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Milwaukee - six ladies, one dinner, one brunch and a few bars!

Driving up from Chicago for a girls weekend...Looking for a night and following morning in Milwaukee ...with fun atmosphere and great food. Got Benelux as a brunch rec...and for dinner potentially Swig, Wolf Peach, Blue Jacket, Bavette or more casual Milwaukee Ale House or Wicked Hop. Also looking for lively after-dinner cocktails that steer a bit away from the rowdy college-age crowds. We like hip, off-the-beaten-path, good vibe, lively, attractive crowds :)
Fave Chicago restaurants are avec for small plates, Hopleaf/Bad Apple for gastropub grub, Bavette's, Maude's and Au Cheval for a scene, Arami/Kai Zan for sushi. If that helps guide selections.

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  1. Summerfest ends on Sunday. Plan on crowds no matter where you go.

    1. For brunch, Blue's Egg is the premier breakfast restaurant in Milwaukee, the same way places like Jam, M. Henry, and Bongo Room are in Chicago. However, like those places, they don't accept reservations and there are long waits to be seated on weekends.

      As another suggestion, especially since you're looking for "hip, off-the-beaten-path, good vibe" etc., I really really love the Sunday brunch at Envoy, the restaurant in the Ambassador Hotel just west of downtown Milwaukee. This is one of those hidden gems we all love to find. The restaurant is very nice and it's an old-fashioned hotel that has been recently renovated. All the dishes are prepared to order and they'll bring you additional dishes, so it's essentially all-you-can-eat, although they don't use that label. The food is terrific. It's also a great value at $18. And they accept reservations (including on Opentable.com) so there's no worry about a long wait to be seated. The restaurant website is www.envoymilwaukee.com and you can view the brunch menu at www.envoymilwaukee.com/d/envoymilwauk...

      Finally, here are three articles from the local newspaper that you may find helpful:

      1. Carol Deptolla's Top 30 restaurants blend the flavors of old and new - www.jsonline.com/entertainment/dining...

      2. Carol Deptolla's 20 Good Eats in Milwaukee - www.jsonline.com/entertainment/dining... (these are more along the lines of "cheap eats")

      3. OnMilwaukee.com Dining: Brunch guide - www.onmilwaukee.com/dining/articles/b...

      12 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Great links! Torn between Odd Duck, Wolf Peach and Bavette for dinner. Is there walkable post-dinner nightlife around all three?
        Brunch is going to be Benelux if we feel up for the wait, or Envoy if we want to get right in. Appreciate the feedback!

        1. re: snickers04

          I can't tell you about the other two - hopefully one of the locals can - but Bavette La Boucherie definitely has plenty of nightlife nearby. It's in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward, just south of downtown, and there are a lot of bars and restaurants in the area. That area is also home to the Milwaukee Public Market, which is worth a visit, and Café Benelux, right across the street from Milwaukee Public Market. Check out the neighborhood's website at www.historicthirdward.org

          1. re: snickers04

            Both Bavette and Odd Duck are in neighborhoods with nightlife. The Bavette area will be more trendy hip...whereas Odd Duck in Bayview would be of the more casually hip & interesting with dive bars in between.

            From Bavette...
            Ale House and Wicked Hop wouldn't have made my list for food, but those are spots you could stop for drinks. Ale House does have a nice riverside patio. Beyond that, I think having a glass of wine or beer is fun at the Milwaukee Public Market--probably more appealing if you have a whole group of food lovers. Just outside the Third Ward in Walker's Point, there is a bar called Black Sheep with those wine tasting machines which has been happening when we've been and they've had some fun live music going. Indulgence Chocolatiers could be a fine stop too--they do chocolate and beverage pairings. And from there, you would also not be far from the Iron Horse Hotel--which does have a cool bar scene indoors and out and is worth considering.

            From Odd Duck...
            Immediate area: Sugar Maple (beer bar, but with alcohol available), Cafe Lulu, Boone & Crockett (cocktail focused), Tonic Tavern (nice outdoor patio), From there, about a ten minute walk away there are a few more bars--Burnhearts & Palomino come to mind.

            Wolf Peach kind of sits by itself in Brewer's hill, but is conveniently located to the Brady Street Area which is fun place for nightlife and would be an easy location for you to just wander and pop from bar to bar. To name a few options-- There are some classy spots (Hi-Hat, Balzac), interesting dive bars (Jo-Cats, Thurmans), & options in between (Nomad, World of Beer). If you did want to walk, you could break that up with a few stops to pass the time. Lakefront Brewery is now just open for single beers (you used to have to take a tour). So, you could do an early dinner at Wolf Peach, walk down for a beer at the brewery, from there head to the Hamilton for a craft cocktail, and then you'd be near the rest of the Brady Street spots.

            1. re: bte576

              Also in Walkers Point is Crazy Water, an excellent restaurant, super casual with a publike atmosphere similar to Longman & Eagle in Chicago. www.crazywaterrestaurant.com

              1. re: bte576

                Have you been to Great Lakes Distillery's tasting room? Looks like a fun pre-dinner place to hit. Especailly because we're planning to stay at Iron Horse.

                1. re: snickers04

                  Lucky you--Iron Horse is the place to stay!

                  I have been to the distillery, but not since they remodeled. The bar used to be right in the factory area, but from their website it looks like the bar is much bigger and the patio is open for service--probably making it more appropriate now for a girls night out stop, but it was still fun before. I would definitely check it out since you'll just be across the street!

                  1. re: snickers04

                    BTW, the valet parking at the Iron Horse is $30 but you can park on the street as long as you call the city's hotline and ask for permission to park on the street overnight. The permissible sides alternate nightly. The Iron Horse valet has the number.

                    They also serve complimentary Colectivo in the lobby in the morning. If you find yourself there for weekday breakfast in the Library, try the muenster cheese scramble with sausage, mustard sour cream, and pretzel bread.

                    1. re: kathryn

                      Good tip on the parking, we've always parked on side streets as well. Just wanted to add that Saturday overnight stays do not require permission in MKE.

                2. re: snickers04

                  Bavette doesn't scream girls night out to me. The vibe is more hipster butcher shop. The menu seems more "lunch" to me than "dinner." The space isn't that big, so not sure how they'd do a table for six. It struck me as similar to Publican Quality Meats in Chicago, but PQM makes a lot more stuff in house, so not sure it would be as impressive to you since you're from Chicago.

                  I'd choose Odd Duck or Wolf Peach instead (am planning on trying to go WP this weekend with the family, will report back if we do).

                  If you do end up at Bavette in the Third Ward in the evening, stop by the back bar at Hinterland for a quick drink.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    >> Bavette doesn't scream girls night out to me.

                    Just to clarify (and this is the problem with referring to restaurants using a shortened version of their name)... you're referring to Bavette Le Boucherie in Milwaukee, and not to Bavette's Bar & Boeuf in Chicago, right?

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      Yes, Bavette Le Boucherie in Milwaukee's Third Ward on Menomonee St. Sorry, I'm typing on my phone.

                  2. re: snickers04

                    Ate at Wolf Peach last night. Great weather so we sat on the patio with a nice view of the city. Ambitious menu of small plates and cocktails. We had charcuterie and cheese, wood fired broccoli, seared shishito peppers, scallops, tuna belly, and steak tartare. All excellent but my favorites were probably the broccoli and tuna belly. Overall, just based off of one visit, seems like slightly better than Odd Duck (which seemed a bit more hit or miss to me). The immediate neighborhood is residential, so any nightlife would definitely be a little bit of a walk. And the available parking is all on the streets nearby. We parallel parked uphill very close to the restaurant.