New Café Embracing Riverwest Community
Café Vocar quickly making a name for itself
The Riverwest community has recently welcomed a fantastic new restaurant to its stomping grounds. Opened this past December, Café Vocar is located on the corner of Wright and Bremen just a few blocks down from Humboldt Avenue in a quintessential 1894 Riverwest building. Owner and chef Michael Vocar, who purchased the structure nine years ago knowing he’d someday open a restaurant, renovated the four-family apartment into an earth-toned, charmingly simple café that will soon include a patio, to be completed by May.
The establishment offers an eclectic menu that combines Central European, Croatian, Austrian, Hungarian and Sicilian cuisines, with each dish made in-house from scratch daily. The menu, which Vocar says will be expanded to include more salads, grilled food and lighter fare in the near future, offers many savory dishes. For appetizers, try the melt-in-your-mouth burek ($5), crispy filo dough filled with feta cheese, or artichoke flatbread ($5), topped with creamy artichoke dip, chunks of tomatoes and garnished with swirls of lemon rind. Worth mentioning is how accommodating the café is to its customers—the flatbread itself was unavailable and instead of not serving the dish, they created a delicious variation with buttery rolls.
For entrées, the meatloaf schnitzel dinner ($13) and the Hungarian goulash ($13) are definitely good options. The former includes mashed potatoes and a flavorful spinach sauce with a pan-fried schnitzel of ground pork and beef, and the latter was an abundant serving of soft egg noodles with tender beef tips and a red sauce seasoned with spicy imported Hungarian paprika. Vocar noted that he originally followed his mother’s recipe for the goulash, which called for sweet Hungarian paprika, but he received feedback from Hungarian patrons and altered the dish by adding the spicy paprika for authenticity. There is definitely a kick to the entrée and it is quite flavorful.
Dessert at Café Vocar is something not to be passed up. Currently, the options include crème brûlée ($5), which is Vocar’s own recipe and includes a layer of Nutella, and the peanut butter chocolate parfait ($4), a serving of fluffy chocolate cake with silky peanut butter gnash topped with crushed peanuts. Both are perfect one-person portions and a great way to top off the meal. The night finishes with an after-dinner white chocolate mint Ghirardelli square.
Café Vocar’s meals are delicious, but that’s only part of why this establishment is so great. Vocar is wholeheartedly embracing the neighborhood by hiring locally and offering his space as a hub for learning and sharing ideas. Starting in March, free culinary classes will be available on-site to the public, where experts will teach recipes and cooking techniques. The establishment’s kitchen is certified and Vocar is happy to offer the space for people to use. In addition, Vocar is also dedicated to supporting Milwaukee’s notable art community. Café Vocar is one of few places to offer wall space to artists free of charge (no hanging fee or commission). “My idea is to fuse food, talent and ideas,” says Vocar. “We want to work with local businesses and people, and provide a space that anyone in the community can utilize freely.”
Café Vocar is open Friday and Saturday 5-11 p.m. and Sunday for brunch from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and dinner from 5-10 p.m.
932 E. Wright St.
Handicap accessible: Yes (through patio)