Road Trip Report: Milwaukee-Chicago-Toledo-Cleveland-Columbus (Part I Milwaukee)
Thank you everyone for all of your help. The wife and I had a fantastic time and couldn't have met a friendlier bunch of people! And the food wasn't too shabby either...
Got in to town around 2PM and was absolutely famished (apparently some of these airlines don’t even provide peanuts anymore). Asked the friendly kid at the car rental booth for a recommendation for a quick bite on the way to downtown and she offered a nearby Culver’s provided we didn’t have them back home. Have to admit the double butter-burger was mighty tasty on an empty stomach and was happy to find the crinkle-cut fries perfectly crispy. Even the fountain drink had the right mix. Everyone else seamed to be there for the shakes, but we were able to hold off temptation.
The plan was to check in and head to the Indian Summer festival, but realized that we arrived in time to catch the second half of the 49’er/Packer game. The brew pubs were packed with fans (pun intended) and we weren’t in the mood to fight for table space so we opted for the Buffalo Wild Wings and settled on some Pabst’s on tap while trying to lay low while the 9’ers romped.
For dinner we hit up the Comet Café. With guidance from the super friendly bar tender we sampled some local beers (great selection, which even carried our favorite micro-brews from the SF bay area) that came with free bacon (wow!). Dinner came with a fantastic cream of tomato soup, that when fussed with crumpled bits of free bacon was out of this world. The entrees were also pretty good: meatloaf with bacon mashed potatoes and beer gravy, and quite ingenious fried turkey & mashed potato balls (will be attempting to duplicate this with Thanksgiving leftovers this year).
Dessert was at Kopp’s for that rich & creamy frozen custard. We first encountered this stuff on a similar road trip to Baltimore a few years ago, and have been looking for more ever since.
The next morning we got an early start to the Public Market for a tasty pastry and coffee before heading to Usinger’s for some bargain sausage shopping. While in the area we also visited the Spice House which was a lot of fun. I have been mail-ordering spices for my BBQ rubs from them for years and it was great to get there in person and sample all their variations. We also went to the Cheese Mart to stock on some local cheeses and may have run into one of the best Bloody Marys ever! Hand made by the friendly cheese clerk/bartender, and stacked with a meat & cheese garnish - it was fantastic. And it came with a free local hefferveisen chaser to boot! We really enjoyed this segment of our trip.
Before heading out of town we felt compelled to sample the Chili Bowl. The chili wasn’t bad either, although I thought the pasta beneath was a bit disproportional. This was followed up with a stop at Leon’s for more frozen custard. To my stomach’s relief, their version did not seam as rich as the custard at Kopp’s and hit the spot. Also on the way to Chicago we stopped at Captain Porky’s for fried Bluegill (meh), mixed seafood stew (big chunks of seafood), and rib tips (pretty good). Got to talking with the friendly gent behind the counter about bbq and his recent visit to SF, and he also gave me a sample of his smoked brisket. We were glad we took the time to stop by.
Next up, Chicago…
Thank you so much for the report. So many ask for help, and then do not have the common courtesy to report on their experiences.
As I am driving up next week for my annual visit, I will have to do a side by side taste of Leon's (my favorite) or Koop's (not as close to the house).