. Following some recs from poster Anne in Mpls, I tried a couple of new spots. Winners both.

Cempazuchi

This is a Mexican (and pretty authentic at that) place on Brady Street (a part of town that--using Twin Cities lingo--I can best describe as Dinkytown meets Uptown meets Cedar/Riverside). There were a few sidewalk tables that were occupied, so I ate inside.

Chips were brought out with two salsas, one of which was a peanut/cinnamonn-flavored one. That was a refreshing change of pace. I ordered one of the specialty maragartias, and it was shaken and poured at the table. It was also the strongest margarita I've ever had. Not that I'm complaining. But then I switched to Carta Blanca.

I started with the ceviche. Finely cut fish, scallops, and octopus (hooray) mixed with chopped tomatoes and onions, served in a martini class with chips. I liked seeing the octopus. The flavor was fine. I wish the fish and seafood pieces weren't cut so small.

On my server's recommendation, I then had the tacos al pastor. This restaurant's version consisted of marinated duck served in organic blue corn tortillas, and topped with onion and pineapple. A mango-tomato salsa was served alongside. Great flavor to the duck.

It was a Tuesday evening, and business was steady. It was a lot of food, and it's a good thing I couldn't find a parking spot within six blocks (got to walk off some of dinner).

Triskele's

Driving to Triskele's I didn't know what to expect. It is on a corner of a section of town where working-class neighborhood meets industrial (not commerical). I saw no other retail or entertainment nearby. Miller Lite and Pabst neon signs were in the windows. My first thought upon walking in was "This seems like the kind of place that would serve a Friday Night Fish Fry." Guess what? They do! This did NOT seem like the kind of place that offered the menu items I saw on the menu. So it was a very pleasant surprise.

It was Wednesday, and the Wednesday specials include half price pints and half price bottles of wine. The wine list did nothing for me, so I had a couple of pints (Lakefront IPA and Sprecher Amber).

The menu is first divided into three sections--meat, seafood, and vegetarian. Within each are startes, salads and sandwiches, and entrees. From the meat column, I started with the grilled asparagus salad served with crispy proscuitto, sherry vinaigrette, and topped with a poached egg. The asparagus spears were on the thin side, and there weren't many of them, but the flavor was very good.

I then told my server I was undecided between three entree choices, and she recommended I go with the baked make-your-own macaroni and cheese. It's amke-your-own because you can select cheddar, goat, or gorgonzola. I chose gorgonzola. And even though it's in the vegetarian column, you can add chicken or Andouille sausage. I added the Andouille. The sauce was creamy, and was the right amount for the amount of pasta. It was a huge portion, and I couldn't finish it.

My server asked me if I wanted dessert. To which, I responded, "You can't tell me that people finish that mac and cheese AND order dessert." She admitted that it does indeed happen, but not very often.

There are dishes at both of these places I'd like to try, so a second visit is likely. I also need to get to La Merenda, but will probably save that for a time when I'm not dining solo.

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  1. Totally concur with Cempazuchi! My daughter & I fell in there on Friday afternoon & shared one of the best bowls of guac & chips ever - and I'm from SoCal & thought mine was the best... Although I preferred the roasted salsa, I agree the pennut cinnamon was an interesting change of pace. 'Rose' Margaritas with pomegranite juice also excellent. Tried to get back in Sat night during the Brady St. festival - what a zoo & no way that was going to happen. But we liked the guac & ritas so much, we stopped on the way to the airport for a repeat yesterday! I've already promised her a dinner there when we're back in September.

    1. The moles at Cempazuchi are also quite good. Not the equal of the Oaxacan at Jalapeno Loco, but very good.

      1. Whew, I'm glad I didn't steer you wrong! Thanks for the mouthwatering reviews. Now I wanna go back to Milwaukee!

        At Triskele's, I love the ambiance of "upscale food in a downscale corner bar". I wonder if there other places like this in Milwaukee - perhaps Triskele's is unique, so far, in this regard?

        You're right that La Merenda is better with companions so you can share more dishes. A solo diner could only eat 2 dishes or so. But if that's your only option, I'd go anyway.

        Anne