Home / Guides / Best of Milwaukee 2015 / BOM Winners 2015: Dining

BOM Winners 2015: Dining

Jan. 20, 2016
Google plus Linkedin Pinterest
bestofmilwaukee2015

best of milwaukee 2015 

{ dining }

African Restaurant

First Place:

Ethiopian Cottage

Restaurant

1824 N. Farwell Ave. 

414-224-5226

ethiopiancottagerest.com

 

Located inconspicuously in an East Side strip mall, Ethiopian Cottage maintains the traditions of the country’s ancient East African heritage with a delicious array of flavorful vegetarian, chicken and meat stews. The entrées come with injera, a soft sourdough bread that can serve as plate, utensil and part of the meal itself. (David Luhrssen)

 

Runner Up:

Alem Ethiopian Village

Honorable Mention:

Afro Fusion Cuisine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbecue

First Place:

Smoke Shack

332 N. Milwaukee St.

414-431-1119
hospitalitydemocracy.com/smoke-shack

 

New barbecue restaurants have been popping up all over the city over the last half decade, but few of these new additions to Milwaukee’s smoked-meat scene have made a bigger splash than the Smoke Shack, where patrons line up at peak hours for pulled chicken, pork loin sandwiches, brisket sloppy joes and other specialties. In a departure from Southern barbecue tradition, the meat here isn’t pre-sauced. Instead diners add their own, choosing from a selection of five house-made sauces that include a smoky take on Kansas City sauce and a sweet, mustardy concoction called Carolina Gold. (Evan Rytlewski)

 

Runner Up:

Speed Queen Bar-B-Q

Honorable Mentions:

Ashley’s Que

Double B’s BBQ & Burgers

 

Bar Food

First Place:

Hooligan’s Super Bar

2017 E. North Ave.

414-273-5230
hooliganssuperbar.com

 

For decades Hooligan’s has been one of the East Side’s most bustling pubs, and over the years the bar has kept its menu fresh with a number of satisfying additions, including Reuben rolls, a cheddar pretzel mushroom melt and grilled seafood tacos. The specialty burgers are the real draw here, though. Each is piled high with creative toppings, including the signature Hooli-Burger, a mess of cheddar, bacon, barbecue sauce, mayo, olives, lettuce and tomato. Looking for something leaner but no less filling? Try the half-pound bison burger. (Evan Rytlewski)

 

Runner Up:

Three Lions Pub

Honorable Mentions:

Mulligans Irish Pub & Grill

Points East Pub

 

 

Breakfast

Brunch

First Place:

Blue’s Egg

317 N. 76th St.

414-299-3180

bluesegg.com

 

Blue’s Egg obviously filled a vacuum at that corner of the metropolis where Milwaukee, Wauwatosa and West Allis converge. One look at the overflowing parking lot and the lines waiting to get in at lunchtime is evidence enough. Occupying the former site of Heinemann’s, the Egg focuses on breakfast and lunch and boasts a full bar. They would probably take a bite out of evening business from restaurants in the neighborhood, but they close each day at 2 p.m. (David Luhrssen)

 

Runner Up Breakfast/Brunch:

Simple Café

Honorable Mentions Breakfast

Brunch:

Zak’s Cafe

Café at the Plaza

 

 

Brew Pub Dining

 

Fish Fry

First Place:

Lakefront Brewery

1872 N. Commerce St.

414-372-8800

lakefrontbrewery.com

 

Lakefront’s daily menu is full of Wisconsin pride, using local foods like cheese curds from Clockshadow Creamery, sausages from Johnsonville, Usinger’s and Klements, as well as several dishes featuring their own beers. On Fridays, diners flock in for the traditional Milwaukee fish fry with all of the fixings and a pint of delicious Lakefront beer. You can also start your Sunday morning with brunch in the Beer Hall—don’t miss out on the fresh, made-to-order doughnut holes. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

 

Runner Up Brew Pub:

Milwaukee Ale House

Honorable Mentions

Brew Pub:

Water Street Brewery

Company Brewing

 

Runner Up Fish Fry:

The Packing House

Honorable Mentions

Fish Fry:

Kegel’s Inn

Laura’s DBC Bar & Gill

 

 

Buffet

Indian/Pakistani

Restaurant

First Place:

Maharaja

1550 N. Farwell Ave.

414-209-0270

maharajahrestaurants.com

 

Lunch buffets have always been a good way to introduce ethnic food to American audiences. The growing popularity of Indian cuisine has been spurred by buffets. Milwaukee has seen many Indian buffets in the past 25 years, some of them good, but the flagship has long been that East Side favorite, Maharaja. The major food groups are represented from appetizers to ice cream with stops along the way for rice dishes, curries, vegetarian delights and that bright red staple, tandoori chicken. (David Luhrssen)

 

Runner Up Buffet:

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

Honorable Mentions

Buffet:

Old Country Buffet

India Garden

 

Runner Up Indian/

Pakistani Restaurant:

Café India

Honorable Mentions

Indian/Pakistani

Restaurant:

Bollywood Grill

India Garden

 

Burgers

 

Ice Cream/Custard Stand

First Place:

Kopp’s Frozen

Custard

Multiple locations

kopps.com

 

Unlike the multi-story edifices constructed by many of the city’s top burger joints, Kopp’s is more a horizontal than vertical job—which leads to saucy, sandwich-y bites, and never too much bread. The toppings are by-the-book Americana basic, but so very generous, so slathery, so whatever you want. The cheese is American (and if research proved anything, it’s that the least complicated yellow cheese is always best for a burger), and melted between the patties in steamy rivulets. Kopp’s also excels at that Milwaukee favorite, frozen custard. (Todd Lazarski

 

Runner Up Burgers:

Sobelman’s Pub and Grill

Honorable Mentions

Burgers:

Oscar’s Pub & Grill

Hamburger Mary’s

 

Runner Up Ice Cream/

Custard Stand:

Purple Door Ice Cream

Honorable Mentions Ice

Cream/Custard Stand:

Leon’s Frozen Custard

Oscar’s Frozen Custard

 

 

Burrito

 

Taco

First Place:

BelAir Cantina

Multiple locations

belaircantina.com

 

BelAir Cantina’s Taco Tuesday and Taco Thursday have become a fundamental element of Milwaukee’s dining culture, exemplified by the hordes of people you can see waiting outside of the restaurant on those particular nights of the week. The restaurant features a variety of taco options that suit anyone’s fancy, as well as ample burritos loaded with delicious toppings, flavorful specialty margaritas and an addictive queso blanco fundido. There are currently three BelAir Cantina locations, with a fourth set to open in Oak Creek in 2016. (Eric Engelbart)

 

Runner Up Burrito:

Café Corazón

Honorable Mentions Burrito:

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Guanajuato Mexican Restaurant (GTO)

 

Runner Up Taco:

Café Corazón

Honorable Mentions Taco:

Botanas Restaurant

Guanajuato Mexican Restaurant (GTO)

 

 

Caribbean Restaurant

First Place:

Cubanitas
728 N. Milwaukee St.
414-225-1760

getbianchini.com/cubanitas-restaurant.html

 

Several Cuban restaurants have come and gone this century, but Cubanitas has been the flagship. Housed in an urbane setting suggesting a café in old Havana, Cubanitas offers flavorful entrées and sandwiches; that wonderful regional staple, plantains; and a full bar serving potent, flavorful mojitos. The Caribbean is a diverse region mixing Spanish, British, African and French influences; in a contest such as this, distinct national cuisines are pitted against one another. For several years in a row, our readers have put Cuba on top. (David Luhrssen)

 

Runner Up:

Painted Parrot

Honorable Mentions:

La Caribeña

Uppa Yard

 

 

Central/South American

Restaurant

First Place:

Antigua Latin

Restaurant & Catering

5823 W. Burnham St.

414-321-5775

antiguamilwaukee.com

 

Latin American, Mexican and Spanish staples make up Antigua’s large menu. Tapas, including empanadas, ceviche, pulled-pork sliders and Cuban-style plantains, can be enjoyed as appetizers or combined to make a meal. Entrées include tequila cream salmon, beef empanadas with chimichurri basil sauce and camarones Antigua, giant shrimp wrapped in bacon and stuffed with melted cheese. Paella is made to order in servings for two. The attentive wait staff is happy to share recommendations and pairing tips, and quick to return with another round of margaritas or sangria. (Evan Rytlewski)

 

Runner Up:

Chef Paz Restaurant

Honorable Mentions:

El Salvador Restaurant

Kasana

 

 

Cheap Eats

First Place:

Conejito’s Place

539 W. Virginia St.

414-278-9106

conejitos-place.com

 

This 44-year-old South Side staple was one of the pioneers of Mexican cuisine in Milwaukee. Its longevity is testament to its friendly atmosphere, large banquet space, tasty food and unbeatable prices—the savory chicken mole ($4.50/$5) is surely one of the best deals in town. Housed in an expanded version of its original location, Conejito’s boasts a classic success story. The late Jose “Conejito” Garza moved to Milwaukee from Monterrey, Mexico, in 1957, worked briefly as a butcher before opening his own establishment and never looked back. (Selena Milewski)

 

Runner Up:

Oakland Gyros

Honorable Mentions:

George Webb

Chubbys Cheesesteaks/The Drive Thru

 

 

Chicken Wings

First Place:

Points East Pub

1501 N. Jackson St.

414-277-0122
thepointseastpub.com 

 

Good riddance to greasy wings. Points East Pub’s sophisticated take on this bar food staple barely resembles the sticky, oily, over-sugared chicken that chain restaurants pull from the fryer. Instead they’re lightly sauced then grilled until they pick up a beautiful, smoky char. You won’t find any gimmicky honey-garlic or mango-barbecue sauces here. These wings come in just one flavor: hot but not too hot. (Evan Rytlewski)

 

Runner Up:

Buffalo Wild Wings

Honorable Mentions:

Who’s on Third

Chubbys Cheesesteaks/The Drive Thru

 

 

 

 

 

Child Friendly Restaurant

First Place:

Organ Piper Pizza

4353 S. 108th St.

414-529-1177

organpiperpizza.com

 

Since opening in December 1976, Organ Piper Pizza has worn the crown of Milwaukee’s favorite old-timey restaurant-cum-music palace, the throne of which is a 1929 Wurlitzer organ. A rotating cast of organists keep the pipes crooning throughout the week, conjuring the perfect atmosphere to nosh on the unpretentious homemade pizza and related fare. Are you down with OPP? (Tyler Friedman)

 

Runner Up:

Dr. Dawg

Honorable Mentions:

North Star American Bistro

Mozzaluna Pizzeria & Ristorante

 

 

Chinese Restaurant

First Place:

Emperor of China

1010 E. Brady St.

414-271-8889

emperorofchinarestaurant.com

 

Amazing food, fast delivery, warm and generous staff, casual enough for everyday, yet fine enough for a special night out. Emperor of China is the “whole package” when it comes to Chinese food in Milwaukee. It’s the kind of place that’s so loved by those in the know that even folks who don’t live in the neighborhood will make special trips in from the suburbs just to enjoy the excellent Chinese cuisine at Emperor of China. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

 

Runner Up:

No. 1 Chinese Restaurant

Honorable Mentions:

New China Buffet

Jing’s

 

 

Coffee Shop

First Place:

Colectivo Coffee

Multiple locations

colectivocoffee.com

 

Colectivo serves responsibly sourced hand-roasted coffees, Letterbox teas, scrumptious baked goods and delicious sandwiches on fresh-made bread at 13 locations in Milwaukee and three in Madison. Besides being a safe haven to hatch creativity, share conversation, listen to music and get work done, this multifaceted Wisconsin coffee shop gives back to the community by partnering with and donating to local nonprofits as well as hosting area music groups and performers. (Amanda Sullivan)

 

Runner Up:

Anodyne Coffeehouse

Honorable Mentions:

Stone Creek Coffee

Brewed Café 

 

 

Delivery Menu

First Place:

Pizza Shuttle

1827 N. Farwell Ave.

414-289-9993

pizzashuttle.com

 

Plenty of places deliver, but none with Pizza Shuttle’s dedication to dietary diversity. The menu of the local, independently owned pizzeria feels near novella length and boasts uncommon toppings such as gyro meat, sliced breaded eggplant, bananas, cashews and tofu. Name aside, Pizza Shuttle also excels in pasta, subs, seafood and salads. The Shuttle runs until 3 a.m. all week and holds out until 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Heaven help Pizza Shuttle if Milwaukee ever legalizes marijuana. (Tyler Friedman)

 

Runner Up:

Chubbys Cheesesteaks/

The Drive Thru

Honorable Mentions:

Buddha Lounge

Elephant Café

 

 

Donuts

First Place:

Cranky Al’s

6901 W. North Ave.

414-258-5282

crankyals.com

 

This popular Wauwatosa spot is a great place to go for all sorts of reasons, but one of the biggest is Cranky Al’s incredible doughnuts. They have all the classic favs, delicately fried to that perfect crisp-outside-fluffy-inside donut texture. Fun flavors like peanut butter chocolate cream or maple bacon really set Cranky Al’s donuts apart from others in town. Remember to come early for the best selection! (Susan Harpt Grimes)

 

 

 

 

 

Runner Up:

Holey Moley Coffee + Doughnuts

Honorable Mentions:

Dunkin’ Donuts

Chubbys Cheesesteaks/The Drive Thru

 

 

Farm-to-Table Restaurant

First Place:

Odd Duck

2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

414-763-5881

oddduckrestaurant.com

 

Odd Duck in Bay View has been considered one of Milwaukee’s best restaurants since it opened in 2012. The restaurant features an ever-evolving menu of innovative dishes inspired by locally sourced foods, and has become a go-to destination for foodies. If you’re looking for an excellent dining experience at a sophisticated but unpretentious restaurant with great ingredients, look no further than Odd Duck. (Eric Engelbart)

 

Runner Up:

Wolf Peach

Honorable Mentions:

Braise Restaurant & Culinary School

Morel Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Restaurant

 

Gourmet Restaurant

 

Romantic Restaurant

First Place:

Bartolotta’s

Lake Park Bistro

3133 E. Newberry Blvd.

414-962-6300

lakeparkbistro.com

 

Few places in Milwaukee have received the accolades that Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro has garnered over the years. Impeccable service, stunning views of Lake Michigan and expertly prepared French cuisine are some of the many reasons why locals return again and again to one of the area’s most well-established French restaurants. For a truly special experience, reserve the Chef’s Table in the kitchen to get a bird’s eye view of the impressive techniques employed to create the Bistro’s amazing dishes. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

 

Runner Up French Restaurant:

Le Rêve Patisserie & Café

Honorable Mentions

French Restaurant:

Pastiche Bistro & Wine Bar

Chez Jacques Brasserie

 

Runner Up Gourmet Restaurant:

Odd Duck

Honorable Mentions

Gourmet Restaurant:

Sanford

the cheel

 

Runner Up Romantic Restaurant:

The Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar

Honorable Mentions

Romantic Restaurant:

Casablanca

the cheel

 

Frozen Yogurt Shop

First Place: 

Yo Mama!

Multiple locations

yomamagoodness.com

 

Now 5 years old with locations in Wauwatosa, Brookfield and Shorewood, Yo Mama! has earned its success in the ever-expanding frozen yogurt market. Ten flavors and 35 toppings are on offer daily and Yo Mama! cares about nutrition, too. Most yogurts served have zero fat and a no-sugar option and dairy-free sorbet are always on hand. Want something besides yogurt? Enjoy Italian goodies, Simma’s cheesecake, gourmet hot chocolate and fresh Colectivo coffee. (Selena Milewski)

 

Runner Up:

Yo Factory

Honorable Mentions:

Cream City Swirl

Daddy Yo’s Frozen Yogurt

 

 

Gelato Shop

First Place:

Glorioso’s Italian Market

1011 E. Brady St.

414-272-0540

gloriosos.com

 

Here are today’s choices of Palazzolo’s Artisan Gelato: praline, Italian pistachio, lemoncello, cappuccino, kahlua tiramisu, strawberry, white chocolate raspberry, crème de menthe chip and Tahitian vanilla in a waffle cone or small, medium, large or pint-size container. Prepackaged containers in a freezer nearby expand the possibilities to include Palazzolo’s spumoni, white chocolate cheesecake, vanilla buttermilk, chai latte and raspberry double swirl, and many more dreamy flavors from Ciao Bella and Angelo’s Gelato Italiano. Just imagine! (John Schneider)

 

Runner Up:

La Coppa Gelato

Honorable Mentions:

Cream City Swirl

Cold Spoons Gelato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

German Restaurant

First Place:

Mader’s

1041 N. Old World Third St.

414-271-3377

madersrestaurant.com

 

Founded in 1902 by Charles Mader, this fine restaurant is echte Deutch, wherein you feast on hearty German staples surrounded by $3 million worth of art, antiques and medieval armor. Mader’s also boasts their Tower Gallery gift shop filled with beer steins and Hummel figurines. Their menu provides everything you’d expect: potato pancakes, beef rouladen, herring, sausages, wiener schnitzel, kasseler rippchen, sauerbraten, ritter schnitzel, sauerkraut, liver dumpling soup. The attached Knight’s Bar offers a wide variety of German beers and wines. (John Jahn)

 

Runner Up:

Karl Ratzsch’s

 

Honorable Mentions:

Old German Beer Hall

Kegel’s Inn

 

 

Greek Restaurant

First Place:

Oakland Gyros

Multiple locations

 

It’s not fancy, but the food is plentiful and flavorful. Long popular with UW-Milwaukee students, the original Oakland Gyros expanded to the South Side a few years ago with menu intact, offering shishkabob sandwiches, spinach pie, Greek salads, good ol’ American cheeseburgers and, of course, gyros. Entrées such as lamb shank are served with warm pita bread, black olives, feta cheese and choice of fries, rice or salad. (David Luhrssen)

 

Runner Up:

Apollo Café 

Honorable Mentions:

Gyro Palace

Ouzo Café

 

 

Hot Dog

First Place:

Dogg Haus

Multiple locations

thedogghaus.com

 

Dogg Haus Vienna beef hot dogs are available with a personal level of customization—simple or complex, it’s up to you. Or, choose one of several specialty versions like the classic Chicago Dog, the spicy Tijuana Dog and the Kansas City barbecue-style dog. If a “standard” hot dog isn’t hearty enough for you, the Dogg Haus offers a quarter-pound hot dog dubbed the “Dogfather.” Check out one of the many locations for a quick lunch or a late-night bite. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

 

Runner Up:

Dr. Dawg

Honorable Mentions:

Martino’s

Chubbys Cheesesteaks/

The Drive Thru

 

 

Hotel Restaurant

First Place:

Mason Street Grill

(The Pfister Hotel)

425 E. Mason St.

414-298-3131

masonstreetgrill.com

 

Milwaukee has several superb hotel restaurants, including more than one operated by the Pfister Hotel. The Mason Street Grill, attached to the Pfister but with its own entrance, draws Milwaukeeans as well as out of towners to its contemporary chic dining room and bar room with a fireplace. The Mason Street Grill serves excellent steaks, fresh seafood and classic entrées, along with a less expensive bar menu. The Monday through Friday happy hour is a popular attraction. (Morton Shlabotnik)

 

Runner Up:

Smyth Restaurant (The Iron Horse Hotel)

Honorable Mentions:

METRO Restaurant & Lounge

(Hotel Metro)

Café at the Plaza (The Plaza Hotel)

 

 

Italian Restaurant

First Place:

Tenuta’s Italian

Restaurant

2995 S. Clement Ave.

414-431-1014

tenutasitalian.com

 

Tenuta’s is the perfect little Italian restaurant. It’s cozy, inviting and serves extraordinary homemade food. Tenuta’s is a neighborhood hub, the type of place that locals cherish walking to, but for the uninitiated, it’s definitely worth the short drive to Bay View. (Eric Engelbart)

Runner Up:

Maggiano’s Little Italy

Honorable Mentions:

Centro Café 

Mozzaluna Pizzeria & Ristorante

 

 

Japanese Restaurant

First Place:

Izumi’s

2150 N. Prospect Ave.

414-271-5258

izumis.com

 

Izumi’s has been “rolling up” some of the best Japanese food in the city for nearly 25 years. Their sushi, sashimi and maki rolls are always fresh and delicious, but if you’re not a fan of raw fish, know that there’s a lot more to Japanese cuisine than that. Izumi’s delicately fried tempura, fried rice or fun Konro Grill dishes, which are accompanied by a little personal grill for your table, will please every palate. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

 

Runner Up:

Kiku

Honorable Mentions:

Fujiyama

Japanica

 

 

Jewish/Kosher-

Style Restaurant

First Place:

Benji’s Deli

& Restaurant

Multiple locations

benjisdeliandrestaurant.com

 

Benji’s specializes in Jewish dishes that can be hard to find anywhere else in Milwaukee. Their corned beef, long hailed as the city’s finest, is their great claim to fame, but the menu also includes an impressive assortment of herring, borscht, brisket and matzo, as well as an assortment of plate-dwarfing clubs and sandwiches. For breakfast, Benji’s offers specialties including lox omelets and their signature dish, Hoppel Poppel, a heap of fried salami, potatoes and eggs. (Evan Rytlewski)

 

Runner Up:

Jake’s Deli

Honorable Mention:

The Rubenstein Family

Kosher Oasis

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Open After 10 P.M.

First Place

Ma Fischer’s

2214 N. Farwell Ave.

414-271-7424

mafischersrestaurant.com

 

You don’t patronize Ma Fischer’s for the fanciest food in town. But the East Side favorite has other compensatory virtues—not the least of which is remaining open 24/7. The late-night favorite has also managed to balance that classic diner feel with modern amenities. In other words, it’s a greasy spoon that won’t leave you feeling greasy. (Tyler Friedman)

 

Runner Up:

George Webb

Honorable Mentions:

Red Light Ramen

Chubbys Cheesesteaks/

The Drive Thru

 

 

Korean Restaurant

First Place:

Sake Tumi

714 N. Milwaukee St.

414-224-7253

sake-milwaukee.com

 

Korean restaurants were unknown in Milwaukee until the 1980s, and while several have come and gone over the years, the three finalists in this year’s Best of Milwaukee contest have braved the test of time. Sake Tumi offers an East Asian menu with entrées from Japan as well as Korea. Sushi is at home here alongside Korean barbeque. Thirsty diners can chose from saki, exotic cocktails or an impressive international wine list. Sake Tumi is an attractive spot along the bustling Milwaukee Street. (Morton Shlabotnik)

 

Runner Up:

Stone Bowl Grill

Honorable Mention:

Seoul Korean Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louisiana/

Southern Restaurant

 

Soul Food Restaurant

First Place:

Maxie’s Southern

Comfort

6732 W. Fairview Ave.

414-292-3969

 

A slice of Louisiana through and through, Maxie’s Southern Comfort’s dinner menu features po’ boys, jambalaya, oysters, shrimp and grits, that delicious cornbread with orange butter, as well as a variety of savory barbecue dishes. The cocktail list features Southern staples such as Sazerac, Mint Juleps, Oyster Shooters, Pimm’s Cups, and Hurricanes. If you’re looking for a great southern style meal, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better lunch or dinner spot in Milwaukee. (Eric Engelbart)

 

Runner Up Louisiana/

Southern:

Palomino Bar

Honorable Mentions

Louisiana/Southern:

Shaker’s Cigar Bar

Nino’s Southern Sides

 

Runner Up Soul Food:

Speed Queen Bar-B-Q

 

Honorable Mentions

Soul Food:

Ashley’s Que

Pat’s Rib Place

 

 

Mediterranean Restaurant

 

Middle Eastern Restaurant

First Place:

Casablanca

728 E. Brady St.

414-271-6000

casablancaonbrady.com

 

Casablanca was a favorite for Milwaukeeans in the know about Middle Eastern food for many years, but its profile rose once it moved to Brady Street. The largely vegetarian lunch buffet is a great introduction for those unfamiliar with the cuisine and a “just like home” experience for those who grew up with it. The atmosphere is elegantly casual and the bar is a comfortable hideaway. If Bogart ran a joint in Milwaukee, it might look like Casablanca. (David Luhrssen)

 

Runner Up Mediterranean

Restaurant:

Shahrazad Restaurant

Honorable Mentions

Mediterranean Restaurant:

Shawarma House

Baba Ghanouj

 

Runner Up Middle Eastern

Restaurant:

Shahrazad Restaurant

Honorable Mentions

Middle Eastern Restaurant:

Shawarma House

Kabob Hub

 

 

Mexican Restaurant

First Place:

Botanas Restaurant

816 S. Fifth St.
414-672-3755
botanasrestaurant.com

 

One of many popular Mexican restaurants clustered in the city’s Latin Quarter, with its valet parking and attentive army of waiters and bus boys, Botanas offers some of the best service in the city. In the summer, sip margaritas and munch on chips and guacamole on a sprawling patio, and in the winter, warm up in the restaurant’s festive, jungle-themed dining room over a large, sizzling combo platter—the portions here are massive. The food is fresher and higher-quality than you’ll find at most local Mexican restaurants, especially the excellent seafood dishes. (Evan Rytlewski)

 

Runner Up:

Café Corazón

Honorable Mentions:

Guanajuato Mexican Restaurant (GTO)

El Beso Mexican Restaurante & Cantina

 

 

New Restaurant (Opened In 2015)

First Place:

Rice N Roll Bistro

1952 N. Farwell Ave.

414-220-9944

ricenrollbistro.com

 

Thailand natives Tony Koraneekit and J.J. Lertsinsongserm opened Rice N Roll Bistro in the former House of Corned Beef last February and Milwaukee has deemed it the best due to its high-quality, affordable Thai-Japanese fusion menu. Offerings are expansive and range from hand-rolled maki and ala cart sushi and sashimi to signature entrées, curry dishes, noodle bowls and tempura and teriyaki dinner combos. Carry-out, delivery and catering are also available. (Amanda Sullivan)

 

Runner Up:

Agave Southwest Bar & Grill

Honorable Mentions:

Casa Noble Mexican Restaurant & Bar

Amilinda

 

 

 

 

 

Outdoor Dining

First Place:

Barnacle Bud’s
1955 S. Hilbert St.
414-481-9974

barnacle-buds.com

 

Unless you’re arriving by boat, you’ll have to cross some train tracks and ignore a few ominous “no trespassing” signs to make it to this notoriously hard-to-find Bay View riverfront bar, a kitschy little slice of paradise right out of a Jimmy Buffett song. Kick back with some oysters, a basket of fried fish and a bucket of mini Coronas, then close your eyes and pretend you’re vacationing somewhere far south of Milwaukee. (Evan Rytlewski)

 

Runner Up:

Café Benelux

Honorable Mentions:

Café Hollander

BelAir Cantina

 

 

Pizza

First Place:

Pizza Man

Multiple Locations

pizzamanmke.com

 

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Pizza Man has returned to its pre-fire popularity. The success of the Downer Avenue location led to the opening of a second location at the Mayfair Collection, off Burleigh Street, this past summer. Both locations offer the same signature “Old School Thin” crust pizzas, as well as pan-style and gluten-free crusts. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

 

Runner Up:

Zaffiro’s Pizza

Honorable Mentions:

Transfer Pizzeria Café

Mozzaluna Pizzeria & Ristorante

 

 

Restaurant Service

First Place:

Chubbys Cheesesteaks/The Drive Thru

1801 E. North Ave.

414-287-9900

chubbyscheesesteaks.com

 

Visiting Chubbys Drive Thru after a night out on the East Side is akin to Odysseus coming home from his epic travels to partake in a giant feast. Chubbys Cheesesteaks and The Drive Thru are open from dusk till dawn, and the siren’s song of warm donuts and decadent comfort foods are perpetually inviting. Whether you’re kicking off the day or coming home from an epic night out, you can’t go wrong. (Eric Engelbart)

 

Runner Up:

Kiku

Honorable Mentions:

Mozzaluna Pizzeria & Ristorante

India Garden

 

 

Restaurant With A View

 

Seafood Restaurant

First Place:

Harbor House

550 N. Harbor Drive

414-395-4900
harborhousemke.com

 

Views of Lake Michigan don’t get any more stunning than the one from Harbor House, a fine Bartolotta restaurant tucked on the lake just across from the Milwaukee Art Museum. The restaurant is a seafood lover’s paradise, with a wide selection of lobster, trout, crab legs, yellowfin and some of the city’s freshest oysters. Those looking to eat lightly can take advantage of the restaurant’s weekday happy hour food specials, which includes 89-cent oysters and clams. (Evan Rytlewski)

 

Runner Up

Restaurant with a View:

Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro

Honorable Mention

Restaurant with a View:

Wolf Peach

Milwaukee Sail Loft

 

Runner Up Seafood

Restaurant:

Devon Seafood + Steak

Honorable Mentions

Seafood Restaurant:

Milwaukee Sail Loft

Mozzaluna Pizzeria & Ristorante

 

 

Ribs

First Place:

Saz’s State House

Restaurant

5539 W. State St.

sazs.com/statehouserestaurant 

 

Saz’s ribs are the equivalent of Sprecher’s Root Beer—they served as the foundation of a delicious empire. Saz’s ribs feature an ample slathering of their signature sauce and lean and tender meat that falls off the bone. Pick them up at Saz’s brick-and-mortar location on the West Side or look for their signature products at more than 200 Wisconsin retail locations. (Eric Engelbart)

 

Runner Up:

Smoke Shack

Honorable Mentions:

Speed Queen Bar-B-Q

Big Daddy’s Brew & Que

 

 

Sandwich

First Place:

Cousins Subs

Multiple locations

cousinssubs.com

 

One of Milwaukee’s original submarine sandwich shops from the ’70s, Cousins is strengthening its local ties by buying local. This past year, Cousins transitioned to preparing its subs with only Wisconsin cheese. Most of the sandwich meats are also from the area; the root beer comes from Sprecher and the sweets from Best Maid Cookie Company. (David Luhrssen)

 

Runner Up:

West Allis Cheese

& Sausage Shoppe

Honorable Mentions:

Chubbys Cheesesteaks/

The Drive Thru

Mozzaluna Pizzeria & Ristorante

 

 

Soup

First Place:

The Soup Market

Multiple locations

soupmarket.com

 

The Soup Market began as a wholesale soup producer in 2004 and now boasts five well-loved retail establishments in Hales Corners, Bay View, Milwaukee Public Market, The Milwaukee Center and on Vliet Street. Its signature soups are created with homemade, long-simmered stocks, garden veggies and fresh herbs and spices. The establishments also offer breakfast items, deli sandwiches, Haley & Annabelle’s Vanilla Root Beer and small assortments of bars and cookies. (Amanda Sullivan)

 

Runner Up:

Soup Bros.

Honorable Mentions:

The Soup House

Mozzaluna Pizzeria & Ristorante

 

 

Steakhouse

 

Supper Club

First Place:

Five O’Clock

Steakhouse

2416 W. State St.

414-342-3553

fiveoclocksteakhouse.com

 

Nothing says supper club like a well-cut, cooked-to-perfection steak dinner. The Five O’Clock Steakhouse has a classic supper club vibe to it. Take a seat at the bar and relax with a vintage cocktail while you wait for a table. Then indulge in steaks bigger than what should be eaten in one sitting. Five O’Clock has also received plenty of national attention from the likes of Rachel Ray, the Travel Channel and OpenTable. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

 

Runner Up Steakhouse:

Carnevor

Honorable Mentions

Steakhouse:

The Packing House

Mason Street Grill

 

Runner Up Supper Club:

The Packing House

Honorable Mentions

Supper Club: 

Joey Gerard’s

Clifford’s Supper Club

 

 

 

Street Food Vendor/

Food Truck

First Place:

The Gouda Girls

3216 S. Howell Ave.

414-630-8360

goudagirls.com

 

The Gouda Girls’ tagline is “curbside comfort,” and what better comfort is there than receiving a grilled sandwich featuring local cheeses from two smiling, passionate mothers? Furthermore, owners Katherine and Tina Tonn have been recognized for their delicious fare, earning Top 10 Finalist placement in the 2015 World Food Championships’ dessert and sandwich categories. Find their truck outside the U.S. Bank building every Wednesday and at local events. (Amanda Sullivan)

 

Runner Up:

Oscar’s on a Roll

Honorable Mentions:

Streetza Pizza

YellowBellies

 

 

Sushi

First Place:

Kiku

202 W. Wisconsin Ave.

414-270-1988

kikumilwaukee.com

 

Located on a busy corner Downtown, Kiku is conveniently situated to draw both the daytime business lunch diner and the evening dinner crowd. High-backed booths provide privacy, while a seat at the sushi bar is enjoyable for those who like to watch the swift hands of a sushi chef at work. Servers are friendly and knowledgeable, cheerfully answering questions and offering good suggestions for sushi. Whatever you choose, the presentation and quality of the food will be excellent. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking, “It almost looks too pretty to eat.” (Susan Harpt Grimes)

 

Runner Up:

Izumi’s

Honorable Mentions:

Screaming Tuna

Rice N Roll Bistro

 

 

Tapas (Small Plates)

First Place:

La Merenda

125 E. National Ave.

414-389-0125

lamerenda125.com

 

Tapas aren’t just Spanish anymore. With the rise of small plate dining, the word is being applied to modestly proportioned dishes to be shared around the table. La Merenda has become so popular for small-plate dining that they had to install valet parking. The comfortable, womb-like interior with its colorfully bohemian mismatched tables and chairs is a place where friends can settle in for hours of food and conversation. La Merenda added a garden in back for outdoor dining in the warm season. The menu changes continually. (David Luhrssen)

 

Runner Up:

Odd Duck

Honorable Mentions:

Movida

the cheel

 

 

Thai Restaurant

First Place:

Thai-Namite

932 E. Brady St.

414-837-6280

 

Thai-Namite has been a fixture on Brady Street for well over five years, and for good reason. The restaurant serves flawless Thai food, including (arguably) the city’s best pad Thai, which comes topped with a pan-fried egg; five masterful curries ranging in flavor profiles; and a full-service sushi bar. Thai-Namite added a second location in the Milwaukee Public Market this year, and will be adding a third location in Wauwatosa shortly. (Eric Engelbart)

 

Runner Up:

EE-Sane

Honorable Mentions:

Rice N Roll Bistro

Elephant Café 

 

 

Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant

First Place:

Beans & Barley

1901 E. North Ave.

414-278-7878

beansandbarley.com

 

Milwaukee wasn’t especially vegetarian friendly when Beans & Barley began in 1979 but it immediately carved a niche in town and has long been a local institution. B&B has grown over time from a natural foods store-deli with a few tables for eating in; expanding into what once was a record store, B&B added a modern lunch counter, an expansive dining room and outdoor seating. The menu remains nutritious and delicious, proof (as if it were still needed) that eating healthy doesn’t mean sacrificing pleasure. The coffee is strong, the desserts are sweet and everything in between is tasty and attractively served. (David Luhrssen)

 

 

 

Runner Up:

Comet Café

Honorable Mentions:

Café Manna

India Garden

 

 

Vietnamese Restaurant

First Place:

Hué

Multiple locations

huerestaurants.com

 

With a modern, clean, richly colored décor, Hué offers traditional Vietnamese cuisine in a relaxed, kitsch-free environment in Bay View and in Wauwatosa. Appetizers include egg and spring rolls, crab Rangoon, beef skewers and mussels. Vietnam’s signature dish—the delicious rice noodle soup ph—is available with sirloin steak, chicken, vegetarian meatballs or fried tofu. Other menu items include charbroiled, lemongrass and garlic marinated beef; spicy, sweet, seasoned pork; crispy egg noodle dishes; bánh xeo (Vietnamese pancakes) and a rich seafood curry brimming with mussels, scallops, shrimp and calamari. (John Jahn)

 

Runner Up:

Pho 43

Honorable Mentions:

Buddha Lounge

Pho King

 

 

Wine List

First Place:

Balzac

1716 N. Arlington Place

414-755-0099

balzacwinebar.com

 

“We’ve redone our list. It was too esoteric and pricey,” says wine buyer, Sean Ludford. “That reinforces the stereotype of wine as a luxury for the wealthy; in most of the world, it’s a beverage of the people. We want to serve good wines from around the world that have integrity but aren’t glitzy, so you can enjoy a bottle of incredible wine for $40 or a glass for under $10. Our staff is fantastic; they talk about wine in terms that everyone can understand.” (John Schneider)

 

Runner Up:

Pizza Man

Honorable Mentions:

Thief Wine Shop & Bar

Mozzaluna Pizzeria & Ristorante

 

Poll

Given his political beliefs and past comments about women, is Judge Neil Gorsuch too out of touch with the mainstream to serve on the Supreme Court?

Getting poll results. Please wait...