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Best Restaurants in Milwaukee

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We are heading to Milwaukee for a weekend from New Orleans and wanted to know what are some of the exceptional restaurants in the area.

We are either staying downtown or the Iron Horse, so we would prefer not to drive too far of a distance.

Thinking of going to either Harbor House or Bachus one night. (Do not want to do the same restaurant group twice.) Comments?

We are really looking for fine dinning with stellar food. So before I do any further research-I wanted to get some ideas on here first.

Also, any just local, good places for lunch that a tourist may not find? I was reading other posts re eating at the market.

Thanks for your advanced help!

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The Iron Horse Hotel
500 West Florida Street, Milwaukee, WI 53204

Harbor House
550 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202

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  1. How about Watt's Tea House for lunch or breakfast?

    1. Try Sanford's for dinner. Very good!!!

      1. For fine dining with stellar food, Sanford is THE best in town. In fact, it's one of the best restaurants in the entire Midwest. Don't miss it!

        For places that are a bit more casual but still have great food, I've also enjoyed Hinterland, in the Old Third Ward; Crazy Water, just south of there; and Envoy, just west of Marquette.

        Every year the food critic of the Journal-Sentinel (the local newspaper) lists his/her top 30 restaurants in town. The most recent article is at www.jsonline.com/features/dining/1025...

        And yes, for local for lunch, just go to Milwaukee Public Market. Spend time looking around, and get whatever strikes your fancy. To eat what you get, there's plenty of seating upstairs.

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        Sanford Restaurant
        1547 N Jackson St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

        Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub
        222 E Erie Street, Suite 100, Milwaukee, WI 53202

        Milwaukee Public Market
        400 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

        Crazy Water
        839 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204

        Envoy Restaurant & Lounge
        2308 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53233

        1. The Milwaukee area is home to lots of great restaurants. Is there a specific type of food you like? Here are some of my favorites:

          Sanford
          Carnevor
          Ristorante Bartolotta ( located in a nearby suburb)
          Jackson Grill
          Riverlane Inn (also in a nearby suburb)
          Five O'Clock Steakhouse (formally known as Coerpers)

          Bacchus would not make even my second or third tier lists. 3 out of 4 experiences there were disappointing.

          Would you be interested in something you might not find in New Orleans? Milwaukee has some good German, Polish and Serbian restaurants for example.

          Enjoy your stay.

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          Carnevor
          724 N Milwaukee St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

          Jackson Grill
          3736 W Mitchell St, Milwaukee, WI 53215

          9 Replies
          1. re: Fowler

            >> Milwaukee has some good German, Polish and Serbian restaurants for example.

            Two top German places that have been around forever (and are still good) are Karl Ratzsch's and Mader's, both of which are downtown.

            The only Polish place I'm familiar with is Polonez, which is on the south side near the airport.

            For Serbian food, I've heard good things about Three Brothers, which is in Bay View, south of downtown but not as far south as Polonez.

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            Three Brothers Bar & Restaurant
            2414 S Saint Clair St, Milwaukee, WI 53207

            Mader's
            1041 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203

            Karl Ratzsch's Restaurant
            320 E Mason St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

            Polonez Restaurant
            4016 S Packard Ave, Saint Francis, WI 53235

            1. re: nsxtasy

              A few comments regarding your recommendations Nsxtasy...

              Thanks for providing some specific examples and I like your recs! Ratzsch's and Mader's are the two best German restaurants in Milwaukee. I like how you mentioned that they are "still good" , because a number of German restaurants have gone down hill or even out of business (usually for a very good reason!).

              For people that do not know, while they are similar, they are also so different. Ratzsch's is very old world German while Maders sort of reinvented themselves into a more modern new world German restaurant. Tough to say which is better. Which do you prefer, Nsxtasy?

              As far as Serbian, "the peoples choice" in magazine polls usually goes to Three Brothers but my friends and I prefer Old Town Serbian. I should mention that none of us are Serbian though. :-) But we do recognize better ingredients and better execution in the preparation of a Serbian meal.

              If I could only have one meal in Milwaukee though, it would be at Sanford.

              1. re: Fowler

                When it comes right down to it, it is a toss-up on any given day as to whether the food at Old Town Serbian is actually better than Three Brothers or vice versa. But the rest of the dining experience is completely different. Old Town is pretty much of a white tablecloth kind of place; at Three Brothers, if you have a table for four, you are likely to have items from five different sets of silverware and three different sets of dishes.

                An analogy the OP would hopefully understand, Three Brothers = Coop's, Old Town = Marigny Brasserie. Old Town is MUCH easier to find, however.

                Sanford is indeed the bench mark for fine dining in Milwaukee, but if 'casual fine dining' is acceptable, I strongly recommend Meritage and Juniper 61. Neither are right in the downtown area, but this is Milwaukee, and you can get anywhere in 20 minutes if you drive faste enough.

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                Juniper 61
                6030 W North Ave, Milwaukee, WI

                Meritage
                5921 W Vliet St, Milwaukee, WI 53208

                1. re: Fydeaux

                  Meritage is one of our go to high QPR places. Never had a bad meal or service there.

                  What is Juniper 61 about? We are not familiar with that one.

                  1. re: Fowler

                    A lovely little casual place at 61st & North Avenue where a Middle Eastern restaurant who's name escapes me at the moment used to be. It's owned by the same people who own Lulu. Here's a link:

                    http://juniper61.com/

                    1. re: Fydeaux

                      "A lovely little casual place at 61st & North Avenue"

                      Perfect excuse to go to Ray's on the way home, It is right on the way. How could we go by and NOT stop.

                      1. re: Fowler

                        Just called to make a res at Sanford's, and they are closed for the weekend we will be in town-how sad. I will try another one of y'alls suggestions above-thanks!

                        1. re: convivial viands

                          I cant believe I forgot to mention Coquette Cafe. It was started by Sandy (Sanford) D'Amato and taken over a few years ago by a former Sanford chef who has maintained ther high standards. Here is a link:

                          http://www.coquettecafe.com/

                          It is also not terribly far from where you are planning to stay..

                          -----
                          Coquette Cafe
                          316 N Milwaukee St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

                          1. re: convivial viands

                            Hi, I wasn't sure whether you were going to be in Milwaukee this past weekend or this coming weekend, so I hope this isn't too late.

                            Harbor House (which I noticed you mentioned in your initial post) is good, and it's a big improvement over the restaurant that was previously in that spot. I don't know that it would make a list of "exceptional" restaurants in MKE, but it is very good. I might recommend going for lunch instead of dinner, though, just for the view (or at least go before the sun sets). You can combine it with a visit to the Calatrava, which is walking distance from Harbor House, if that is your thing.

                            I ate at Harbor House with a client just last month when I was in town, and the food was good to very good, and the service was excellent. Perhaps a bit overpriced, but you pay for the view / location.

                            I would also second the recommendations above for Mader's (have not been to Ratzsch's in a long time but not for any reason in particular). Last time I ate at Mader's was a month ago (a long lunch with a colleague), and the Wiener Schnitzel was very good (sub the veal for the pork for the extra $2—it's worth it), as was the Apple Strudel. I was also impressed by the knowledgeability of our waitress with regard to the Rieslings on their wine list, which went beyond what was on the labels of the various wines. I can't tell you how rare this is in the U.S., even at some of the best restaurants.

                            -----
                            Mader's
                            1041 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203

                            Harbor House
                            550 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202

            2. Not too familiar with Milwaukee, but the Burek at Three Brothers was something l still put on my top 50 best things ever eaten. Now whenever l eat any savory phyllo item, it cannot compare with that one.