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Milwaukee Dining Guide 2017

Apr. 11, 2017
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Whether you’re in the mood for burgers or sushi, you can find what you’re hungry for in the Shepherd Express’ City Guide Dining Guide. Compiled by some of Milwaukee’s top food critics, the Dining Guide is a guided tour of Milwaukee area restaurants from old favorites to new discoveries.


Reviews by:

Jeff Beutner (J.B.), Franklin K.R. Cline (F.K.R.C.), Jake Culhane (J.C.), Eric Engelbart (E.E.), Jack Fennimore (J.F.), Susan Harpt Grimes (S.H.G.), Rob Hullum (R.H.), John Jahn (J.J.), Sheila Julson (S.J.), Lisa Kaiser (L.K.), Todd Lazarski (T.L.), K.L. Lorenz (K.L.L.), David Luhrssen (D.L.), Kevin Lynch (K.L.), Alisa Malavenda (A.M.), Paul Masterson (P.M.), Selena Milewski (S.M.), Lacey Muszynski (L.M.), Yvonne Ochillo (Y.O.), Emily Patti (E.P.), Matthew Prigge (M.P.), Jamie Lee Rake (J.L.R.), John Reiss (J.R.), Evan Rytlewski (E.R.), John Schneider (J.S.), Amanda Sullivan (A.S.), Angelika Villafuerte (A.V.)


Key:

Prices of average entrée with soup or salad: $—$10 or less; $$—$11-$20; $$$—$21-$30; $$$$—$31-plus • Credit Cards Accepted: CC • Reservations Accepted: RS • Outdoor Dining: OD • Sunday Brunch: SB • Friday Fish Fry: FF • Full Bar: FB • Valet Parking: V • Late Night: LT • Lunch Buffet: LB • Gluten-Free Menu: GF • No Alcohol Served: NA • All phone numbers are in area code 414 unless otherwise noted.


AFRICAN


Alem Ethiopian Village

307 E. Wisconsin Ave.

The food of Ethiopia can be fiery. Alem offers a gentler version, though their hot pepper sauce still has richness and depth of flavor. Try the doro wot—chicken with a hardboiled egg—prepared with this sauce. There are also beef and lamb versions of this dish. Half of the menu consists of vegetarian items; most tend to be mildly spiced—mostly greens and lentils. Every entrée is served on injera, a round flatbread with a spongy texture. This is also your dining utensil. Dig in and have fun! (J.B.) $-$$. CC. LB. Handicap access. 224-5324


Blue Star Café
1619 N. Farwell Ave.

Blue Star Café is an excellent place to grab a quick bite either for carryout or dining in on the eastern edge of the East Side. Specializing in Somali cuisine, it offers affordable and delicious options for meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike. Blue Star offers soups, sandwiches, chicken and veggie sambusa and tasty platters with choice of meat or vegetables atop rice, pasta or salad. (F.K.R.C.) $. CC. Handicap access. 273-9744


Ethiopian Cottage
1824 N. Farwell Ave.

The restaurant’s name refers to the traditional dwellings of Ethiopia, where the delicious stews redolent of Africa and the Near East were prepared over open fires and arrayed on a crepe-like sourdough called injera. The hearty tradition is kept alive at Ethiopian Cottage, which features an assortment of meat and vegetarian options plus Ethiopian beer, coffee, tea and honey wine. (D.L.) $$. CC. LB. 224-5226


Irie Zulu
7237 W. North Ave.

Chef-owner Yollande Deacon gives this excellent African and Jamaican dining spot the vibe of a casual dinner in her living room. The menu, which rotates almost daily to feature items from across Africa and Jamaica, often provides a nice mix of dishes that a diner unfamiliar with African and Jamaican foods would still recognize—such as Johnny Cakes and various curries—alongside less-well-known dishes like gnama choma and sukuma wiki. (F.K.R.C.) $$-$$$. FB. 509-6014


AMERICAN


The Bay Restaurant
342 E. Silver Spring Drive

“By The Bay, For The Bay,” is The Bay Restaurant’s tagline, and it practices what it preaches. Nestled next to the Fox Bay Cinema Grill on Whitefish Bay’s “Main Street” of East Silver Spring Drive, The Bay is a comfortable and casual restaurant with an authentic neighborhood vibe. It serves eclectic American fare for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. (K.L.L.) $$. FB. Handicap access. 455-3045


Buckley’s Restaurant & Bar
801 N. Cass St.

Serving American comfort food with many global influences, Buckley’s selections are familiar but intriguing with many creative spins and unassuming ingredients. Housed in a casually elegant setting, the East Town restaurant serves a fine fish fry, a vibrantly colorful Vietnamese-style barbecue pork sandwich, one of the city’s best Caesar salads and house-made deserts. (K.L.L.) $$$. CC. FF. FB. SB. 277-1111


Champion Chicken
8718 W. Lisbon Ave.

A full-service restaurant on the Northwest Side for decades, Champion Chicken’s spacious, dark interior has many quiet corners amid the barn wood walls and rustic ornaments. And if you want a delivery, you’re dinner may arrive in one of Champion Chicken’s famous trucks topped with the image of its namesake fowl. The menu is huge and, unlike many chain-operated “family restaurants,” a full bar is available. The specialty, of course, is chicken in all its varieties. Especially good is the barbecue chicken pizza. (D.L.). $$. CC. FB. 462-6200


Comet Café
1947 N. Farwell Ave.

An all-in-one bar, restaurant and coffee shop, Comet Café cooks its comfort food from scratch using mostly local ingredients. Entrées are hearty and satisfying, with options including meatloaf with beer gravy, a turkey dinner and a vegan Salisbury steak (one of many vegetarian or vegan options). Among the more inspired sandwiches are the Leghorn (pulled chicken with vegetables topped with cream cheese and apricot jam) and a vegan gyro made with grilled seitan. Breakfast options, including pancakes made with bacon (one of the menu’s favorite ingredients), are served until 3 p.m. daily. (E.R.) $-$$. CC. OD. SB. FF. FB. Handicap access. 273-7677


Crabby’s Bar & Grill
2113 E. Oklahoma Ave.

Crabby’s Bar & Grill has been a Bay View fixture since 1964. A windowless dining room diminishes distractions—allowing diners to focus on specialties ranging from Cajun, seafood, steaks and pasta dishes. Homemade dressings are a nice touch on the salads. Tuesday through Saturday, sample Francisco’s classic thin-crust pizzas featuring favorite traditional toppings. For those with a more adventurous side, try a cheese and kraut pizza topped with sauerkraut, caraway and sausage. (S.H.G.) $$-$$$. CC. FF. FB. Handicap access. 769-9999


Crazy Water
839 S. Second St.

Located inside a former Walker’s Point tavern (sound familiar?), Crazy Water was the pioneer. Cooking occurs behind the bar, and it’s enjoyable to watch the chefs whip up their American fusion magic. The menu follows trends with the mandatory kale salad, flat iron steak and diver scallops. The signature “crazy” shrimp adds a bit of spice to the menu. Crazy Water remains a gem. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. FB. OD. RS. 645-2606


Envoy
2308 W. Wisconsin Ave.

Envoy is the jewel of the renovated Ambassador Hotel. The lobby is an Art Deco masterpiece, and the dining room is illuminated by massive chandeliers. As this is a hotel restaurant, the menu tends toward caution, but Asian chicken cashew salad and Cajun spiced East Coast scallops add some fun to the mix. It’s a memorable dining experience. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. SB. FF. Handicap access. 345-5015


The Farmer’s Wife
6533 W. Mitchell St.

One of the area’s growing number of restaurants supporting local farmers, The Farmers Wife speaks to an easier time when folks gathered around the dinner table for classic American cooking. The menu’s East Coast-inspired dishes include lobster roll and stuffed quahogs as a side. All dinners are served with a choice of garlic mashed potatoes, French fries or rice, side salad and a warm cheddar corn bread that’s outstanding. The Farmer’s Wife carries about 40 beers (including some craft beers on draft) but also offers a nice selection of Wisconsin wines and spirits. (A.M.) $$. CC. FB. FF. SB. GF. 488-8296


Hōm Wood Fired Grill
5750 N. Port Washington Road, Bayshore Town Center, 312-7043

Main courses offer burgers, sandwiches and entrées that include steak, shrimp and lobster. The beef stroganoff ($15) is tender, and there are plenty of fresh mushrooms accented with dill. Add some homemade noodles and sour cream and you have a comforting dish. Fish dishes include walleye, red snapper and salmon. The Wisconsin Weekend Specials include a Friday fish fry and prime rib on their Saturday and Sunday brunch menu. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. FF. SB. Handicap access.


Honeypie Bakery & Café
2643 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Honeypie’s menu is mainly sandwiches plus a few appetizers, entrées and salads. The theme is home-style Midwest cooking. Expect plenty of pork, chicken, turkey and bacon. The pork fries feature Honeypie’s fine French fries smothered with pulled pork, pickled jalapeño, green onions, bacon and cheese sauce. The Wisconsin Beef sandwich comes with shaved ribeye, roasted giardiniera and horseradish sauce on a soft hoagie. This is true slow cooking—no shortcuts at all. (J.B.) $$. CC. OD. SB. Handicap access. 489-7437


The Hotch Spot
1813 E. Kenilworth Place

Nearly every menu item at The Hotch Spot can be made vegetarian or even vegan. That’s way more than many of the establishments in Milwaukee touting themselves as vegetarian friendly and is especially surprising for a restaurant featuring American fare. The cheese potato sticks, cheese-covered potatoes wrapped in wonton and served with honey mustard, make a great appetizer. Then grab a portabella Philly, a Philly cheesesteak but with succulent portabella mushrooms instead of steak, and finish everything with an ice cream sandwich. (J.F.) $-$$. CC. FB. FF. Handicap access. 727-2122


Hubbard Park Lodge
3565 N. Morris Blvd.

Tucked away on the banks of the Milwaukee River, the Hubbard Park Lodge enjoys a scenic, woodsy locale. Offering its rustic cathedral-ceilinged space for weddings and other events most days of the week, the Lodge also serves a Friday fish fry and a Sunday brunch. The former is a laid-back but organized affair with attentive servers, high-quality surf-and-turf selections and a family friendly atmosphere (you probably will see small children dancing to the accordion music). The beer-battered cod is a particularly tasty Wisconsin favorite, and the drink menu continues the local pride with selections from Lakefront Brewery. (S.M.) $$. CC: All major. RS. SB. FF. FB. 332-4207


Mad Rooster Cafe
4401 W. Greenfield Ave.

A kitschy big red barn on Greenfield Avenue houses one of the best breakfast spots in Milwaukee. The one word that best describes Mad Rooster’s food and service would be consistent. Across the board, both were consistently good and made it an enjoyable and tasty experience. Mad Rooster serves both breakfast and lunch all day and has a long list of choices in the sweet and savory category and even some interesting dishes that combine both for the ultimate taste sensation. (A.M.) $$. Handicap access. 231-9120


Meraki
939 S. Second St.

While the name of the restaurant comes from a Greek word, the cuisine at Meraki is not Greek. Rather, it’s more of an “American Contemporary” style. Served as “Small Shares” or “Large Shares,” this food works well with a small group of diners who like to share with the rest of the table. The menu changes frequently, so some dishes that are here today may be gone tomorrow. Catch them while you can! (S.H.G.) $$$. FB. Handicap access. 897-7230


Mi-key’s
811 N. Jefferson St.

Located in Cathedral Square Park, Mi-key’s is a great place for barbecue and happy hour value. It’s also the perfect spot for dinner with a lively bar, interactive bar games and other entertainment. They have a wide variety of meats from the smoker, burgers, sandwiches and “social starters” for sharing. When the clock strikes 10 p.m., its other personality comes out in the form of a lively “Naughty Nights” bar scene, making it a hot spot for socializing. (A.M.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. FF. LT. RS. 273-5397


Motor Bar & Restaurant
401 W. Canal St.

The Harley-Davidson Museum restaurant is as architecturally impressive as the galleries. The dining room and the outdoor terrace boast serene views of the Menomonee River. The menu focuses on Wisconsin and the Midwest, including booyah—a soup thick as a stew and said to originate in Green Bay. Entrées include homey fare like mac ’n’ cheese, fish fry, steak and barbecue ribs. Portions tend to be large. While the museum is recommended, Motor has a setting and food that are worthy of a visit, too. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. RS (8+). FB. OD. Handicap access. 287-2778


Moxie
501 E. Silver Spring Drive

The contemporary American restaurant serves lunch, dinner and brunch. Starters like a Wisconsin cheese board and brandied liver pâté appear on both the lunch and dinner menus. Sandwiches and salads make up the bulk of the lunch options, while dinner adds entrées like a tomahawk pork chop and scallop carbonara with crispy pork belly. Four different versions of eggs benedict are available at brunch, including one with steak medallions, fried green tomatoes, poached eggs and hollandaise. (L.M.) $$-$$$. FB. SB. 204-8980 


Muskie’s Gourmet House
800 Milwaukee Ave., South Milwaukee

Muskie’s serves a fine selection of daily specials, including a Friday fish fry with choice of lightly breaded cod, walleye and perch. The menu also features pizza with house-made dough, Black Angus burgers, sandwiches, wraps, seafood dinners and steak (available Friday and Saturday). Many small touches brighten the menu (where else is “Greek dressing” an option for salads?). Portions are generous, service is friendly and the dining room walls are covered with vintage photos of South Milwaukee. “Gourmet”? Let’s just call it good food. (D.L.) $$. FF. FB. 435-0181


nines American Bistro
12400 N. Ville du Parc Drive

nines American Bistro is located at the corner of casual and elegance. The restaurant at the River Club of Mequon wants everyone to feel welcome. nines serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday plus brunch on Sunday. The menu is expansive. Many categories with plenty of variety accommodate just about every taste or occasion, including vegetarian and gluten-free offerings to satisfy even the heartiest carnivore and carbivore. (K.L.L.) $$-$$$$. CC. SB. FF. FB. GF. Handicap access. 262-518-0129


North Avenue Grill
7225 W. North Ave.

The popularity of North Avenue Grill speaks to the new owner’s ability to make delicious, high-quality comfort food at wallet-friendly prices. The place is clean and cozy, with booths along one wall, a few tables with chairs up front and a counter area for the classic diner experience. In the warmer months, outdoor sidewalk seating is perfect to catch a breeze or enjoy the vibe of bustling North Avenue. (S.H.G.) $-$$. CC. FF. OD. No checks. 453-7225


North Star American Bistro 
4518 N. Oakland Ave, 964-4663 
19115 W. Capitol Drive #100, 262-754-1515

“Real. Good. Food.” Is North Star’s motto. A pretty simple concept, though most of us would agree finding it executed successfully and consistently is often the exception not the rule. Not only does North Star deliver on its food, it does so with comfortable confidence and without pretension. The servers are professional and knowledgeable from the wine list to the menu. Little details are attended to, including keeping water glasses filled, empty plates cleared and bread in three styles (from Breadsmith) with whipped butter. (K.L.L.) $$$-$$$$. CC. SB. FF. FB. RS. Handicap access. 


Open Flame
5081 S. 108th St.

Although there is a martini menu, don’t expect anything trendy from the kitchen. Go for all-American fare like plump roast chicken or sliced roast pork with real mashed potatoes and gravy. The renovated interior of the former Omega has a clubby feel with dark woodwork and a spacious lounge. It’s a family friendly place that just happens to serve cocktails. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FF. SB. RS. OD. Handicap access. 425-5177


Palomino
2491 S. Superior St.

Palomino has a new interior and a new menu. It’s still Southern at heart, offering po’ boy sandwiches and smoked brisket. Entrées include more brisket, etouffee and fried chicken with gravy. Sides complete the bill with cheese grits, collard greens and house dill pickles. Southern restaurants are scarce in these parts. There should be more like this. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. FF. SB. 747-1007


Range Line Inn 
2635 W. Mequon Road

Inside, you feel transported in time: Low ceilings, lots of wood paneling, even carpet flooring all contribute to the cabin-y vibe. The menu is driven by daily specials, including prime rib (Tuesday), fresh Lake Superior whitefish (Thursday), whole roast duck (Saturday) and even lobster (Wednesday, seasonal)—not to mention Wisconsin classics like Friday fish fry (haddock, perch or cod) and pot roast. Served traditionally with mashed potatoes, veggies and smothered in brown gravy, pot roast is never the best-looking dish, but it tasted the way it should: Like mom used to make. (K.L.L.) $$$. CC. RS. FF. FB. 262-242-0530 


Remington’s River Inn
130 S. Main St.

Remington’s fresh “made-to-order” comfort food is served in a friendly environment. The menu can be described as American classics: Buffalo wings, Cobb salad, pan-fried walleye, bone-in ribeye, chili, French onion soup and a patty melt. Remington’s menu also features neighborhood favorites including burgers, specialty salads, pizza and a Friday fish fry. Wash it all down with a rotating selection of eight draft beers, more than two dozen bottled beers and a dozen or so wine varieties. And when the weather cooperates, enjoy it all alfresco on this Thiensville restaurant’s back patio overlooking the Milwaukee River. (K.L.L.) $$-$$$. OD. FF. FB. Handicap access. 262-238-2697


Tess
2499 N. Bartlett Ave.

Tess is the kind of place that plays jazz at a level so unobtrusive you may wonder if you’re hallucinating it and features upscale American fare. Upon entering the comfortable space, you’re greeted with a menu that offers up three courses. Big eaters will be happy to know that one item from each of the course options will satiate. The crab cake is tough to beat—it’s served, weirdly and beautifully, with a house-made potato chip that’s longer than any potato chip you’ll ever see again in your life. (F.K.R.C.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. FF. RS. GF. Handicap access. 964-8377


Tosa Bowl & Bun 
7212 W. North Ave.

Offering sandwiches, daily entrée and soup specials, salads and party trays, this family owned and operated deli celebrates homemade goodness. Entrées include scalloped potatoes and ham, meatloaf, lasagna and a Friday fish fry. Toasted potato soup, tomato zucchini soup, white bean chicken chili and Rueben soup are among the featured daily delights. Served on Sciortino Bakery rolls, Bowl and Bun’s sandwich selection includes chicken salad, roasted veggies and the recommended Italian—a classic combination of provolone, ham, salami and pepperoni. For lighter options, consider one of the salads served with homemade dressings and croutons. (E.P.) $-$$. FF. 210-2834


Wall Street Drink Exchange
890 Elm Grove Road

Tucked away near Sunset Playhouse, Wall Street Drink Exchange is a hidden gem in the city’s western suburbs. Serving lunch, dinner and a Sunday buffet on the patio, the deck and a dining room painted with bullish scenes from New York’s financial center, Wall Street dials down on contemporary American comfort food with an Italian accent and Wisconsin ingredients. Tomato bruschetta, shrimp scampi, chicken Parmesan and spaghetti zucchini share the menu with cheese curds and a Wisconsin cheese board. Nueske’s bacon and Purple Door ice cream find their way into burgers and desserts. The entrées are creatively prepared and include steaks, chops, seafood and chicken with some vegetarian options. Soups are tasty and prepared in house. (D.L.) $$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 262-290-2309


Zak’s Café
231 S. Second St.

Zak’s is a restaurant-bar and a hidden treasure when it comes to evening dining. The two-story venue is cozy and welcoming and has an appetizer menu to get excited about. The dinner fare (much of it gluten free and vegetarian friendly) is quite diverse, ranging from ribs, burgers and filet to fish and comfort foods like meatloaf and mac ’n’ cheese. The food is outstanding for flavor and presentation. (A.S.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. GF. OD. Handicap access. 271-5555


ASIAN FUSION


Bee’s Cuisine
2336 N. Farwell Ave.

Bee’s Southeast Asian offerings have quickly become a go-to for East Siders grown tired of the nondescript Chinese dine-in and delivery options. Bee’s got its start in 2006 as a family run outdoor booth at the Fondy Farmer’s Market, selling eggrolls, fried rice, crab Rangoon and their signature stuffed chicken wings. With the move to Farwell Avenue, they expanded to a full menu. The location is quiet and homey, a great place to dine and talk without the interferences of bar chatter or television. The menu offers unique items, including coconut flake-fried bananas and homemade pork and ginger sausages. (M.P.) $-$$. CC. RS. NA. 551-2166


Buddha Lounge
1504 E. North Ave.

Vietnamese cuisine and sushi are most heavily represented, with some Thai, Chinese and American dishes thrown in for good measure. You can even get fusion Tacos de Buddha as an appetizer or bar snack, with beef, pork or lemongrass chicken in corn tortillas and served with salsa. Comforting Vietnamese phở is a big draw. The sushi menu centers around rolls, from simple, traditional style with your choice of seafood to more elaborate creations like the midnight roll with tuna, salmon, mango and black rice. Thai and Chinese-American portions of the menu stick to favorite dishes. You can also get a half-pound Buddha burger. (L.M.) $$. FB. 283-8400


Juto
605 W. Virginia St.

Small plates are the specialty here. Many have Asian touches mixed with items like Parmesan garlic chicken wings and breaded provolone meatballs. Fusion items include peppercorn steak sushi and cheese steak pot stickers where Asia meets Philadelphia. Korean flavors appear in a salad with kimchi vinaigrette and kalbi lettuce wraps. Saturday through Monday also offer Vietnamese phở, a large bowl ranking with the very best found locally. (J.B.) $$. CC. RS. Handicap access. 988-9115


Kanpai
408 E. Chicago St.

The elaborate wood sushi bar is an attraction in itself. So is the sushi. The signature rolls are elaborate presentations. Try the buri toro nigiri sushi, the belly of hamachi or yellowtail. This is a sister restaurant to Brookfield’s Wasabi, and the menu follows the Japanese fusion theme, although it is not identical and includes innovative small plates. Grilled sea scallops are served over orzo pasta and jalapeño poppers are stuffed with wagyu beef. Expect to be frequently surprised. (J.B.) $$$. CC. RS. FB. Handicap access. 220-1155


Lucky Ginger
221 N. Water St.

Lucky Ginger’s menu is a unique Southeast Asian fusion of flavors and a great stop for lunch hour, a break from shopping or a fun evening out for dinner. The atmosphere is inviting and has a funky up-beat vibe. Lucky Ginger’s atmosphere may be contemporary, but with the first few bites you can taste the authentic flavors true to Southeast Asian cuisine. (A.M.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 269-8699


Mekong Café
5930 W. North Ave.

The varied cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos meet on one menu. Begin with bánh xèo—Vietnamese crepes with a golden color from turmeric and the sweetness of coconut milk; then perhaps a Thai curry or the red curry roast duck. The more adventurous will want to try the grama chanta with homemade Laotian sausages with a fiery kick of hot pepper. Finish with a dessert of purple sticky rice pudding with mango. This kitchen cooks with the confidence that ranks this café with the very best purveyors of Southeast Asian food. (J.B.) $$. LB. CC. 257-2228


NaNa Asian Fusion & Sushi Bar
4511 N. Oakland Ave.

The front room has a sushi bar, but sushi is not the only attraction. Many fusion entrées are listed by the sauce (Japanese eggplant garlic, Szechuan peppercorn, Malaysian curry, etc.), and you choose a meat or tofu for it. Vegetables are also added. You might be surprised with asparagus or jicama. Everything is fresh. The sushi selection is good and includes toro. For variety, order the sunomono, which includes six different sashimis for a modest price. The décor is warm and serene. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. Handicap access. 967-8888


Rice n Roll
1952 N. Farwell Ave.

The Asian fusion of sushi and Thai is a great combination with many choices. Rice n Roll offers lunch specials of both sushi and Thai and a sushi happy hour. The sushi is as amazing as the chefs behind the bar, who seem to really have a good time together and enjoy what they do. The rice is cooked and seasoned well, rolled with perfection in a lovely presentation or a wonderful base for the donburi, sashimi and nigiri of fresh fish that drape over it with that pure, marine-like quality. Rice n Roll serves 15 different sakes, including a dry house variety available chilled or hot. (A.M.) $-$$. Handicap access. 220-9944 


RuYi
1721 W. Canal St.

Take a break from bingo and slots and pay a visit to RuYi, a casual spot that serves some fine Asian fare in the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino. The restaurant is small, but the menu has large ambitions with the flavors of Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. Papaya salad and Korean beef are perfectly good, but the best items tend to be Chinese. The jumbo pot stickers are definitive and the shrimp with spicy salt and pepper is splendid. The noise level is the sole drawback, just a reminder that the slot machines are still waiting for you. (J.B.) $$. CC. LT. Handicap access. 847-7335


Sake Tumi 
714 N. Milwaukee St.

Situated within Milwaukee Street’s thriving scene of bars and restaurants, Sake Tumi’s centerpiece is a long sushi bar that dominates the dining area. Sake Tumi’s original menu was a pioneer in Asian fusion, offering a few Korean items along with Japanese cuisine. That tradition continues, as today’s menu expands its options for Korean food and adds some Chinese dishes as well. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 224-7253


BAR FOOD/BEER PUBS


Barnacle Bud’s
1955 S. Hilbert St.

Barnacle Bud’s is hidden among old warehouses and grain elevators and is filled with nautical kitsch. The main draw is a large wooden deck overlooking the Kinnickinnic River. Yes, there is a boat dock. The small menu sticks to sandwiches, salads, a few entrées, jumbo crab cakes, good soups and seafood pastas. (J.B.) $-$$. FF. FB. SB. OD. 481-9974


Benno’s Genuine Bar & Grill 
7413 W. Greenfield Ave.

In addition to a fantastic beer selection, Benno’s offers an impressive assortment of typical pub fare, ranging from burgers and chicken wings to classic Reuben sandwiches and deep-fried appetizers. Burgers, including turkey and veggie selections, are served with fresh cut fries—plain or with garlic-Romano seasoning. (E.P.) $-$$. FB. 453-9094


Buck Bradley’s 
1019 N. Old World Third St.

This classy take on a sports food bar offers a variety of lunch and dinner foods as well as breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. Here you’ll find everyone’s favorite bar food classics as well as some of their own unique creations such as Gold Fever wings. Topped off with friendly faces and a welcoming atmosphere, Buck Bradley’s is the perfect place to grab a drink after work or to catch the game with friends. (A.V.) $$. CC. OD. RS. FF. FB. 224-8500


Café LuLu 
2261 and 2265 S. Howell Ave.

Summer or winter, indoors or out, Café Lulu is a lively Bay View destination for its flavorful brunch menu and imaginative salads, burgers, wraps and other sandwiches served with homemade chips or Asian slaw. Vegetarians and meat eaters will both be pleased. Pies are prepared in house. (D.L.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. SB. Handicap access. 294-5858


Camino
434 S. Second St.

Camino specializes in elevated bar food and American craft beers, with 20 rotating selections on tap. You can find customary bar fare such as burgers and wings, but the Camino staff hold these dishes to the highest standard. The beef for the burgers is brought in fresh four times a week and is ground in house. They also took their time in creating interesting menu items like the Beet Reuben that comes with everything you would find on a traditional Reuben, except the meat is replaced with roasted beets. (R.H.) $-$$. FB. 800-5641


Cloud Red
4488 N. Oakland Ave. 

Cloud Red’s menu is set up for easy sharing. Try their Munch Mix with peanuts, popcorn, Chex and pretzels with a bourbon glaze that coats each morsel. The spinach and artichoke dip was loaded with cheese on top and the right amount of flatbread to smear every bit of the dip without having to ask for more. Carnivores can’t go wrong with the Ney’s Big Sky Burger, a juicy half-pound burger that was perfectly cooked with cheese, bacon and fried crispy onions. The menu changes frequently. (F.K.R.C.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. LT. Handicap access. 231-9660


Distil
722 N. Milwaukee St.

The entrance is discrete—a bit like a speakeasy. The interior is dark, and the bar is long. Distil is the place to order carefully prepared craft cocktails. The menu isn’t large but offers suitable ballast, with sliders made from Nueske’s bacon, hormone-free beef or barbecue chicken. There are flatbreads, fries with garlic aioli and a pork belly starter. (J.B.) $$. FB. 220-9411


Erv’s Mug
130 W. Ryan Road

Though it may send you a bit further south than usual, Erv’s Mug is worth the trip. Are 32 beers on tap (typically featuring at least a couple of hard-to-find and/or interesting brews), a great liquor list and archaic beer advertisements galore not enough? Come for all that; stay for the intimate service and wonderful menu. The prime rib sandwich is great, but their French onion soup is the star of the show. (F.K.R.C.) $$. CC. SB. FF. FB. Handicap access. 762-5010


The Explorium Brewpub
5300 S. 76th St.

The beers brewed on site all are named for famous explorers, like Livingstone’s Porter and Captain Kidd’s Lost IPA. Quotes from explorers or about exploring appear on the walls of the large space that’s kept cozy with a brick fireplace and warm wood furniture. Even the patio has a fireplace, though the weather needs to warm up a little before it gets any use. You can explore various parts of the globe through the menu as well: Belgian-style mussels are available in three flavors, Cantonese calamari is tossed in a sweet chili sauce, and a Wisconsin rarebit soup is a local take on the Welsh favorite. Burgers, pizzas, steaks and chops round out the rest of the menu of this Southridge Mall-ensconced restaurant. (L.M.) $$. FB. OD. 423-1365


Harry’s Bar & Grill
1234 E. Brady St.

This new sister venue to Shorewood Harry’s Bar and Grill has an appealing menu with an exciting range of dishes that stand high on the list for healthy eating: salmon, shrimp, eggs, plentiful veggies, fruits, nuts and good oils as well as high-quality steaks and burgers. The Happy Hour on Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. offers great deals on drinks, including featured craft beers, and small dishes from wings or sliders to humus or an edamame falafel platter with beautiful sauces. Showcase windows across the front open completely while outdoor tables under a broad awning put you right in the middle of the sidewalk at the heart of Brady Street. (J.S.) $$$. CC. RS. FB. FF. LT. SB. OD. Handicap access. 964-6800


Hooligan’s Super Bar
2017 E. North Ave.

Hooligan’s Super Bar stands out among the sea of other establishments situated along North Avenue. A beer selection that boasts 99 different canned brews and premium bar food, including the super spicy Beelzaburger, have kept this East Side bar a favorite since 1936. Make sure to stop in on your birthday for a complimentary boot of beer. (R.H.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. FF. 273-5230


Joe’s K Ranch
4840 S. Whitnall Ave.

Prime rib and the Friday fish fry are the main draws. Barbecue ribs are also worthy of a visit. Look for daily specials like the half-rack with shrimp that is nearly half that price. Lunch offers a smaller prime rib cut that most would consider a big dinner. The Friday fish fry offers cod, perch and walleye. Orange roughy also appears as a special. Many sandwich choices also make this a good place for families. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. FF. Handicap access. 481-1775


Lakefront Brewery
1872 N. Commerce St.

Friday night is the busiest time at the Lakefront Brewery Beer Hall, with good reason: The fish fry is one of the best in Milwaukee. While you can get Eastside Dark-battered cod, panko-breaded perch or shrimp and baked walleye, the real draw is the fried smelt. You don’t often find these tiny whole fish on menus, except maybe at some old-school taverns up north. The batter is extremely light, like tempura, so that it doesn’t overwhelm the delicate texture of the fish. Smelt comes with cocktail sauce, but if you’re a tartar fan, ask to substitute their very tasty homemade version instead. Skip the fries and go straight for the potato pancakes or German potato salad on the side. (L.M.) $-$$. FB. FF. Handicap access. 372-8800


Leff’s Lucky Town 
7208 W. State St.

Leff’s Lucky Town puts to rest the notion that neighborhood bars have to be dark and dingy. A wall of windows, including a garage door-style window that opens to warm-weather patio seating, achieves a bright, airy feel. Lunch and happy hour specials draw patrons daily. Hometown products add to the neighborly feel of Leff’s, including offerings from Lakefront Brewery, Great Lakes Distillery, Palermo’s Pizza and Bunzel’s meats. (S.H.G.) $-$$. CC. FF. OD. Handicap access. 258-9886 


Like Minds Brewery
823 E. Hamilton St.

The opening of this brewpub is a momentous occasion for owner Justin Aprahamian following a long battle with the state against a law that prevents retail liquor license holders—Aprahamian is chef and owner of Sanford—from obtaining a brewery license. Ten beers are available on tap, along with a brief but varied menu of small plates, snacks, entrées and desserts. You can get everything from a corn dog or butter burger to Armenian lamb pizza and sisig—a Filipino dish made with pig head, garlic rice and a poached egg. (L.M.) $-$$. FB. 239-8587


McBob’s Pub & Grill 
4919 W. North Ave.

Corned beef fans in Milwaukee have staunchly declared their support for Jake’s or Benji’s but may find a new favorite in McBob’s. The corned beef is melt-in-your-mouth tender, and sandwiches are enhanced by a horseradish-mustard spread. Fish fry offerings on Wednesday and Friday are also a pleasure when McBob’s serves up fried perch, walleye and grouper. Pizzas are featured on other days, and breakfast is available daily. (S.H.G.) $-$$. CC. Handicap access. 871-5050


Milwaukee Ale House
233 N. Water St., 276-2337
1208 13th Ave., Grafton, 262-375-2337

At its original Third Ward location, the Ale House is a lively, welcoming restaurant that offers a great atmosphere as well as great service. Stay inside the restaurant to enjoy the live music performances scheduled several times a week. Eat outside on the patio and admire the gorgeous view of the river. Try the chicken pot pie for a large serving of something comforting and delicious, or the spinach dip, another favorite. (A.V.) $$. FB. OD. FF. Handicap access. 


Milwaukee Beer Bistro
2730 N. Humboldt Blvd.

If there’s one thing most every Milwaukeean can agree on, it’s that beer is good. Add beer to food, and it makes the food even better. That’s the philosophy behind Milwaukee Beer Bistro, a pub incorporating beer into every dish on the menu. Some items, like a light ale-battered cod, are rather obvious, but others are more creative. How about chunks of bratwurst and carrot in a thick, creamy Point Special Lager chowder? This is a great destination for brunch, when Sprecher Root Beer makes an appearance in root beer pancakes and heffe weiss waffles are topped with “beerberry” syrup. Pair your meal with one of 16-plus taps and dozens of bottles available. (L.M.) $-$$. FF. SB. 562-5540


Oakcrest Tavern
4022 N. Oakland Ave.

Oakcrest is half-bar, half-restaurant, and the warm tones of wood and a stone fireplace add a cozy, inviting feel. The menu adds to the casual theme with sandwiches, entrée-sized salads, appetizers and an interesting group of entrées including shrimp capellini, fish tacos and a great hangar steak topped with chimichurri—a condiment of parsley, herbs and olive oil. (J.B.) $$. CC. SB. FF. Handicap access. 967-0222


Oscar’s Pub & Grill
1712 W. Pierce St.

Although inconspicuously tucked into an industrial district between the 16th Street Viaduct and National Avenue, Oscar’s has attracted a large lunch crowd for its deliciously prepared Angus burgers (seven varieties on the menu), served on a superb bun with fries sprinkled in grated cheese. With friendly service and the look and feel of a neighborhood bar, Oscar’s is appealing any time of day. Stop in for some conversation, and select from the two-dozen beers offered, including imports on tap. (D.L.) $-$$. FB. 810-1820


Redbar
2245 E. St. Francis Ave.

Redbar is a good-value local bar where a fun, eclectic atmosphere mixes well with great food, and beverages that won’t make your checkbook see red. The daily menu includes six different types of jumbo chicken wings. Ten sandwiches are available. Try the Redbar burger with breaded onion, the shaved Philly beef with braised onions or, on the lighter side, the grilled chicken sandwich. All are served with hand-cut fries. Redbar has tater tots served 10 different ways. Look for daily specials. (A.M.) $-$$. FB. 212-8470


Rivalry
223 N. Water St.

Rivalry is a sports bar themed around the rivalry between Wisconsin and Illinois. The space’s street level is decked out in Wisconsin sports memorabilia, while the river level caters to fans of Illinois teams, giving them a dedicated space to cheer their teams without heckling (hopefully). The food menu includes all the sports bar favorites, like cheese curds from Clock Shadow, chicken wings and nachos. It also features a few border battle favorites, like a Chicago-style hot dog versus a bratwurst with kraut. Six tap beers are on offer, along with a number of specialty cocktails. (L.M.) $-$$. FB. 210-3960


Riverwest Filling Station
701 E. Keefe Ave.

Riverwest Filling Station offers up 30 taps that run the gamut across styles and breweries. Along with a wide variety of beer and spirits, Filling Station has some really fantastic food. Owner Bryan Atinsky spent more than a decade in Israel, and the influence of their cuisine is all over the menu. Try the trio of humus, babaganouj and tahina served with plenty of pita. Of course, any good corner bar that serves food should have a dope hamburger, and Filling Station meets that requirement with ease. (F.K.R.C.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 906-9000


Safe House 
779 N. Front St.

The name is House—Safe House. Whether you prefer your martini shaken or stirred, Safe House offers the perfect venue for your inner spy. Featuring a secret password-required entrance, a giant wall puzzle and a bevy of vintage 007 memorabilia, this restaurant has everything a secret agent, or hungry guest, could want. Additionally, the shadowy ambiance makes Safe House the perfect place for a party—or supervillain meeting. (J.C.) $$. CC. RS. FF. FB. Handicap access. 271-2007


St. Francis Brewery & Restaurant
3825 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

The brewery produces seven of its own beers, focusing on ales and named for the Seven Deadly Sins. The menu has all the appetizers necessary for beer drinkers, from spinach and artichoke dip to chicken wings and nachos. Sandwiches include burgers, pulled pork and a Reuben. Among the entrées are chicken pot pie, baby back ribs and beer-braised beef. (J.B.) $$-$$$. FB. FF. Handicap access. 744-4448


Stubby’s Gastrogrub & Beer Bar 
2060 N. Humboldt Ave.

There’s no doubt that the owners of Stubby’s know and love beer. Past the obvious, a beer menu featuring 53 constantly rotating taps, there’s hardly a shelf or wall that’s not adorned with a bottle of hard-to-find brew. Stubby’s food menu is fun and adventurous as well—take the Reuben, featuring shredded ham, sauerkraut and a poached egg on rye toast. The Riverwest skillet is served in a cast-iron pan and features their special tater tots scrambled with peppers, onions, pepperjack cheese and eggs. (F.K.R.C.) $$$. RS. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 763-6324


Swingin’ Door Exchange Saloon & Eatery
219 E. Michigan St.

How does a Downtown bar have enough staying power to last since Prohibition? By serving up some really solid food. Swingin’ Door’s menu ranges from gumbo to barbecue ribs, and everything is quite tasty. Cod and perch are the standard here, both tossed in an irregular breadcrumb coating that creates lots of crunch when fried. When it comes to sides, stick with the homemade potato chips or the unique spicy vermouth carrots. (In fact, make sure you order a side of those carrots, no matter what.) Grab the combo fry with two pieces of cod and perch plus three pieces of shrimp if you’re really hungry. (L.M.) $$. CC. FB. FF. SB. Handicap access. 276-8150


The Tracks Tavern & Grill
1020 E. Locust St. 

Just east of the Humboldt and Locust interchange, Tracks Tavern & Grill is a fun and weird bar that accommodates both avid sports fans and folks just looking to grab a drink and dinner. Food wise, the Iggy Pop ($9) will fill you for days with its hefty mix of roast beef, fried onions and horseradish. Less hungry folks should go for the soft pretzel bites ($4)—12, served with queso, is a perfect late-night treat. (F.K.R.C.) $. CC. FF. OD. 562-2020


The Vanguard
2659 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

In past years, you could get a taste of The Vanguard’s sausages at Bay View Bash, and it left people hungry for more. Once the permanent location opened in November 2014, there was already a hefty following of fans, salivating for sausages. There’s a lot to choose from: The menu lists 15 sausages plus an ever-rotating list of specials offered daily. All are homemade, with smoked sausages made by Madison’s Underground Meats (since they have proper smoking equipment) to The Vanguard’s recipe. (L.M.) $. FB. 539-3593


Water Street Brewery 
1101 N. Water St., 272-1195
3191 Golf Road, Delafield, 262-646-7878
2615 Washington St., Grafton, 262-375-2222

Milwaukee’s first brew pub opened on Water Street in 1987. Now there are three. The others are in Delafield and Grafton). The crowds still come for the hearty sandwiches, salads, pretzels and sausage platters. The walls are lined with Wisconsin beer memorabilia. Entrées start with salads and move upscale to barbecue ribs and rib-eye steaks. (J.B.) $$. CC. GF. FF. RS. FB. OD. LT. 


The Wicked Hop
345 N. Broadway

One of the noisy hubs of the Third Ward, The Wicked Hop is a comfortable corner bar making good use of its historic Cream City brick shell. Usually crowded at lunch and after work, the Hop serves quality bar food—chicken wings and wraps, burgers and melts, a pretzel platter and excellent nachos smothered in cheddar and jalapeños. On tap is a good selection of Wisconsin and imported beers. (D.L.) $. CC. FB. OD. FF. Handicap access. 223-0345


BARBECUE


Ashley’s Bar-B-Que
1501 W. Center St.

At Ashley’s Bar-B-Que, takeout is the only option. But with specialties not found at bigger chain restaurants, and a family ownership history that extends back to the 1960s, it’s an option worth taking. Ribs and barbecued goat are among the favorites. The sauce is so good it should be sold in bottles. (J.L.R.) $-$$. Cash Only. NA. Handicap access. 372-7666


Ashley’s Que
124 W. National Ave.

Ashley’s Que prepares 8 a.m.-2 p.m. breakfasts and daily side specials. Saturday and Sunday all-day brunches offer a choice of chicken-fried steak or a couple of thick, lean pork chops smothered in hearty brown gravy with thin American fries—apart from the standard choice of two other side dishes. Among the latter, the greens, cooked to the mid-point between tender and crisp and with bits of smoked pork, are always a worthwhile accompaniment. (J.L.R.) $-$$. CC. OD. FB. Handicap access. 276-7666


Big Daddy’s Brew & Que
5800 N. Bayshore Drive

A shopping mall is an unlikely setting for a barbecue joint, but this one works. They serve wood-smoked meats properly—usually dry with no sauce. Choose your sauce at the tables. Among the options are St. Louis ribs, pulled pork and chicken and beef brisket. The Pig Trough includes samples of all the meats and serves at least five diners. The bar is a fine shopping mall refuge; a place to enjoy a few beers. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 203-0404


Carson’s
301 W. Juneau Ave.

This is a new outpost of a venerated Chicago classic. Barbecue ribs and aged steaks are the specialty. The ribs are properly smoked and the meat sticks to the bone. The steaks are succulent, though red meat is not the only thing worth ordering. Grilled salmon is a fine choice, and the roasted Greek chicken qualifies as inexpensive. Do try the big crab cake, loaded with meat, not binder. Lunch is served daily. (J.B.) $$$. CC. RS. FB. V. Handicap access. 223-3311


Double B’s Barbecue & Burgers
7420 W. Greenfield Ave

No matter what barbecue you order here, it’s going to be bursting with deep smoked flavor. This is not barbecue that’s braised first and then throw in the smoker for an hour. The smoke practically wafts from the plate to your nose. The menu is simple, with platters, sandwiches and burgers, plus a few appetizers. A half rack of ribs paired with a half smoked chicken is truly a carnivorous meal. Sauce your meat with four homemade versions: a mustard-based Carolina, a sweet and tangy Texas, a rich Kansas City and an XXX hot. (L.M.) $$. FB. 257-9150


Famous Dave’s 
5077 S. 27th St., 727-1940
2137 E. Moreland Blvd., 262-522-3210

Founded in Hayward, Wis., it’s not surprising that the décor is where knotty pine and Leinenkugel’s meet. The specialty is barbecue, and Famous Dave’s is now found in many states. The food is served with sauce already applied; the barbecue chicken is especially good. This is true Northwoods fun. Have another rib! (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. 


Mi-key’s

811 N. Jefferson St. 

Mi-key’s has a duel personality. It’s a restaurant for casual dining whose exposed brick and fireplace adds a warm and inviting touch. They have a wide variety of meats fresh from the smoker, burgers and sandwiches and plenty of “social bites” for sharing. When the clock strikes 10 p.m., its other personality comes out in the form of a lively “Naughty Nights” bar scene, making it a hot spot for socializing. (A.M.) $$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 273-5397

Miss Beverly’s Deluxe Barbeque 

5601 Broad St., Greendale

Reminiscent of a 1940s-’50s barbecue joint, Miss Beverly’s walls are decorated with posters featuring stars such as Patsy Cline and Les Paul. Miss Bev’s is primarily focused on ribs—baby back and beef—which are smoked and then infrared broiled to give them a slight char and to seal in the smoky flavor. Broasted, fried chicken, beef brisket, pulled pork and hot links are all smothered in finger-licking, house-made barbecue sauce. With every entrée, guests receive cornbread, coleslaw and choice of one side from a list that includes barbecue baked beans, potato salad, mac ‘n’ cheese and more. (A.S.) $$$-$$$$. 858-1911


Silver Spur Texas Smokehouse Barbecue

13275 Watertown Plank Road

The setting is country charm in the heart of Elm Grove, and the wood smoker produces some fine barbecue. Everything from the beef brisket to the St. Louis ribs has a great, wood-smoked flavor. The menu also features entrée salads, sandwiches and Tex-Mex entrées such as Southwest tacos and chicken-fried steak. Modest prices and a comfortable setting make this a very popular spot. (J.B.) $$. OD. FF. Handicap access. 262-821-1511


Smoke Shack

332 N. Milwaukee St.

Simply walking into the small, rustically designed restaurant and breathing in deeply, catching the smoky, oaky smell of slow-cooked meats, is enough to make one’s mouth water in anticipation. So much of great barbecue is about texture, and both the pulled pork and the sirloin had it in spades. The pulled pork had a wonderful melt-in-your-mouth softness and a yielding quality that is exactly what you’d expect from meat that spent over half a day in a smoker. Like any good barbecue spot, Smoke Shack offers a variety of house-made sauces. (F.K.R.C.) $$-$$$. CC. OD. FB. GF. Handicap access. 431-1119


Speed Queen Bar-B-Q

1130 W. Walnut St.

Speed Queen is a longtime Milwaukee institution. Various beef, pork and turkey cuts come in sandwiches and full dinners—all with sides of coleslaw to cool off the tanginess (even the mild sauce packs a little wallop). For light eaters, portions are often hearty enough to suffice for two meals. Fried fish, baked beans and a few pie varieties are among the other options. (J.L.R.) $-$$. NA. Cash Only. 265-2900


BRAZILIAN


Rodizio Grill

777 N. Water St.

Rodizio replaces Sabor as the Milwaukee area’s only Brazilian churrascaria. The setting remains luxurious with spacious dining areas. The full dining experience begins with it delicious cheese bread and a massive salad bar that also includes a few hot items. Then, servers dressed as gauchos bring skewers of assorted grilled meats to be carved at the table. You will find pork, sausage, beef and poultry among the many options. Bring your appetite as the fixed price is all-you-can-eat. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. RS. FB. V. LB. Handicap access. 431-3106


BREAKFAST/LUNCH

Blue’s Egg

317 N. 76th St.

Although the Egg serves only breakfast and lunch, some of the breakfast items are served at all times, and the full bar is always open. Morning options include a range of omelets, Benedicts, pancakes and French toast. The lunch menu adds soups, salads, sandwiches and entrées, with a focus on good ingredients and generous portions. (J.B.) $. CC. FB. SB. OD. Handicap access. 299-3180


Café 1505

1505 W. Mequon Road

Mequon’s Café 1505 (in East Towne Square) wears many hats, serving up many solutions for satisfying hunger and thirst: a sit-down, full-service café (open weekdays for breakfast and lunch and weekend brunch), an expansive deli and bakery and even a bar serving bottled beer and wines on tap. Café 1505 partners with high-quality Milwaukee businesses by offering Simma’s cakes, Fiddleheads bread, City Market pies and scones, Troubadour cookies, Valentine coffee and Rishi tea. (K.L.L.) $-$$. CC. SB. Handicap access. 262-241-7076


Café at the Plaza 

1007 N. Cass St. 

Café at the Plaza (inside the Plaza Hotel) is a well-preserved architectural gem—a compact diner nestled between leaded glass doors and a courtyard open during the warm months. The floor is Spanish tile and the Grecian plaster friezes add to the Old World elegance. The menu, however, is contemporary with items such as a breakfast burrito, chicken baguette, salmon BLT, a vegan quinoa salad and poutine—the Canadian staple belatedly becoming popular in Wisconsin but dressed up with avocado cream and chorizo sausage gravy. Old standards remain, including burgers, corned beef, club sandwiches and grilled cheese. Many ingredients are locally sourced. (D.L.) $. FB. OD. 272-0515


Cudahy’s Pancake House

4753 S. Packard Ave.

South Shore residents have a new option for made-to-order pancakes, waffles and (despite the restaurant’s name) a full savory menu in a casual, family friendly setting that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Generous stacks of pancakes are available in multi-grain, buckwheat and gluten-free. Customers can choose from a variety of waffles, including the popular banana split, served with strawberries, bananas and ice cream. Omelets also vary from basic to elaborate and include vegetarian options. Soups are made fresh daily. (S.J.) $. Handicap access. 509-5048.


First Watch Café

11032 N. Port Washington Road 

First Watch (in Mequon Pavilions Shopping Center) serves breakfast, lunch and brunch. Among the delightful offerings are fresh organic fruit crepes with house-made granola, well-seasoned and cheesy market hash, a pesto chicken quinoa bowl and many other healthful, innovative dishes with high-protein and low-fat options. Fear not, creatures of habit. First Watch plays the hits as well. Classics like the Reuben sandwich, fluffy Belgian waffle and virtual build-your-own eggs Benedict are also on tap. (K.L.L.) $. Handicap access. 262-518-0028


Original Pancake House

2621 N. Downer Ave.

OPH started as a family business built on generations of hard work and has maintained its high standards and ingredients since 1953. The OPH on Downer is no exception and is one of the city’s gems for breakfast—no matter what time of day. It’s open 7 a.m.-2 p.m., seven days a week. (A.M.) $$. Handicap Access. 431-5055


Simple Café

2124 N. Farwell Ave.

This is the Milwaukee outpost of a popular Lake Geneva café that’s open for breakfast and lunch. The menu offers mostly light and healthy fare but does include a half-pound burger. Breakfast standards like buttermilk pancakes and novelties like spicy Korean pancakes are served. With lunch come sandwiches and a dreamy smoked trout salad with roasted beets and baby spinach. All ingredients are very fresh. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. RS. SB. NA. 271-2124


BRITISH


Red Lion Pub

1850 N. Water St.

If some Saturday morning a soccer match is broadcast internationally on the telly, Red Lion’s doors are open by 6:45 a.m., drinking is underway by 7 a.m., and the chef is fixing bangers and eggs for an early morning Match Day Menu. At 9 a.m., the full, glorious brunch menu becomes available—as it does until 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Dinner appetizers include Welsh rarebit, clam strips, mussels and a ploughman’s platter of British cheeses, Nueske’s smoked pork loin, brown bread and condiments. Fish and chips, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, chicken pot pie, Cornish pastry, salmon, pot roast and Indian veggie curry are among the classic entrées. (J.S.) $-$$. FB. SB. OD. 319-9219


Three Lions Pub

4515 N. Oakland Ave.

If the accents of many of the servers and the huge British flag hanging on the wall don’t tip you to the allegiances of this welcoming pub, Three Lions’ menu will. In addition to burgers, wings and sandwiches, it’s filled with British comfort food staples like shepherd’s pie, Scotch eggs, fish and chips and, for a rich dessert, sticky toffee pudding. Soccer fans gather here for all major games (the pub opens early for big ones), and there’s entertainment many nights of the week, including trivia, live music and karaoke. (E.R.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. 763-6992


BURGERS


Crave Café

3592 N. Oakland Ave.

Crave Café, a small takeout spot focusing on international burgers with influences from around the globe. A Korean barbecue burger is glazed in a sweet barbecue sauce and topped with American cheese, kimchi and cabbage slaw, while the signature Crave burger comes with Swiss, arugula, caramelized onions and truffle aioli. As with all burger restaurants, fries are important here, and you can get them with your choice of four different seasonings including Cajun and cheddar. (L.M.) $. 204-8778


Cudahy Burger Joint

4905 S. Packard Ave.

At Cudahy Burger Joint, one can savor burgers made from hormone-free ground chuck with fun names like Blues Man, topped with bleu cheese, bacon, an onion ring and whiskey barbecue sauce; or Macho Nacho, featuring a blend of Swiss and cheddar, tortilla strips, jalapeños, tomato, onion and chipotle mayonnaise. Burgers are served with a generous portion of lightly seasoned fries. For $2 extra, vegetarians can substitute a house-made black bean patty. Chicago style hot dogs, fish and chicken sandwiches, salads, tater tots, poutine, cheese curds, malts and shakes round out the broad menu. (S.J.) $. 585-0066


Jake’s Burger

18905 W. Capitol Drive

Jake’s occupies the former site of Haute Taco in Brookfield. Burgers now rule the joint but are not limited to beef. Try the tuna Nicoise, crispy cod or portabella mushroom burgers. The house specialty combines short ribs, brisket and sirloin. Burger making is taken seriously here. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. OD. RS. Handicap access. 262-781-1110


Mazos

3146 S. 27th St.

The cozy diner is known for its burgers and real ice cream malts and milkshakes. The burgers are big, made from lean beef ground daily on-site. The other sandwich options are Reuben, grilled cheese and BLT. Mazos is a longtime Milwaukee favorite, operating from its present location since 1948. (J.B.) $. CC. 671-2118


The Ruckus

4144 N. Oakland Ave.

The owners of Colectivo Coffee are branching out: They’ve opened The Ruckus, a burger, ice cream and churro spot in Shorewood. Burgers are quarter-pound and come with a variety of toppings, from the signature Ruckus burger with pork chorizo mixed right into the patty and topped with bacon, grilled pineapple and salsa, to the tamer Classic burger with cheddar, veggies, ketchup and mustard. Besides burgers, a couple of hot dogs and sides round out the menu. For dessert, freshly fried churros and various ice cream creations, like shakes and “Saturdaes” (their name for sundaes) are a sweet ending to a meal. (L.M.) $-$$. OD. 810-9559


Sobelmans 

1900 W. St. Paul Ave., 931-1919 

1601 W. Wells St., 933-1601

10352 N. Port Washington Road, Mequon, 262-236-9889

332 Williams St., Waukesha, 262-408-2320

1872 State Highway 175, Richfield, 262-623-6770

Sobelmans serves some of the best burgers in town, at least in part on account of a good bakery. The one-third pounder, cooked on the open grill behind the bar, is a fine accessory for a beer, a shot or even a cocktail. The original Sobelmans is a great place to get lost on the way to Potawatomi. The Marquette venue is popular with students, and Sobelmans continues to expand, having now opened a new places in Mequon, Waukesha and Richfield. (D.L.) $. CC. FF. FB. OD. 


Solly’s Grille 

4629 N. Port Washington Road

There are a few local spots that are famed for their hamburgers. One of the oldest is Solly’s Grille, in business since 1936. The interior is a classic lunch counter in the shape of a double horseshoe. The burgers are 100% sirloin, but that is not the only key to a Solly’s burger. They are prepared with a lot of butter. Try the Double Solly, which is a bit bigger with a one-third-pound patty. These burgers have a buttery richness that Paula Deen would surely love. (J.B.) $. CC. FF. Handicap access. 332-8808


Stack’d

170 S. First St.

Stack’d bills itself as a burger bar but the feel is more like a lounge in a setting of Rust Belt chic. Burgers are the specialty; a decent mac ’n’ cheese is another option. Some appetizers arrive in tall stacks, like the loaded fries and the great, thick-cut onion rings. This is a nice setting for a glass of wine or one of the well-chosen beers. There are also milkshakes available. Try a chocolate truffle—alcohol-free or spiked. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. OD. GF. FB. Handicap access. 273-7800


CAJUN


Crawdaddy’s

9427 W. Greenfield Ave.

Crawdaddy’s takes you to the Big Easy with both Cajun and Creole cuisine and plenty of seafood and steaks. The red walls and exposed brick wall show off the jazzy artwork and the saxophones hanging in the dining room create a joie de vivre atmosphere. Jazz music creates a level of excitement for the cuisine and the long bar that serves up some great craft cocktails and old favorites like the Hurricane start the evening off in NOLA style. The revamped Crawdaddy’s has a nice waiting area for sipping your drink in style and enjoying the southern hospitality. As soon as the server scribbles her name on the table, you know you are in for a fun filled evening and dining experience well worth the wait. (A.M.) $$. FB. 778-2228


Maxie’s 

6732 W. Fairview Ave.

Maxie’s offers Southern food and hospitality. While much is Louisiana in inspiration, starting with gumbo, jambalaya and po’ boy sandwiches, there are also Carolina pulled pork and shrimp with grits. Check out the fresh seafood and oysters on the half shell. Save room for a delicious house-made dessert. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. RS. FB. FF. Handicap access. 292-3969


CHINESE


China Gourmet 

117 E. Wells St.

China Gourmet is a Downtown mainstay and a great go-to place for those with theater plans. They’re right across the street from The Rep and the Pabst Theater, only one block south of the Marcus Center and abutting Off the Wall Theatre. What’s more, they offer a “Show-Goer Special” if you present them with your evening’s tickets. In addition to a lunch buffet and Sunday brunch—and unlike many Chinese restaurants—China Gourmet also has dinner buffets on all Friday and Saturday evenings. (J.J.) $$. CC. FB. LB. SB. Handicap access. 272-1688


Chinese Pagoda

7200 W. North Ave.

For more than 50 years, the Chinese Pagoda has been serving up solid Cantonese fare. Bright green booths and dark paneled walls are what you’d expect to see in such a long-standing, traditional operation. A full menu is available, but the lunch or dinner buffet is popular with the clientele and one of the best deals in town. The broccoli and beef, General Tso’s chicken and fresh, crispy, Canton fried chicken are standouts. Service is pleasant and attentive. (S.H.G.) $-$$. CC. FB. FF. RS. Handicap access. 774-8400 


East Garden

3600 N. Oakland Ave.

Dark and old fashioned, East Garden’s dining room is a bit of an afterthought since so many patrons of this Shorewood institution opt for delivery or takeout, though those who do dine in will be greeted by fast, friendly service. Whether you eat it there or take it to go, the food is fresher and less greasy than most Chinese American restaurants, and the menu hides some truly unexpected vegetarian options, including a meaty, sesame chicken-style tofu dish like little else found at other area Chinese restaurants. (E.R.) $$. CC. RS. FB. 962-7460


Emperor of China 

1010 E. Brady St.

A perennial favorite in Shepherd Express readers’ polls, Emperor of China has been a standout since the day it opened. The interior resembles an Oriental Deco grotto with textured walls, low ceiling and an elegant arrangement of Oriental artifacts. Soft Chinese music plays in the background. Service is prompt and friendly, and the food is freshened with good ingredients. Portions are generous and modestly priced. (D.L.) $$. CC. RS. FB. Handicap access. 271-8889


Fortune Chinese Restaurant 

2945 and 5512 S. 108th St., 328-9890; 529-9988

Fortune Chinese Restaurant is a rare bird: A Chinese restaurant with real Chinese dishes, not just those ubiquitous and ultimately uninteresting Chinese-American staples to be found elsewhere. Indeed, they have a totally separate menu dedicated to the real McCoy, and I can’t emphasize it strongly enough that this is the menu to choose for your repast. Here you’ll find such as jellyfish, essence of fish soup with diced chicken, deep-fried pork intestines, sautéed and sliced squid, preserved mustard pickles and pork noodle soup and a Buddhist-style vegetable stew. (J.J.) $$-$$$. CC. 


Huan Xi

2428 N. Murray Ave.

The regular menu looks like any other Chinese carryout place, but the prices are a bit lower than usual, and many of the entrées can be purchased as half-orders. What’s special is the other menu of regional Chinese fare uncompromised for American tastes. (J.B.) $-$$. NA. 906-8888


Jing’s

207 E. Buffalo St., Suite 101

A busy Downtown spot for carryout and sit-down lunches, Jing’s features a Chinese American buffet with few surprises in its selection of pork-fried rice, egg drop soup and crab Rangoon—think Oriental comfort food. The flavors are distinct, and ordering from the menu has gained in popularity. The setting is modern and elegant with an exposed brick outer wall and pastel plaster minimally adorned with framed calligraphy. Jing’s also has a Special Menu with authentic Shanghai fare. (D.L.) $$. CC. LB. Handicap access. 271-7788


Lucky Liu’s

1664 N. Van Buren St.

Are you torn between an order of Kung Pao shrimp and a California roll? Then Luck Liu’s is the place for you—the menu’s half Japanese and half Chinese. They also offer delivery of the entire menu (have their fire dragon maki roll at home). The Japanese side is mainly sushi and sashimi. The Chinese is more extensive, with a fine ma po tofu and bacon pan-fried shrimp made with a skillful dark sauce. Prices are on the low end, especially for lunch. Everything is prepared to order. (J.B.) $-$$ CC. Handicap access. 223-1699


Peking House

782 N. Jefferson St.

The first thing lunchtime visitors will notice at Peking House is a lunch buffet. Those that request a menu will find that, at first, it looks just like every other Chinese menu in town, with moo goo gai pan and wonton soup leading the pack. It does get as “exotic” as Kung Pao chicken, potstickers and lettuce wraps, but turn a few pages to find the House Specials. This is the real Chinese thing, mainly inspired by the food of Szechuan. Here are pig ears, jellyfish, pig intestines and pork hocks—along with many more accessible ingredients. (J.B.) $-$$. LB. FB. CC. Handicap access. 763-9378


Peony 

11120 W. Bluemound Road

Peony is the place for good, old-fashioned Chinese American food in Wauwatosa, offering a wide variety of dishes and dim sum seven days a week. They offer online ordering and delivery within a five-mile radius; Peony offers authentic Cantonese, Szechwan, Hunan and Mandarin entrées, appetizers, salads and seafood. Their dim sum is a specialty here and is not to be missed—sticky rice and chicken ensconced in lotus leaves, ha gao, char sui bao, stuffed eggplant and sui mai are stand-outs. (J.J.) $-$$. CC. OD. FB. Handicap access. 443-6455


P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

2500 N. Mayfair Road

Yes, it’s a chain and yes, it’s in a shopping mall (Mayfair), but P.F. Chang is a really good restaurant for Chinese and Asian fusion cuisine in a gorgeous, high-energy setting and with a modern, inventive twist. Here you’ll find lettuce wraps and street tacos; of the latter, there’s Jicama—either with wild-caught lobster, shrimp, red onion and Fresno peppers or Kung Pao chicken, crushed peanuts and cool cucumber slices. Virtually every menu item excites the eye and palate, and all are generously portioned and nicely presented. Hunan dragon wings, cauliflower tempura, edamame, banana spring rolls... great place for something a tad different. Look for the big stone horses! (J.J.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 607-1029


William Ho’s

3524 N. Oakland Ave.

William Ho’s serves quintessential Chinese American food: greasy, salty and overcooked. That’s not a novel niche, but this longstanding Shorewood restaurant stands out for its specialties: a bargain lunch buffet, inspired vegetarian options (which include orange-chicken-style tofu and a tofu casserole) and particularly its seafood menu. Fresh lobster and crab are served steamed or stir-fried (and at generous prices), and the shrimp is plump and well-prepared. Even with its colorful Chinese decorations, William Ho’s dining room is a little dark and dusty, so many regulars opt for takeout or delivery. (E.R.) $. CC. LB. RS. FB. 963-9781


COFFEE HOUSES AND BAKERIES


Amaranth Bakery & Café

3329 W. Lisbon Ave.

Amaranth Bakery is everything that a bakery should be, with the charming feel of an old friend who happens to be an exceptional baker. Amaranth has been around since 2006, has built up a word-of-mouth buzz, created some loyal brand-ambassadors and is more focused on producing high-quality bakery items with organic and fair-trade ingredients than establishing market ubiquity. It’s a gem waiting to be discovered. (E.E.) $. CC. 934-0587


Anodyne Coffee Roasters 

2920 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 489-0765

224 W. Bruce St., 276-8081

Big, sunny windows bring light into the cleanly designed interior of this coffeemaker-cum-coffee shop. A wide variety of tea is also on tap along with bagels and other bakery. The low hum of the coffee grinders doesn’t disturb the relaxed, conversational ambience. (D.L.) $. CC. Handicap access. 


Bella Caffe 

189 N. Milwaukee St., 273-5620

3815 N. Brookfield Road, 262-781-4521

Coffee of all kinds, tea and cider, bakery and sundaes, sandwiches and salads: Bella Caffe has many of the usual coffeehouse flavors. It’s also one of Milwaukee’s (and Brookfield’s) most attractive coffee shops. Bella’s high-fashion tables, chairs and comfortable seating areas, and its futuristic lighting fixtures are retro futurism at its finest; a gem of urban design. (D.L.) $. CC. 


Brewed Café

1208 E. Brady St. 

This Historic Brady Street attraction’s bright purple façade is hard to miss. The interior—also vibrant, furnished with comfortable recycled chairs and festooned with tinsel, stained glass, beads and local artists’ work—is hardly less eye-catching. As for the menu, expect hearty, healthy fare, including sandwiches, wraps, burritos, flatbread pizza, soups and salads. The coffee run-down is respectable with tasty seasonal selections. Hip and centrally located, Brewed Café is the perfect place to study, socialize or simply take in the appetizing sights and smells. (S.M.) $$. CC (Visa, Mastercard). OD. 276-2739


City Market 

2205 E. Capitol Drive, 962-0100

8700 W. Watertown Plank Road, 479-0479

City Market’s locations are bustling places humming with conversation. The coffee-sandwich shops serve Stone Creek along with a variety of tastefully composed breakfast and lunch specials, salads and pasta dishes. An array of delectable baked goods and desserts are on display. (J.B.) $. CC. NA. Handicap access.


City.Net Café 

306 E. Wisconsin Ave.

With a mirrored wall, portraits of jazz greats and a wide gamut of jazzy sounds coursing through its cozy confines, City.Net Café has a cosmopolitan, yet comfy take on a breakfast-lunch nook and coffee house. City.Net relies on a unique menu and the ability to prepare their several single-source and blended bean java varieties via their own in-house Abyssinia Coffee Roasters. Among their samiche (not sandwich) creations is a satisfying salmon and egg Panini, its fillings dusted with dried basil and served with a side of sweet syrup for dipping. Swap tomato for the egg, and it becomes a lunch item. Daily soups selections and specials such as rice and beans also figure into the midday fare. (J.L.R.) $. 336-1723


Colectivo Coffee Roasters 

170 S. First St., 765-9873

223 E. St. Paul Ave., 220-8330

777 E. Wisconsin Ave., U.S. Bank Building, 225-8970

1211 Washington St., Grafton, 262-377-5183 

1701 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, 223-4551

2211 N. Prospect Ave., 273-3753

2301 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 744-6117

2999 N. Humboldt Blvd., 292-3320

4500 N. Oakland Ave., 312-8295

5735 N. Bayshore Drive, Bayshore Town Center, 967-5754

6745 W. Wells St., 453-4800

9125 W. North Ave., Suite 101, 259-7948

11205 Cedarburg Road, Mequon, 262-302-4051

Formerly known as Alterra, Colectivo has become a local empire rivaling Starbucks in our area. Their brands of coffee are sold in stores and served in restaurants with success following wherever they open an outlet. Serving coffees, smoothies and signature drinks, Colectivo’s rustic-meets-industrial interiors make it a perfect place to curl up with a paper or a laptop. A mix of herbal teas completes Colectivo’s drink list; bakery and sandwiches are served. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. Handicap access.


Cranky Al’s

6901 W. North Ave.

The “cranky” in Cranky Al’s doesn’t refer to the customers that find the place closed during normal business hours—not only is Al shut down on Monday; it’s closed from noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday—but to the “hand-cranked” donuts that are the coffeehouse’s signature. The donuts have a deliciously lighter texture than the factory-produced competition, and they aren’t the only good thing on the menu of bakery, sandwiches and salads. Wednesday-Saturday from 4-8 p.m., Al cranks out homemade pizza with an array of toppings—everything from pineapple to anchovies. (D.L.) $-$$. 258-5282


Fuel Cafe 

818 E. Center St., 374-3835

630 S. Fifth St., 847-9580

For hellacious menu spice, try the homemade vegan chili, or maybe the Garden of Eatin’ sandwich slathered with jalapeño cream cheese. The bottom line and the starting line here is motorcycle racing. Trippy motorcycle cartoons adorn the booth seats. The ’zines on the rack range from Maximum Rock ’n’ Roll to Classic Bike, and dirt bike racing photos cover the walls. Here’s where Harley culture comes to chill with its hippie hangovers. Fuel recently opened a new branch in Walker’s Point. (K.L.) $. CC. Handicap access. 


Hi-Fi Café

2640 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Brightly decorated and inviting, this decidedly retro coffee shop in the Bay View neighborhood serves up hefty sandwiches in addition to organic, fair-trade coffee drinks, malts and baked goods. Vegetarians are particularly well served by a menu that offers veggie chili, falafel pitas, garden burgers and several other cheese and vegetable sandwiches (including a humus pita and a provolone muffalata with olive pepper salad). Breakfast options, such as omelets, eggs Benedict and a loaded breakfast burrito, are served until noon on weekdays and 1 p.m. on weekends. (E.R.) $. Cash Only. SB. OD. 486-0504


Java Train

4825 N. 132nd St., Butler

Java Train is a comfortable community hangout as well as a coffee and sandwich shop. The home cooking is reason to drive a little out of your way, especially the delicious daily soup specials and sandwiches like the ones mom made. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. 262-781-9555


The National

839 W. National Ave.

The National has gained a cult following based on Chef Nell Benton’s innovative and inspired culinary style. The menu is an eclectic mix as it’s one of the few places where you can order inventive breakfast dishes, tonkotsu ramen (Benton actually had a ramen cookbook published in 2015), or delectable hot and cold sandwiches with high-quality proteins paired with complementary flavors that pop. Keep in mind that seating at The National is limited, and it tends to attract a crowd of culinary connoisseurs during brunch time on weekends. (E.E.) $. CC. 431-6551


Rochambo Coffee & Tea House 

1317 E. Brady St.

With its funky bohemian atmosphere, second-story mezzanine and unique collection of art posters from the 1960s and ’70s, Rochambo’s ambiance stands out among local coffee shops. Wine and a small sandwich menu round out the list of coffee and tea. Recent additions include a specialty drinks such as a latte made with raw local honey and an iced coffee-rumchata combo. (D.L.) $. CC. 291-0095


Rocket Baby Bakery

6822 W. North Ave., 502-7323

2434 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 897-0483

The vivid exterior of their North Avenue location offers little clue of what’s inside. The interior has the classic feel of an early 20th-century bakery with tile floors, marble counters and wooden ceilings. The front window includes a display of European-style bread baked on-site. The bakery also serves as a café and offers locally roasted Anodyne coffee. Choose from croissants, scones or a cookie for a snack. Rocket Baby now has a Satellite shop in Bay View, as well. (J.B.) $.


Sherman Perk Coffee Shop

4924 W. Roosevelt Drive

Sherman Perk Coffee Shop would make a great setting for a sitcom. There’s always unique activity in the quirky little community hub, whether it be live music, their Saturday specialty omelets, or (during the season) Sunday Packer parties. Though it’s a bit off the beaten path, it has a unique charm that makes it worth a trip. (E.E.) $. CC. OD. 875-7375


600 East Café

600 E. Wisconsin Ave.

600 East Café is an attractively rehabbed space. It has wooden floors, exposed brick outer walls, an open-beamed ceiling and a short list of sandwiches, salads and wraps along with daily specials and a changing contingent of soups. The cheese melt ($6.79) is a classic on toast updated with mozzarella and provolone along with old-school cheddar. Twists on such favorites include a Caprese melt with mozzarella, Roma tomatoes and basil on a ciabatta roll. Bakery and coffee from various local vendors is served. 600 East Café is open weekdays 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eat in or carry out. (D.L.) $. 224-6594


Stone Creek Coffee

158 S. Barclay St., Radio Milwaukee, 270-0028

275 W. Wisconsin Ave., Grand Avenue Skywalk, 298-9965

422 N. Fifth St., 270-1008

601 E. Silver Spring Drive, 332-2285

1043 E. Summit Ave., Oconomowoc, 262-569-7375

2266 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 481-4215

2744 Hillside Drive, Delafield, 262-646-2241

4106 N. Oakland Ave., 964-1608

6969 N. Port Washington Road, 228-8699

8340 W. Bluemound Road, 443-1302

One of several area locations, Stone Creek’s remodeled Factory Store is perfect for a studious nosh or coffee with friends. This spacious, Cream City-brick establishment boasts two levels, a fireplace and a rentable conference room. Approximately 20 blend and single-origin coffees are available. The Milwaukee Blend is a smooth standard with great body. A respectable array of barista drinks and Rishi teas are offered and available snackage includes freshly made pastries, yogurt and fruit. (S.M.) $. CC. NA. Handicap access. 


Sven’s European Café 

2699 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 483-2233

Sven’s has done Herculean work to make the interior of the Bay View venue resemble an Amsterdam café, complete with long benches, wooden furniture and a nook with fireplace. Along with an array of tea and coffee drinks and scrumptious bakery, Sven’s offers a hearty sandwich-salad menu with such Euro-inspired options as the Bastille (turkey sandwich), the Autobahn (ham), the Parthenon (Greek salad) and the Coliseum (Caesar). Opens early for breakfast. (D.L.) $. CC.


CONTEMPORARY


Ardent

1751 N. Farwell Ave.

The wine, cocktail and beer list is as minimalist as the décor—lean and spare, although perfectly adequate. The menu is equally understated with simple labels for items such as “Milk,” “Escargot,” “Beef” and “Chicken.” But do not be misled by the simplicity; the food menu is the prime reason for being here. Be sure to make a reservation, although it is possible to find a spare seat earlier in the week. Also, keep the dining party small—intimacy is much of the charm. Solo diners and couples should consider sitting at the counter to watch the kitchen magicians at work. Every movement is in perfect coordination. The menu is constantly in flux; the “tasting menu” varies daily. (J.B.) $$$. CC. FB. 897-7022


Bacchus 

925 E. Wells St.

Bacchus is an expensive place that has it all: a setting overlooking Lake Park, a spacious and luxurious interior, an innovative contemporary American menu and fine service to match. The small touches, like flatware being replaced at every course, justify the expense. Dinner entrées include a selection of steaks, other meats and seafood. This is a very worthy restaurant in a setting it deserves. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 765-1166


Beer Line Café

2076 N. Commerce St. 

If you’re looking for a café with integrity where the food is good, the price reasonable and the atmosphere simple, relaxed and relaxing, the Beerline Café is entirely worth the hunt. This all-vegetarian restaurant, open mornings through evenings seven days a week, is named for its neighborhood where a railroad spur called the Beerline B once carried supplies along the Milwaukee River to the city’s historic breweries. Crepes, savory or sweet, are the specialty; and the café’s unique crepe variant, the cromelette, an omelet made on the crepe maker with a variety of carefully prepared and creative fillings. (J.S.) $-$$. OD. GF. 265-5644


Braise

1101 S. Second St.

Braise combines a cooking school with a restaurant. The chef-owner—active in the locally sourced ingredient movement—has put together a frequently changing menu with exceptional results. The restaurant has a rustic front bar and a dining room dominated with two communal tables constructed from the wood of bowling alleys formerly housed in the building. The menu changes daily due to the availability of the freshest ingredients. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 212-8843


Bumstead Provisions 

2671-2675 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Bumstead Provisions is a place to dine, drink, grab a sandwich at the deli or peruse the wall of beer, imported wines, meats, cheese and other fine staples. The mix of old and new is tied in with the eclectic menu and craft cocktails such as the duck fat infused old fashion or Bay View bloodhound. The sandwich menu includes many unique combinations including vegetarian options like the grape, taleggio and gouda melt or the South Shore Farmers Market filled with vegetables, pesto and bleu cheese on focaccia bread. (A.M.) $-$$. FB. SB. 481-2555


Café Calatrava

700 N. Art Museum Drive

Café Calatrava on the museum’s lower level serves lunch and Sunday brunch and is a destination dining spot whether you are visiting the museum or just want an outstanding meal. Chef Jason Gorman and his team are creating food that is as beautiful and inspirational as the art and magnificent view. Chef Gorman is known for his incomparable approach to local food and his commitment to serving regional produce, farm-raised meat and poultry and to working hand-in-hand with farmers. He brings all those assets to the delightful dishes served at the café. The menu changes every couple of weeks, but the true principles of Italy paired with Wisconsin ingredients are always present in each of the elegant and refined dishes. (A.M.) $$. SB. Handicap access. 224-3831


c. 1880

1100 S. First St.

Locally sourced ingredients are taken very seriously here. An entire menu page lists the sources of ingredients for this kitchen. While vegetables play a major role, the meats are as diverse, ranging from short rib, scallop, lamb, pheasant, trout and monkfish as entrées and pork belly and even foie gras as an appetizer. The setting is casual and the service warm. Prices are at the upper end of the spectrum but everything is of top quality. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. Handicap access. 431-9271


Company Brewing

735 E. Center St.

The new kid in Riverwest has come out of the gate swinging, featuring excellent food and a wide variety of beer, wine and tap cocktails. Company offers appetizers and around 15 dishes in vegetable, meat, fish and sandwich categories. Try the Company Burger topped with Le Cabrie cheese and caramelized onions and served on an English muffin. Their best beer is Riverwest Backyard Hops Pale Ale, brewed exclusively with hops grown in the backyards of Riverwesters. Look for its return in summer 2016. (F.K.R.C.) $-$$. FB. Handicap access. 930-0909


Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants

15 S. Moorland Road

Entered from the Brookfield Square parking lot, Cooper’s Hawk is both a compact wine shop and an expansive restaurant whose interior suggests a winery in the San Fernando Valley. The menu hits all major food groups, with burgers and sandwiches, soups and salads, and entrées of chicken, fish and beef. Contemporary touches, such as garlic mayo and braised tuna tacos, abound. Service is friendly and efficient at this local venue of a growing national chain. Wine, of course, is the recommended beverage. (D.L.) $$-$$$. CC. OD. RS. Handicap access. 262-785-9463


Easy Tyger

1230 E. Brady St.

You’re put at ease immediately by the simplicity of the foyer, the sofa and stuffed chairs, the homey kitchen counter and the pleasant manner of the staff. It’s like you’ve been invited to a friend’s house for dinner but that friend is a culinary genius who delights in concocting fun dishes inspired by international street food. Easy Tyger dishes are more than imaginative. They’re nutritionally sound, as locally sourced and fresh as possible, using only essential ingredients, fearlessly seasoned. Seasonal changes in fruits and veggies mean changes in protein ingredients. Seafood has seasons, too, if it’s to be fresh. Dishes change every few weeks. (J.S.) $$-$$$. FB. SB. OD. 226-6640


Elsa’s on the Park 

833 N. Jefferson St.

After more than 30 years in the same Downtown spot, Elsa’s classic, never-out-fashion look has endured. Patrons are met with a warm ambiance despite the cold hard surfaces of terrazzo floors and marble-topped tables. The menu is simple yet delicious. Tempting deserts are displayed on the menu’s first page, with the bold declaration: “Life is short. Order desert first.” What follows are unique takes on American comfort food, such as the Greek maiden burger marinated in white wine and topped with feta cheese and black olives. (D.L.) $$. CC. FB. FF. LT. Handicap access. 765-0615


Firefly Urban Bar & Grill

7754 Harwood Ave.

The plates range from small to large. Start with crab cakes, calamari or mushroom risotto lollipops and move on to black truffle flatbread, grilled tenderloin or something spicy like jalapeño and Parmesan pork chops. The Firefly is a great setting for a relaxing evening. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 431-1444


Hi Hat Lounge/The Garage 

1701 N. Arlington Place

Alike in originality, contrasting in atmosphere, the conjoined pubs offer affordable, high-quality comfort food daily until midnight. Classic and innovative craft cocktails made with fresh ingredients and a good selection of beers are served in both rooms. The low-key elegance of the architecturally stunning Lounge facilitates conversation, and the handmade conservationist décor of The Garage is a pleasant conversation topic. Every demographic is welcome at this popular Brady Street landmark with occasional live jazz and The Garage’s big screen TV. (J.S.) $$. CC. FB. FF. OD. SB. LT. 220-8090


Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub

222 E. Erie St., Suite 100

Hinterland set the standards for a gastropub when it first opened: have a bar or two, keep things casual and, above all, pay attention to the menu. Hinterland keeps up with current trends with Sriracha-smoked peanuts. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. Handicap access. 727-9300


Juniper61

6030 W. North Ave.

Juniper61 has a casual contemporary setting and fare to match. Start with tempura green beans and move on to salads or a meatball bánh mì with Asian slaw. Heartier appetites will find entrées like saffron scallops or steer tenderloin. The menu isn’t large, but it is thoughtful. Every neighborhood should have a restaurant like this. (J.B.) $$. CC. SB. Handicap access. 727-6161


Kil@wat 

139 E. Kilbourn Ave.

With its serene, uncluttered décor, Kil@wat is the star of the InterContinental Hotel. The menu wanders from homey fair to trendy items such as seared scallops, polenta cakes and beet salad. Remember the classic Big Boy double-decker burger? It’s on the menu! (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. Handicap access. 291-4793


The Knick 

1030 E. Juneau Ave.

The floors and metal-edged tables are retro dinette but the colors are bright and contemporary, with rich burnished gold, ruby red and azure blue. Sinuous wood partitions provide privacy for diners. The menu includes sumptuous appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrées. The bar is well stocked and martini friendly. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. 272-0011


Lazy Susan MKE

2378 S. Howell Ave.

Lazy Susan, the cozy restaurant in Bay View, is aptly named with its atmosphere of hospitality and shared family meals. The cuisine, however, is modern. The menu changes constantly, sometimes on a daily basis, depending on what’s available and fresh. It’s divided into sections of starters and “mains” (entrées). All dishes are meant for sharing. (L.M.) CC. FB. SB. RS (telephone only). 988-7086


Merriment Social

240 E. Pittsburgh Ave.

Entering the expansive space gives you the feeling of walking into a hosted party where you are the guest of honor. The bright lights and artwork on the wall add to the soft industrial feel. The craft cocktails are creative libations that are a generous pour and have fun signature names. There is an Americanized dim sum cart, several vegan and fish entrées, a superb hamburger and wonderful desserts. (A.M.) $$. FB. Handicap access. 

645-0240


Milwaukee Sail Loft

649 E. Erie St.

With its deck overlooking the river, Milwaukee Sail Loft is a perfect spot for watching the boats sail by. From name and location you might peg the Loft as a seafood place, but while it offers swordfish steak, Maine lobster-stuffed ravioli, seafood Diablo and grilled mahi tacos, the menu is eclectic with all food groups and most of the world’s continents represented. The Loft serves everything from meatloaf to chicken Rangoon and humus. (D.L.) $$-$$$$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 223-0100


Morel

430 S. Second St.

The atmosphere is laid back with a European farmhouse feel and a bonus area where you can see what is happening in the kitchen. It’s a great spot to enjoy a craft cocktail and engage with the very friendly staff. The menu changes almost daily, but don’t worry if you are like me and get your mouth set on something you had the first go around; Chef Jonathan Manyo keeps some of the popular favorites like the homemade ricotta cavetelli or varies slightly from the original in other inventive and delicious preparations sure not to disappoint. (A.M.) $$$. FB. Handicap access. 897-0747


ParkSide 23

2300 Pilgrim Square Drive, Brookfield

Local foods are the focus. This means that the meats and cheeses are from Wisconsin and summertime will feature the bounty of an on-site garden. The interior has earthy tones and a fusion of country charm and urbanity. The bar is a relaxing spot for a craft beer, preferably from Wisconsin. The menu is organized into three price categories. Nearly half of the items fall into the lowest. A huge, stuffed pepper and vegetable risotto are among these. Braised short ribs are up a bracket and worth every penny. This is a very popular place, but even when the tables are filled the kitchen keeps pace. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. GF. Handicap access. 262-784-7275


Rumpus Room

1030 N. Water St.

The Bartolotta group’s idea of a gastropub is a casual place that hints at Baroque elegance. The beer list is stronger than the wine and the back bar has depth in whiskeys. Evenings offer a fine list of Wisconsin cheeses and smoked meats. The entrées merge comfort food with more ambitious fare. Try the soothing lamb Bolognese stew. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 292-0100


Ruscello

2424 N. Mayfair Road

When Nordstrom’s opened at Mayfair Mall in 2015, visitors were surprised to discover a sleek, modern restaurant within the store. Ruscello’s contemporary dining room offers a clear view of the bustling kitchen, though it’s separated by glass so there’s no extra noise. The stylish, fully stocked bar is a great place for a signature cocktail. The menu works just as well for a light lunch or a satisfying dinner. There are several appetizers. To eat on the lighter side, you may want to try one the many salads. All of the sandwiches served include remarkable light and crispy, house-made, smoked, sea salt frites so airy they practically float up off the plate. Hearty entrées and outstanding desserts top the menu. (S.H.G.) $$. CC. FB. FF. OD. Handicap access. 203-6900


Sanford 

1547 N. Jackson St.

Sanford is in good hands after the long reign of Sanford and Angie D’Amato. Owner-chef Justin Aprahamian was recently named a James Beard finalist for Best Chef in the Midwest. Weekdays offer four- and seven-course menus that wander around the world—the chef’s tour. Otherwise, the main menu still has the grilled tuna with cumin wafers that defined the early days of Sanford. Expect an exceptional experience. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. RS. FB. 276-9608


Storyhill BKC 

5100 W. Bluemound Road 

The latest venue from the owners of Maxie’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dinner menu is divided into “Taste,” “Share” and “Pass” sections inviting you to commune on small to large plates. The inventive dishes consisting of prime grass-fed beef with masa pudding and avocado cream, roasted pumpkin agnolotti (fresh pasta pillows) with crimini mushrooms and maple brown butter and lake trout with tomato jam and sumac vinaigrette. The menu at times is nostalgic with a modern sense. (J.R.) FB. RS. CC. $$. Handicap access. 539-4424


Swig

217 N. Broadway

Swig’s front is open-air on warm days, with an intimate bar and a dining room with warm wood tones. The menu offers sandwiches for lunch as well as salads, entrées and “Small Plates,” the international version of tapas. Creativity is in bloom here. Look for the wild mushroom gnocchi and the lobster-stuffed poblano pepper and try a side of garlic asparagus with grape tomatoes. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. OD. SB. RS. Handicap access. 431-7944


The Tandem

1848 W. Fond du Lac Ave.

Owner Caitlin Cullen, who previously cooked at Bavette la Boucherie, offers a full service lunch and dinner restaurant. The menu reflects the diversity of the neighborhood with an emphasis on soul food, plus vegetarian options, Thai, Latin American and even a Detroit twist thanks to Cullen’s upbringing near there. A family style dining special is offered each night, including udon noodle soup, lamb tagine and a whole chicken that can be prepared roasted in Dominican style, Georgia fried or spicy Memphis fried, plus fixings. Lunch options skew towards sandwiches like hot dogs three ways, Cubano and a beet Reuben. (L.M.) $-$$. 885-1919


Tess

2499 N. Bartlett Ave.

Upon entering the comfortable space, you’re greeted with a menu that offers up three courses. Big eaters will be happy to know that one item from each the course options will satiate; those of us with smaller stomachs can rest easy knowing no course is absolute. The crab cake and cider-brined grilled pork tenderloin are hard to beat. Beer aficionados take note: Their 14 taps, including one nitro, encompass all styles, from IPAs to sours to stouts to pilsners, and if you still don’t find something you like, there’s a comprehensive bottle list (F.K.R.C.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. FF. RS. GF. Handicap access. 964-8377


Tre Rivali

200 N. Broadway

The Mediterranean inspired menu features virtually all-from-scratch foods including pastas, pizza dough and cheeses. Also vital to the menu’s identity is the use of a wood-fired grill and oven, responsible for developing the charred textures and robust, rustic flavors for which the cuisine is known. The food is, without questions the hero of Tre Rivali, but the décor deserves special mention as it also leaves a lasting impression—or should I say makes a positive first impression. Oversized Spanish tile flooring provides a colorful mosaic that complements the friendly welcome received upon entry. (K.L.L.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 291-3971


Triskele’s

1801 S. Third St. 

Triskele’s menu is fluid and changes frequently, sometimes to reflect the season, other times because the chef just wants to. Often, you’ll find dishes with soft shell crab, Prince Edward Island mussels, or other seafood delicacies as featured specials. Yet, the core of the menu maintains a balanced trio of choices between seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes. One of the best things about Triskele’s is their amazing special deals. Happy hour (4-6 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday) boasts all sort of ways to save a little money with wallet-friendly appetizers and drink specials. (S.H.G.) $$. CC. FF. RS (5+). 837-5950


Twisted Cork

S74 W16832 Janesville Road, Muskego

Twisted Cork gives you the feeling of spending the evening in an old friend’s basement bar, telling stories and enjoying good small-batch wines, fine spirits and about 60 craft beers. The appetizers are worth the trip. The menu offers nine sandwiches to choose from. Highly recommended is the bourbon Sriracha pork shoulder. (A.M.) $$. FB. Handicap access. 262-895-9164


Wall Street Drink Exchange

890 Elm Grove Road

Wall Street Drink Exchange is a hidden gem in the city’s western suburbs for contemporary American comfort food with an Italian accent and Wisconsin ingredients. Tomato bruschetta, shrimp scampi, chicken Parmesan and spaghetti zucchini share the menu with cheese curds and a Wisconsin cheese board. Nueske’s bacon and Purple Door ice cream find their way into burgers and desserts. The entrees are creatively prepared and include steaks and chops, seafood and chicken with some vegetarian options. Soups are tasty and prepared in house. (D.L.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. FF. GF. OD. RS. SB. Handicap access. 262-290-2309


Water Buffalo

249 N. Water St.

Water Buffalo offers great river views as well as outdoor seating along the RiverWalk. The interior is dazzling with two levels, two bars and contemporary artwork. The menu is casual with appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrées at moderate prices. Try seared ahi bites and rustic lasagna. Every table has a great view. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FF. OD. 431-1133


Wolf Peach

1818 N. Hubbard St.

Perched on the hill where Roots once resided, Wolf Peach has added a wood-fired oven for pizzas. The menu is rustic European with such delights as smoked trout with mizuna (Japanese greens), honeycomb, watermelon radish, deep fried baguette and coal-roasted lemon purée. The grilled octopus is ever so tender. The tradition of locally sourced ingredients is maintained and the kitchen continues to provide surprises. The name? Wolf Peach comes from an old German term for a tomato. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. RS. OD. SB. GF. Handicap access. 374-8480


CUBAN


Cubanitas 

728 N. Milwaukee St.

Cubanitas offers a bit of Latin-style elegance, conjuring leisure and a good cigar. And then there is the food—homey Cuban favorites such as ropa vieja, shredded flank in a Creole sauce, and pollo asado, roasted chicken with garlic and lime. Begin with an empanada or two and finish with a slice of key lime pie. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. OD. LT. V. 225-1760



DELI


Bumstead Provisions

2671-2675 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Bumstead Provisions is a place to dine, drink, grab a sandwich at the deli or peruse the many local offerings, the giant wall of beer, imported wines, meats, cheese and other fine staples. The menu is as diverse as the libations including 14 sandwiches including a few vegetarian options. The lobster cheesesteak is a popular and outstanding choice with sliced rib eye, Velveeta “wiz” and topped with butter-poached lobster. Appetizers, snacks and boards are also plentiful with choices that include a giant warm, salty pretzel weighing in at 1.5 pounds and served with beer cheese sauce. (A.M.) $$. CC. FB. SB. RS. 481-2555


Gouda’s Italian Deli

218 N. Water St.

Gouda’s Italian Deli is a piece of Little Italy in the Third Ward. With sausages hanging from the rafters, a deli case full of cheese and olives and dark wood shelves stocked with an array of packaged and canned goods, Gouda’s is a great place to stock up on all things Italian—and to have a sandwich. You can order them to go but what’s the hurry? Gouda’s has half-a-dozen tables for two crowded onto its vintage tiled floor. Prepared fresh and served on hefty submarine-style Italian rolls, the filling choices include the Greta Garbo (veggie), the Luciano (tuna), the Bugsy Moran (ham and Swiss) and the Tommy Gun (salami), most served with olive spread, mozzarella or some other Italian accent. (D.L.) $. OD. Handicap access. 221-6565


Koppa’s Fulbeli Deli

1940 N. Farwell Ave.

The centerpiece of this independently owned grocery store is its acclaimed Fulbeli Deli. Order at the counter from a menu of sandwiches with names taken from the solar system. “Earth” is bologna with American cheese; “Uranus” is shaved corned beef and Swiss, and so on through the rest of the planets. (J.B.) $. CC. OD. 273-1273


Milwaukee Waterfront Deli 

761 N. Water St.

Waterfront Deli offers a variety of sandwiches, soups, salads, pizzas and sushi, as well as bottled wines and artisan cheese. Daily specials are even posted on its website and social media. Deceptively roomy, the deli features second-floor seating, where food is delivered via a quirky conveyor belt system. There, beautiful artwork and giant chandeliers illuminate this novel eatery. (J.C.) $. CC. OD. NA. Handicap access. 220-9300


Rochester Deli

143 W. Broadway, Waukesha

The Rochester Deli is a family business launched by Chef Dan Strackbein, formerly executive chef of the Milwaukee Athletic Club. Brisk business expanded his takeout deli into a counter-service, sit-down operation. Sandwiches and salads are modestly priced but made with good ingredients. The soups and bakery are homemade. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. 262-522-9611


DINER


Café at the Plaza

1007 N. Cass St.

Part Art Deco diner, part European-style café, the Café at the Plaza is a charming spot tucked inside the Plaza Hotel. Recently, the menu has been given a remake. Breakfast options include spiced pumpkin pancakes and a raft of interesting items, including house-made falafel and poutine. A distinct Mexican accent can be heard in the breakfast burrito and a beef brisket empanada. Local ingredients come into play. Delicious standbys remain, including a chose-your-options omelet. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. SB. 272-0515


Maxfield’s Pancake House

333 W. Brown Deer Road, 247-4994

2727 N. Mayfair Road, 453-6000

The menu travels across the globe with delicious ease. Omelets and skillet dishes with Greek and Mexican themes are on tap along with more common but no-less-tempting items. Salads, sandwiches and soup round out the lunch options, but breakfast, as the Pancake House name suggests, is a crowning achievement. (J.L.R.) $. FF. 


Miss Katie’s Diner

1900 W. Clybourn St.

Miss Katie’s is in the mold of a classic 1950s diner. It opens for breakfast and makes a reliable omelet. Lunch and dinner offer more substantial fare. The Blue Plate Specials include diner classics like meat loaf and roast turkey. Dinner gets a bit fancier with barbecue ribs and Sicilian filet. The thin-cut onion rings are always good. Save room for a milkshake or malt. (J.B.) FF. SB. RS. Handicap access. 344-0044


DUTCH


Café Benelux

346 N. Broadway

The rooftop deck is a prime spot for watching the activities of Milwaukee’s Third Ward. The menu, not surprisingly, has a few Dutch and Belgian items. Bitterballen are Dutch meatballs served with curry ketchup and the Belgian mussels are prepared three ways. The star item is the frites, which are thin and crisp, served with a variety of sauces. Opt for the roasted garlic aioli, which never disappoints. The rest of the menu wanders around casual fare with a sound selection of burgers, sandwiches and a few entrées. The list of Belgian and Belgian-inspired beers is exceptional. (J.B.) $$. FB. OD. SB. LT. CC. Handicap access. 501-2500


Café Hollander 

2608 N. Downer Ave., 963-6366

7677 W. State St., 475-6771

The Café Hollander offers casual European fare in a setting to match. The menu focuses on things Dutch and Belgian. Think heaping bowls of steamed mussels and fries with a side of mayonnaise. Dining is on two levels; the large bar has a distinguished menu of Belgian beers. Though the split pea soup is very Dutch, the menu has considerable diversity, adding burgers, pastas and a daily fish fry to this Low Country mixture. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. LT. SB. Handicap access. 


FRENCH


Café Grace

11200 W. Burleigh St.

Café Grace is just one component of a larger footprint of newer eateries at The Mayfair Collection in Wauwatosa. The Gougères are little bites of baked paté choux pastry filled with grand cru fondue. The Cassolette d’Escargots ($12) is a successful combination of two classic French preparations. Soupe a l’Oignon arrives at your table in perfect photo shoot-ready form. I can imagine that dining alfresco at Café Grace on a nice day might transport you to a sidewalk café in Paris where you’re surrounded by some of the choicest shopping destinations available. (K.L.L.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. RS. 837-6310


Coquette Café 

316 N. Milwaukee St.

Milwaukee’s most authentic French menu is filled with standards such as coq au vin, pommes frites, croque monsieur and a fine onion soup. Sample appetizers with wine or try the locally produced Bière de Garde, a fine beer. Good food needn’t be painfully expensive. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. OD. FB. SB. RS. 291-2655


Lake Park Bistro 

3133 E. Newberry Blvd.

Chef Adam Siegel is a 2008 James Beard Best Chef in the Midwest award winner. The Bistro’s setting is in Lake Park and has unbeatable views of Lake Michigan. The menu is all about France, ranging from foie gras to steak and frites. The French wine list is exceptional. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. RS. FF. FB. SB. Handicap access. 962-6300


Le Rêve Patisserie and Café

7610 Harwood Ave.

A patisserie and café of distinction, Le Rêve boasts desserts that look like works of art. Expect French classics like steak au poivre, bouillabaisse and steamed mussels. Daily specials include delicacies rainbow trout and grilled, bone marrow-crusted beef tenderloin. The bar has a full range of cocktails plus wine and beer. Open from breakfast through dinner. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. SB. Handicap access. 778-3333


Pastiche Bistro & Wine Bar

4313 W. River Lane, Brown Deer, 354-1995

411 E. Mason St., Hotel Metro, 225-3270

Recently, Pastiche expanded to Downtown Milwaukee, having now closed their Bay View location. Regardless, it’s a great place to order some wine, enjoy some onion soup, and then perhaps, for an entrée, try coq au vin, trout amandine or steak frites. The interior has understated Gallic charm. The lunch and dinner menus do differ. Entrées are fewer at lunch but considerably cheaper. The wine list is not large but is thoughtful. In general the prices seem about right. This is a delightful restaurant in an unlikely setting. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. RS. 


FROZEN CUSTARD


Fred’s Frozen Custard & Grill

4726 W. Vliet St.

The neighborhood drive-in is nearly extinct, fallen victim to fast food chains. A rare exception is Fred’s, located in Washington Heights. It’s a small place with standing room only. But there are reasons Fred’s has been in business since 1967. Their roast beef sandwich is a specialty and the burgers are made of fresh beef. Save room for dessert in the form of Fred’s frozen custard sundaes. (J.B.) $. NA. 771-6270


Gilles

7515 W. Bluemound Road

Gilles Frozen Custard has been going strong since 1938, so you know they must be doing something right. Of course, how can you go wrong with fried cheddar cheese curds and a juicy Big Daddy Burger with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup and Miracle Whip? But the frozen custard is the star of the show. Be sure to try the novelty items like one of “those things,” vanilla custard on a peanut butter cookie covered in a chocolate shell and on a stick. While some of the food may be a little rich, Gilles spreads its wealth around the community by supporting a different charity every month. (J.F.) $. NA. 453-4875


Kopp’s Frozen Custard

7631 W. Layton Ave., 282-4312

5373 N. Port Washington Road, 961-3288

18880 W. Bluemound Road, 262-789-9490

Kopp’s means large burgers and plenty of frozen custard with many weekly specials. The Layton Avenue location is the best—complete with an outdoor seating area shaded by pine trees and a sculpture garden—fast food meets a deluxe setting! Each venue in this locally-owned chain has a unique, imaginative personality. (J.B.) $. NA. Handicap access.


Leon’s Frozen Custard

3131 S. 27th St.

Leon’s is the Milwaukee stereotype for “Happy Days.” The business began in 1942 and the current structure was built during the ’50s. It is the real thing, not a Sonic clone. Come here for the frozen custard, made daily. Otherwise, there are burgers (which are more like sloppy joes) or hot dogs. (J.B.) $. NA. 383-1784


GERMAN


Bavarian Bierhaus

700 W. Lexington Blvd.

As the former site of the Bavarian Inn, the Bierhaus has quite a history to live up. Fortunately, they do German food, beer and atmosphere right. The Bierhaus works within the German purity law, which demands a beer’s ingredients consist solely of hops, yeast, malt and water. In addition to house-brewed beer, they also offer a solid variety of German classics on tap. A good rule for visiting the Bierhaus is to come hungry; portions are huge including schnitzel and sausages served with mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and fried cabbage (F.K.R.C.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. RS. FF. SB. Handicap access. 236-7000


Café Bavaria

7700 Harwood Ave.

This is the Lowlands Group’s vision of Germany complete with a proper casual décor, a decent beer list and a menu with expected items like Wiener schnitzel and lots of wurst. But it also lightens up with sandwiches, salads and even a Bavarian take on the Vietnamese phở. This is a sociable place with big communal tables. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 271-7700


Jack Pandl’s Whitefish Bay Inn 

1319 E. Henry Clay St.

Pandl’s has served German and American fare since 1915. In addition to Wiener schnitzel, roast duck and beef rouladen, the house specialty is a massive German pancake. The dining rooms are filled with memorabilia from Whitefish Bay’s long-gone resort days. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. SB. FF. FB. RS. 964-3800


Kegel’s Inn

5901 W. National Ave.

From the Bavarian-style trimmings of its stone façade building to rich décor of the dark, wooden-paneled dining room surrounded by lush wall murals and Old-World wrought iron fixtures, Kegel’s places a diner in the mindset for a hearty meal. Entrees include a good variety of steaks and chops, but the heart of the menu is in the German house specialties, which includes a half boneless roasted duck, marinated rabbit over noodles, known in the old country as hasenpfeffer; and beef rouladen, a butterfly steak stuffed with bacon, onion, and pickles. German beer is on tap. (M.P.) $-$$. CC. FB. FF. 257-9999


Mader’s 

1041 N. Old World Third St. 

In 1902, an ambitious young man from Germany, Charles Mader, poured every penny he had into a restaurant in Milwaukee. Though it moved (once) since, Mader’s has not only been a Milwaukee landmark and cultural cornerstone but can boast a national reputation as one of the finest German restaurants in the U.S. In addition to the restaurant itself, there’s the Knight’s Bar and famous second-floor gift shop filled with imported beer steins and collectable Hummel figurines. The menu includes favorites like Wienerschnitzel, Kasseler rippchen, sauerbraten, duck strudel, rouladen, sausages galore and much more. (J.J.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. FF. SB. RS. Handicap access. 271-3377


Wegner’s St. Martins Inn 

11318 W. St. Martins Road, Franklin

Though it’s primarily a German restaurant, Wegner’s reputation has been built on their Friday fish fry. The standard fry here is beer battered haddock, though breaded perch is available, too. If you can’t decide between them, get them both on a combo plate. Potato pancakes here are a bit different than most: They’re practically deep fried, lending a hash brown patty crunch and solid golden crust that all other potato pancakes lack. German potato salad is also an option if you can resist the calling of the pancakes. (L.M.) $-$$. CC. RS. OD. FF. FB. 425-9971


GREEK


Apollo Cafe 

1310 E. Brady St. 

With its ancient-modern interior, translating Greek motifs into contemporary design, Apollo Café is a neighborhood favorite for spinach pie in flaky philo dough, a pair of grape leaves stuffed with rice and a plate of warm pita bread. The menu also has plenty of meat including Athenian chicken, beef and tuna souflaki and the Apollo burger, the latter a fast-bite of Eastern Mediterranean food. The veggie plate is a good place to start exploring. Wine and beer are served. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. LT. Handicap access. 272-2233


Cosmos Café

7203 W. North Ave.

A crowded place with counter service, Cosmos offers a full chalkboard of menu items. Aside from jerk chicken, burgers and those Hellenic American hybrids, the Greek burger and fries, the menu is all-Mediterranean with gyros, pita sandwiches, salads, humus, spanakopita (spinach pie) and falafel. Among the dinner items is the chicken plate with lemony chicken kabobs, rice topped with eggplant, salad and pita bread. Daily soup and other specials are also available. (D.L.) $. CC. FF. OD. 257-2005


Dino’s Taverna

777 N. Jefferson St.

The Taverna has been a center of Greek life for centuries. Dino’s elegantly updates the concept with its black-and-stainless steel bar and Doric-columned, just-below-street-level room. The wine list is long and the food includes American sandwiches and tasty Greek specialties. (D.L.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. 221-1777


Golden Gyros 

7233 W. Lincoln Ave.

Gyros and custard aren’t quite the dynamic duo that burgers and fries have become, but at Golden Gyros they make this odd couple work well together. You also have the option of choosing the old standby of burgers and fries if you’re so inclined, along with a legion of other menu items. The West Allis mainstay features large portions at a reasonable price. Make sure to bring cash, as they do not accept credit cards. (R.H.) $. Cash only. 541-7580


Gyro Palace 

602 S. Second St., 298-9622

5336 N. Port Washington Road, 332-2210

5308 S. 27th St., 281-5199

Gyro Palace is well worth a visit, offering a surprisingly extensive menu beyond gyros, including chicken shish-kebob marinated with olive oil, garlic and oregano served atop a pita with onions and tomatoes, and dolmades, grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice topped with a mild lemon rice sauce. Your order is taken at the counter. Delivery is also available. (D.L.) $. CC. FF. Handicap access. 


Mykonos Gyro & Café

1014 N. Van Buren St.

You won’t leave Mykonos hungry. Even a humble chicken shish-kebob sandwich special comes with fries, soda, white bread and a little salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and black olives. The Café opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast; its lunch and dinner menu includes spinach pie, moussaka and pastitsio. The sunny, open atmosphere conveys the right impression. Yes, it’s counter service, but you’ll feel as if you’ve just grabbed a quick bite in Athens. (D.L.) $. CC. Handicap access. 224-6400


Oakland Gyros

2867 N. Oakland Ave., 963-1393

530 W. Layton Ave., 744-2555

One of Milwaukee’s favorite counter-service restaurants offers gyros and shish-kebob sandwiches, spinach pie, Greek salads and even plain old cheeseburgers. The lamb shank features a large piece of tender, flavorful meat in a brown sauce, served with warm pita, black olives, feta and choice of fries or salad. (D.L.) $. CC. LT.


Ouzo Café

776 N. Milwaukee St.

The order-at-the-counter restaurant offers a full menu of Greek specialties, freshly prepared in the kitchen and served at your table. Sure, you can order gyros, but why not sample the spanakopita (spinach pie), dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), feta-laced salads, lamb chops or grilled octopus. Many different combo platters are available. The Athenian chicken is lemony and tender, a big portion served with roasted potatoes. Open late, Ouzo’s bar options include a selection of imported beer; domestic, Greek and other foreign wine; martinis and specialty cocktails including the Greek Kiss made with cherry vodka and white crème de cacao. And yes, the Café’s namesake, the anise-flavored liquor called ouzo, is available. (D.L.) $-$$. FB. OD. Handicap access. 


The PeachTree Restaurant 

15419 W. National Ave.

The PeachTree exceeds expectations by serving affordable Greek and American cuisine in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. The mammoth menu features senior specials, lunch specials, dinner specials and weekly specials. Fortunately, the Greek side of the menu doesn’t begin and end with gyros, but offers traditional favorites including chicken shish-kabob, moussaka, pasticcio and spanakopita. (E.P.) $-$$. CC. FB. FF. Handicap access. 262-787-2911


INDIAN/PAKISTANI


Anmol 

711 W. Historic Mitchell St. 

You don’t go to Anmol for atmosphere. It’s tucked into a small storefront and, since it’s Pakistani and not Indian, even the usual Kama Sutra kitsch is absent from the walls. Although the ambience is austere, the food is excellent. The beef and lamb is Zabiha halal, slaughtered according to Muslim tradition, and Amish farmers feed the chickens. The large-portioned entrées also include fish and vegetarian options. Sit back and watch the soccer scores on the Pakistani or Indian satellite channels beamed through the big TV and top off your meal with creamy mango lassi. (D.L.) $-$$. CC. NA. 672-7878


Bollywood Grill

1038 N. Jackson St.

It’s a nice touch in keeping with its name: Colorful Indian musicals fill the dining room screen at Bollywood Grill. The daily lunch buffet includes many items seldom seen in these parts, including spinach pakora, chicken chili and bhutara, along with the expected biryani and tandoori dishes. The chicken is tender, there are many vegetarian options, and the cooks aren’t afraid of spices. (D.L.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 271-8200


Bombay Sweets

3401 S. 13th St.

Bombay Sweets doesn’t stint on spice. The counter-service all-vegetarian restaurant, located in an inconspicuous South Side strip mall, doesn’t dial back the hot flavor for American tastes. Everything is under $8, including a wide array of rice and vegetable-based dishes, eight choices of breads plus samosa and other appetizers. The glass display cases are filled with snacks and deserts sold by the pound. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. NA. 383-3553


Durbar 

1011 N. Astor St., Park East Hotel

Durbar is a post-modern Mughal Indian fantasy of painted panels, glass-beaded chandeliers, ornate umbrellas suspended from rafters, multiple rooms and no less than two bars, one of them made of glass with colored lights glowing from within. Dinner prices can be as luxurious as the setting but the lunch buffet is a bargain. Most days the buffet includes several tender chicken dishes and several vegetarian items, spiced moderately but flavorfully. Durbar is a feast for palate as well as the eyes. (D.L.) $$$. LB. FB. SB. Handicap access. 272-1011.


India Garden

2930 N. 117th St.

As all good Indian restaurants should, India Garden offers a multitude of curries. Lamb curry, beef, chicken, goat and fish curries are a solid starting point. Well-known classics like chicken tikka masala and chicken Madras are pleasantly spiced and well prepared. The tandoori chicken, chicken marinated in spiced yogurt sauce, then baked in the charcoal clay tandoori oven, is delectable. If you prefer to go meatless, you’ll have a lot to choose from at India Garden. Try the aloo gobhi—cauliflower, potatoes and tomatoes cooked together with flavorful spices. The vegetable Manchurian carrot, green bean and cabbage fritters tossed in a spicy sauce, are also quite good. (S.H.G.) $$. FB. LB. 235-9220


Indian Bazaar 

5254 S. 27th St. 

A well-kept secret for local foodies and a reliable quick fix for South Asian ex-pats, the dining area is at the back of this unassuming Indian grocery. Order at the little window from a surprisingly extensive menu. Selections span the subcontinent’s cuisine from southern to the Indo-Chinese fusion found along its northeastern border. All vegetarian, you’ll get soups, delicate dosas, fresh breads, savory samosas, chat, uthappam, fiery curries, kormas and koftas, classic lassi and other beverages, and pan-regional desserts. Eat in picnic style (plastic cutlery and paper plates), or take home. (P.M.) $. 325-6480


Kabana Grill

1828 N. Farwell Ave.

Kabana Grill has delightful ambiance and a large Indian-Pakistani menu. The accent is on Pakistani, given the beef dishes on the menu and the use of Halal meats. Offered are mutton and lamb, beef, chicken, seafood, vegetarian dishes and many unusual items (tandoori mutton is seldom tasted around here) plus a good selection of naan and grilled breads. The Kabana sampler is an excellent way to try your choice of three attractively served, fresh-tasting vegetarian selections. Friday brings a lunch buffet and Saturday and Sunday, a more extensive brunch buffet, served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (D.L.) $$. LB. 291-4000


Maharaja 

1550 N. Farwell Ave.

Maharajah’s interior has undergone a welcome facelift and the menu has been tweaked, but Milwaukee’s longest running Indian restaurant continues to draw crowds on the strength of its food. The lavish lunch buffet, with many meat and vegetarian dishes, has been a perennial favorite for flavor and variety. Not only will you not leave hungry, but most of us would be unable to find room to taste every item. The dinner menu goes beyond the norm for local Indian restaurants. (D.L.) $$. CC. FB. RS. LB. 276-2250


Royal India

3400 S. 27th St.

Royal India’s specialties are from the clay tandoor oven, whether flatbreads or a sizzling platter of jumbo shrimp. Meats tend to be lamb and chicken and vegetarians will find the menu a pleasure. The levels of spicing make the dishes accessible yet flavorful. When Royal India opened it was one of Milwaukee’s best restaurants. That still holds true today. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. LB. Handicap access. 647-9600


Taj Mahal 

5114 S. 108th St. 

Walk in and be surrounded by the aroma of Indian spices in a part of town better known for fast food. The menu has all the expected standards but manages to pack a few surprises, like the duck and lobster dishes. The tandoor oven offers a few unique items not usual to Indian restaurant fare. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. RS. SB. FF. Handicap access. 427-5900


Tandoor House 

1117 S. 108th St.

The East Indian menu packs few surprises, but the tandoor oven produces good flatbreads and succulent tandoori chicken. Curries are tame unless they’re ordered “extra spicy.” Among the ample vegetarian entrées are thalis—lentil crepes filled with curries. Meat curries include chicken, lamb, goat and even beef. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. LB. 777-1600


IRISH


County Clare 

1234 N. Astor St.

County Clare provides its customers a taste of Ireland through its music, food and drink. Here you will find Gaelic specialties like Irish stew and shepherd’s pie. Even the architecture itself is Irish inspired with several elegant, stain glassed windows. Come for a pint of Guinness or enjoy the live music they provide several nights a week. (A.V.) $$-$$$. CC. OD. FB. Handicap access. 272-5273


The Harp Irish Pub

113 E. Juneau Ave. 

The Harp, with its popular deck on the Milwaukee River, has done an exemplary job of bridging authentic pub traditions—great beer, atmosphere and Irish pride—with clever updates. Alongside pub-grub standards such as modestly priced Reubens, fish fries and burgers, you’ll also find menu items that are a bit more contemporary, like a spicy Sriracha chicken sandwich and a chipotle chicken wrap. The daily drink specials are great for those on a budget. (L.K.) $-$$. CC. OD. FF. FB. Handicap access. 289-0700


Mo’s Irish Pub 

142 W. Wisconsin Ave., 272-0721

10842 W. Bluemound Road, 774-9782

Whether you’re catching a game with a local brew, listening to live music, competing in trivia night (Tuesdays at the Tosa location) or just enjoying the wide selection of classic Irish pub fare and more, Mo’s Irish Pub has you covered. We recommend the lunch combo of a half of Mo’s Reuben Sandwich with a cup of chicken dumpling soup. The slow-cooked corned beef with sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese on grilled marble rye is nothing short of heavenly and pairs well with the soup. It’s also worth checking out the onion rings, which are so big that you could fit them around your hand like a bangle. (J.F.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 


Mulligans Irish Pub & Grill

8933 S. 27th St.

The hybrid Irish pub and sports bar in Franklin, boasts 16 taps mixing craft beer, macro mainstays and the usual Irish suspects—Guinness, Harp, Magners, and Smithwick’s. The menu is wide-ranging, from a savory Jameson whiskey glazed salmon to Irish classics like shepherd’s pie and bangers & mash served with a killer Guinness-based gravy to pub pizzas. Their house-made corned beef pops up on several dishes, like a classic corned beef sandwich. The adventurous should seek out the Reuben pizza. (F.K.R.C.) $-$$.

CC. FB. OD. FF. RS. GF. Handicap access. 304-0300


O’Donoghue’s Irish Pub

13225 Watertown Plank Road

O’Donoghue’s has an excellent bar menu, some of it with Irish roots. Of course, you’ll find a sandwich stacked high with tender chunks of corned beef on marbled rye, anchoring a brimming basket of French fries with a pickle spear and a dish of good coleslaw. The burgers are tasty and prepared to order. The Irish chips are baked to golden brown and accompanied by a mild-tasting dip. Not sure if breaded pickles or battered mushrooms are considered an Irish specialty, but they are a unique addition to the appetizer menu. Wisconsin is well-represented by a Friday fish fry. (D.L.) OD. FB. FF. Handicap access. 262-641-2730


O’Lydia’s Bar & Grill

338 S. First St.

The structure was built in the late 19th century as a Pabst tavern, but these days there are 16 tap beers, including a wide array of micro brews from local breweries, as well as a full bar and tasty bloody mary with piquant garnishes. Pub fare is hearty and affordable. The Irish nachos are a good choice for gluten-free diners and the sliders (burger, Irish beef and meatloaf varieties) are deservedly popular, as is the shepherd’s pie. (S.M.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. FF. SB. Handicap access. 271-7546


Trinity Three Irish Pubs

125 E. Juneau Ave.

Made up of three different bars, Trinity is the perfect place to come for lunch and dinner. Each pub offers a different vibe: a cozy bar, a dining area and a space for live music. Also enjoy the lively and gorgeous outdoor patio. Come in the day to enjoy a delicious variety of plates and specialties such as their shepherd’s pie. Stop by in the evening for the perfect place to celebrate and enjoy a night out. (A.V.) $$. CC. LT. FF. SB. FB. OD. Handicap access. 278-7033


ITALIAN


Balistreri’s Bluemound Inn 

6501 W. Bluemound Road

It’s a hit on the West Side, seldom less than crowded during peak hours, and the formula for its success is simple: great pizza, an array of Italian and Sicilian specialties, plus steak and fish. Come in a suit, come in a baseball cap on your way to Miller Park or come as you are. (D.L.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. FF. LT. Handicap access. 258-9881


Barbiere’s Italian Inn 

5844 W. Bluemound Road, 453-3800

1021 Milwaukee Ave., 764-1234

Barbiere’s dimly lit interior looks and feels vintage and its menu offers home-style Italian comfort food. Barbiere’s classic pizzas (available in many sizes) feature mildly spiced sauce, quality mozzarella cheese and crispy, medium-thick crust and can be customized with additional toppings, such as homemade Italian sausage, fresh sliced tomatoes, pepperoncini, green olives, minced garlic and anchovies. (E.P.) $-$$. FB. RS. Handicap access. 


Bella Italiana

1721 W. Canal St.

At Potawatomi Casino’s Bella Italiana, everything is homemade, portions are generous, options are plentiful and prices are reasonable. Bella Italiana (in the former space of the Wild Earth Cucina Italiana) is, indeed, a beautiful and comfortable dining venue. Its menu is extensive—numerous options for appetizers, flatbreads, pastas, soups, sandwiches, salads, entrées, desserts and beverages. Of the latter, Bella Italiana provides imbibers with about 40 different red and white wines, plus—thanks largely to an attached full bar—many mixed drinks, cocktails, Italian sodas and beers. (J.J.) CC. FB. GF. RS. Handicap access. 847-7626


Café La Scala

631 E. Chicago St.

Café La Scala has been quietly turning out Italian favorites at budget-friendly prices for years. Although located inside the Italian Community Center, Café La Scala has its own street entrance. The restaurant is conveniently situated close to Downtown and provides a quiet spot for a quick breakfast, an unpretentious business lunch or a relaxed evening meal without having to contend with a crowd flocking to the newest, flashy place. (S.H.G.) $-$$ FB. OD. Handicap access. 223-2185


Calderone Club 

842 N. Old World Third St.

One of Downtown Milwaukee’s most reliable Italian dining options, Calderone Club serves thoughtfully plated Italian cuisine with a keen attention to details. The mixed greens in the house salad are crisp, the bread served before meals is warm and fragrant and the red sauce at the heart of most entrées is thin, silky and heavenly. Served on a simple crust that’s not too thick and not too thin, the pizzas let the fresh ingredients carry most of the flavor. Calderone Club’s full bar, large wine selection, snappy service and upscale but not too formal environment make this a smart date destination. (E.R.) $$$ CC. RS. FB. Handicap access. 273-3236


Carini’s La Conca D’Oro 

3468 N. Oakland Ave.

Last year, Carini’s sacrificed a few tables in the rear for a welcome new addition, a wood-fired pizza oven. The 12-inch pizzas are Neapolitan style; the crust is slightly crisp at the edges but soft as pastry inside, neither thin nor thick, with a touch of smoky flavor to the toppings. Other dinner entrées, most served with soup and salad as well as choice of potato or pasta, are Italian accented. Seafood is prevalent, but steak is represented along with a dozen pasta dishes. (D.L.) $$$. CC. OD. FB. LB. Handicap access. 963-9623


Caterina’s Ristorante

9104 W. Oklahoma Ave.

This is the Sicilian American menu of years ago with standards such as Sicilian steak and veal Marsala. Caterina’s remains popular for its attention to detail. The pounded veal is tenderized perfectly and the tenderloin is of top quality. The menu also includes fine chicken dishes, pastas, scampi and daily seafood specials. Dinners include antipasto, soup and salad. Lunches are considerably cheaper and of the same quality. (J.B.) $$$. CC. FF. RS. Handicap access. 541-4200


Centro Café

808 E. Center St.

A little storefront-turned-restaurant, Centro Café is a beacon of Italian food made with locally produced ingredients. You will feel immediate warmth as soon as you walk into the cozy space. The menu’s focus is pasta. Dishes range from traditional walnut basil pesto to modern spaghetti with chorizo and shrimp in a spicy tequila lime sauce. Gnudi ($16), ricotta dumplings similar to gnocchi, are homemade and not too heavy. The menu also includes a long list of starters and salads. Ten-inch pizzas can be ordered as shared appetizers or as a meal for one, and, unusually, are all made with gluten-free crusts. (L.M.) $-$$. CC. SB. GF. FB. 455-3751


Dino’s Riverwest

808 E. Chambers St.

Into its third generation as a tavern-restaurant, Dino’s offers an unpretentiously homey decor in which to dine on hearty Italian. The pesto gnocchi are firm pasta dumplings bathed in a pesto of arugula and basil baste joined by flecks of sun dried tomato to add a piquant tang; meat, such as Dino’s individual meatballs, can be added at an additional charge. Sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts such as tiramisu also beckon, but Dino’s Sunday brunch selections have me especially anticipating a return visit. The prospect of polenta and eggs with sides of sautéed kale and roasted mushrooms looks particularly enticing. (J.L.R.) $$. FB. FF. SB. 562-9171


Divino Wine & Dine

2315 N. Murray Ave.

This is the former Palermo Villa, an East Side institution for pizza. The new owners have kept the pizza recipes, but now their starter courses and entrées have been expanded in this Sicilian American menu. Starter courses vary from mozzarella marinara and fried eggplant to things like arancini (filled rice balls) and rapini (grilled broccoli rabe). The nice Palermo salad has conch and tender octopus. Most pasta and a few entrées are sold in smaller portions. This means that you can order both the beef tenderloin spedini and the fettuccine puttanesca without spending a fortune. (J.B.) $$. FB. LT. Handicap access. 212-2222


Giovanni’s

1033 N. Old World Third St.

The new Giovanni’s is still the fine-dining experience it once was for those on the hunt for top-notch Italian-Sicilian cuisine. True to the family’s Sicilian roots, however, the menu now fairly overflows with food from the sea. For example, they offer a fish of the day. The menu is arranged according to Italian dining traditions. The top portion offers Antipasti—lovely appetizers such as baked mozzarella and homemade fennel sausage. There are also four salads and a zuppa del giorno. On to the first course—lighter dishes such as wild mushrooms and cannelloni with veal. The more substantial second course offerings include seafood and chicken dishes as well as center-cut filet mignon. Finally, the Specialita Della Casa ushers in four veal dishes: cotoletta, piccata, scaloppini marsala and that great Italian standard, veal parmesan. Pork, beef and seafood items round out the remaining options. (J.J.) $$$$. FB. RS. GF. Handicap access. 291-5600


Il Mito Trattoria e Enoteca

6913 W. North Ave.

Il Mito combines a pleasant Italian-inspired setting with a menu to match. While not purely Italian, the flavors are still there. The establishment has much to offer, including small plates, thoughtful pastas and mighty tasty pizzas in casual yet upscale settings at prices that won’t break the bank. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. GF. SB. RS. Handicap access. 443-1414


Louise’s 

801 N. Jefferson, 273-4224

275 Regency Court, Brookfield, 262-784-4275 

Louise’s was probably the first restaurant of its kind in Milwaukee—the sort of place whose interior is so swanky that you’d never guess it was part of a national chain. The lively atmosphere and exposed kitchen combine with a menu featuring specialty pizzas, pastas and wonderful focaccia. (D.L.) $$. CC. RS. OD (Milwaukee location only). FB. SB. Handicap access.


Maggiano’s Little Italy

2500 N. Mayfair Road

It’s a national chain with a sense of style, a restaurant in Mayfair Mall that Frank, Dino and the boys would have enjoyed. Their parents would have loved the big portions of authentic Italian food. Think we’re kidding? In the tradition of family style cooking, Maggiano’s doesn’t skimp when it comes to sausage or spaghetti. The dark interior is reminiscent of Italian American restaurants of yesteryear. (D.L.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. RS. Handicap access. 978-1000


Nessun Dorma 

2778 N. Weil St.

Everybody likes a good deal at a restaurant, especially when the food proves as good as the prices. One such place is Nessun Dorma, named for a Giacomo Puccini aria (from Turnadot) and housed in a former corner tavern. The menu is focused on lighter fare with an Italian touch, including bruschetta, antipasti and panini. The daily specials are worth a trip to Riverwest. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. LT. 264-8466 


Onesto

221 N. Broadway

Milwaukee’s Third Ward has a new place for great Italian food. Onesto, which means “honest” in Italian, opened in 2014 and has been putting out honestly good food ever since. Fresh and tasty food is the name of the game here. House-made ricotta cheese, daily baked bread, fresh hand-made pasta and locally sourced foods are the backbone of Onesto. (S.H.G.) $$. RS. FB. OD. Handicap accessible. 308-1600


Ristorante Bartolotta 

7616 W. State St.

This is serious Italian served in a classic former Pabst Cream City brick tavern. The seating is European and cozy. Attentive servers, an elegant atmosphere and rustic Italian cuisine are the hallmarks of the menu. Prices may resemble Rome but at least the pastas can be ordered in half portions. Sidewalk dining is a delight in the heart of the Tosa Village. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 771-7910


Sala 

2611 E. Hampshire Ave.

Sala has long been popular college lunch spot or an unpretentious place for grabbing an Italian dinner on the way home. Sala has become known beyond the campus environs for its attractively served panini sandwiches, salads and brimming bowls of pasta, with or without the meatballs. There is an extensive wine list, including rarely seen vintages from Sicily and Sardinia; a beer list with domestic, craft brews and imports (Peroni, naturally); and a happy hour from 3-6 p.m. with custom cocktails such as the Milwaukee Mule, prepared from Rehorst vodka, ginger beer and lime. (D.L.) $$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 964-2611


Salotto Zarletti

1515 W. Mequon Road

The location is in a small luxury mall in a space formerly occupied by Laacke & Joys. It makes for a charming setting with wood floors, high ceilings, two levels and large windows. Salads are taken seriously here and flavors are on target. At lunch the heartier choices are pizzas and pastas. The dinner menu adds entrées and a few more starter courses. How good are the pizzas? These have a thin crust with a thicker rim and are cooked in a wood-fired oven. They are chewy to the bite, not especially crispy. (J.B.) $$-$$$. OD. FB. Handicap access. 262-241-5990


Tenuta’s Italian Restaurant

2995 S. Clement Ave. 

Tenuta’s traditional Southern Italian food is well prepared, as if made in a kitchen that hasn’t changed in a century. The presentation, however, is very contemporary. Quality starts with freshness, which brings not only the best flavors from the familiar ingredients but the richest colors as well. Emphasis is on pasta dishes and pizza. An extensive wine list is available. (D.L.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. SB. Handicap access. 431-1014


Zarletti 

741 N. Milwaukee St.

Zarletti is an Italian place that’s simply excellent. The panini served at lunch are the best. At dinner the pastas are compelling, but do try the dreamy (if pricey) ossobucco. It rarely gets any better. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 225-0000


JAMAICAN


Irie Palace

7506 W. Appleton Ave.

This unassuming place is a mecca for those in search of authentic Jamaican fare. The jerk is a work of art with the flavors of allspice and a hint of Scotch bonnet pepper. You will find curry goat, oxtails and maybe even cow foot along with curried chicken and shrimp. Call ahead to have the fish prepared to order. The décor is nothing fancy but comfortable, and the bar is amply stocked with Red Stripe beer. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. Handicap access. 461-8203


Uppa Yard

4925 W. Fond du Lac Ave.

A combination dinner of curried goat and oxtails with beans and rice makes a fine embarkation point, with tender meats running a gamut of spiciness with a generous portion of smoky-tasting grains and legumes that could be a meal unto themselves. Sides include steamed cabbage flecked with strands of red and green bell pepper, as well as fried-lengthwise cuts of plantain. Chicken is the menu’s most plentiful meat; curry and jerk seasoning for the fowl may be the best-known Jamaican preparations, but brown stew is worth a try as well. Tropical Rhythms juice drinks and kola champagne—like a cream soda with a hint of ginger beer bite—number among the tastier Jamaican ways to wash down Uppa fare. (J.L.R.) $-$$. 871-7138


JAPANESE


Benihana 

850 N. Plankinton Ave.

This nationwide chain offers Japanese tableside cooking by acrobatic chefs. Those not in the mood for a performance will find tempura appetizers and a sushi bar with modest prices. Steaks, from the raw sashimi appetizer to the tenderloins, are well-marbled and tender. Dinners are comprehensive, including everything from an appetizer to dessert. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 270-0890


Fujiyama 

2916 S. 108th St.

Diners aiming for a Benihana-like experience will find hibachi tables and the expected fare. Those aiming for the sushi bar will find a larger menu. The tempura is expertly prepared, the teriyaki is reliable and the beef negimaki is a treat. Aficionados of Japanese food know that the sushi, soup and seafood are authentic. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 755-1977


Fushinami Seafood & Sushi Buffet

2116 N. Farwell Ave.

For one price you get a seafood buffet and all the sushi you can eat. The sushi is freshly prepared to order. The setting is nice with tile floors, stonewalls and elegant furnishings. The sushi menu is much larger at dinner when sashimi is also offered. Friday and Saturday dinners charge a few dollars more as crab legs are added to the buffet. For the quality of the setting and the sushi the price can’t be beat. (J.B.) $$. CC. LB. RS. FB. Handicap access. 270-1918 


Ginza Japanese Restaurant

2727 N. Mayfair Road

Most of the menu can be described as traditional. Ginza offers the usual suspects you’d find at most sushi restaurants—maki (rolls), temaki (hand rolls), nigiri, sashimi and what seems to be an ever-expanding category of “Special Rolls,” including a daily preparation not listed on the menu. But there are some surprises. Hits include Yuzu Salmon ($8), sliced avocado layered under pieces of fatty salmon delicately coated with a miso-yuzu sauce. The yuzu (Japanese citrus) provides just the right amount of acidity to balance the richness of the fish and avocado. Also impressive was the a la carte nigiri and sashimi—a sushi purist’s must-haves. (K.L.L.) $-$$. Handicap access. 771-3333


Izumi’s 

2150 N. Prospect Ave.

For those who like a little showmanship with their dinner, take a seat at the sushi bar. You can watch the skilled chefs at work and ask questions about what is being made. It can be very informative and you may end up choosing something you haven’t tried before based on their artistry. For a more private dining experience, choose one of the tables in the dining room. Service is friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. Not a fan of raw fish? No worries; there is a lot more to Japanese food than that. Try Izumi’s tempura dishes. (S.H.G.) $$-$$$ CC. RS (6+). FB. LB. Handicap access. 271-5278


Japanica 

4918 S. 74th St. 

Greenfield’s spacious and gracefully ornamented Japanica makes for an authentic ethnic dining experience and a truly memorable outing. Enjoy a wide variety of sushi, rice and noodle dishes or the establishment’s signature hibachi, served straight off the grill mere inches away. This menu offers dinner and a show like nothing else; deft chopping and knife tossing are the norm, but your chef might just offer to squirt sake directly into your mouth as well! All hibachi entrées are served with generous appetizers of soup, salad, fried rice and shrimp. You may count on going home stuffed, satisfied and even astounded. (S.M.) $$-$$$. CC. RS. FB. Handicap access. 281-9868


Kanpai

408 E. Chicago St.

The elaborate wood sushi bar is an attraction in itself. So is the sushi. The signature rolls are elaborate presentations. Try the belly of hamachi or yellowtail. This is a sister restaurant to Brookfield’s Wasabi and the menu follows the Japanese-fusion theme, although it is not identical and includes innovative small plates. The Wagyu jalapeño poppers filled with Wagyu beef, cheddar and cream cheeses, wasabi aioli and teriyaki sauce is a good starter. Expect to be frequently surprised. (J.B.) $$$. CC. RS. FB. Handicap access. 220-1155


Kawa Japanese Restaurant

325 W. Silver Spring Drive

Kawa can seat about 40 patrons tops, but features a menu of Japanese kitchen and sushi bar items much larger in size and variety than one would think such a cozy restaurant could support. Appetizers offer good value, including abbreviated versions of entrée-sized portions found elsewhere on the menu. Special rolls are undoubtedly another highlight; certain combinations are unique and set Kawa apart from other sushi restaurants. (K.L.L.) $$. Handicap access. 249-5750


Kiku Japanese Cuisine

202 W. Wisconsin Ave.

The focus at Kiku is sushi with nearly eight different nigiri and makis to choose from. Entrées include teriyaki, tempura, seafood and noodles. Appetizers include items like grilled hamachi kama and a jellyfish salad. The sushi is always fresh and of good quality. A sure bet is the tempura, especially the jumbo shrimp in a feather-light batter. The setting is casual with many private booths. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. Handicap access. 270-1988


Kyoto

7453 W. Layton Ave.

Kyoto offers good Japanese food and has expanded over the years to include items from China and Thailand. The tempura rarely gets better, especially the shrimp. Lunch specials offer exceptional value on rolls, bento boxes, chef specials and noodles. (J.B.) $$. CC. RS. Handicap access. 325-1000

 

Meiji Cuisine

2503 Plaza Court, Waukesha

Meiji is actually two restaurants in one. The first is Japanese and the second Sichuan Chinese. The Japanese has the usual sushi, tempura and some hibachi tables for the Benihana-type experience. But the real attraction is the Sichuan fare. Items are prepared with uncommon authenticity from the thin slices of barely cooked pork belly to more familiar items like Chongqing chili beef. The menu is extensive and about half of the dishes are mild in spicing, but dare to be different and order that fish fillet with pickled vegetable soup. (J.B.) $-$$$. FB. CC. Handicap access. 262-717-9858


Sake Tumi

714 N. Milwaukee St.

Situated within Milwaukee Street’s thriving scene of bars and restaurants, Sake Tumi’s centerpiece is a long sushi bar that dominates the dining area. Sake Tumi’s original menu was a pioneer in Asian fusion, offering a few Korean items along with Japanese cuisine. That tradition continues, as today’s menu expands its options for Korean food and adds some Chinese dishes as well. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 224-7253

 

Screaming Tuna

106 W. Seeboth St.

The urban riverside setting is spectacular with floor-to-ceiling windows. All tables have fine views. The menu originally aimed at Asian fusion but is now more comfortably Japanese. Sushi rules, though there are a few dinner entrées. The outdoor terrace in warmer weather is a delight, especially in late evening when the city lights up. (J.B.) $$-$$$$. CC. OD. FB. RS. Handicap access. 763-1637

 

Wasabi Sushi & Sake Lounge

15455 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield 

The menu and setting set Wasabi apart among suburban restaurants. It’s very Japanese and luxuriant. The menu offers occasional Asian fusion surprises and entrées feature a bit of everything. The star here is the special maki sushi rolls, which are wildly creative and extravagant. (J.B.) $-$$$. RS. Handicap access. 262-780-0011


JEWISH/KOSHER


Benji’s Deli & Restaurant 

4156 N. Oakland Ave., 332-7777

8683 N. Port Washington Road, 228-5130

While Benji’s might serve less kishka and gefilte fish than they did a generation ago, the menu is still heavy on the Jewish favorites. In addition to chili and mushroom barley soups, they offer a chicken broth soup with your choice of matzo ball, kreplach, or kasha. They also serve both beet and cabbage borscht. The cabbage borscht, with a creamy and sweet tomato base, was a nice warm-up on a near-autumn day. The “Benji’s Favorites” include fried matzo, potato pancakes, and their signature Chicken in the Pot: a half-chicken served in homemade chicken broth with carrots, noodles and a matzo ball. Benji’s all-day breakfast includes the standards, as well as their very popular Hoppel-Poppel: scrambled eggs with potatoes and fried salami, as well as bagels and lox. (M.P.) $-$$. CC. NA. 


Jake’s Deli 

1634 W. North Ave., 562-1272

275 W. Wisconsin Ave., Grand Avenue Mall, 882-7090

5300 S. 76th St., Southridge Mall, 423-6750

Jake’s Deli is an old-school Jewish delicatessen known for its corned beef, Reubens and pastrami. The meat is hand-carved, cooked in its own juices, piled high on pretzel rolls and embellished with zesty dressings. Jake’s also carries Polish sausage, hot dogs, matzo ball soup, potato salad, kraut and a few other items. This no-frills, always-busy joint has that mid-20th-century urban vibe. Jake’s closes early, serving mostly to the lunch crowd. (D.S.) $. CC. NA. Handicap access. 


The Rubenstein Family Kosher Oasis

1414 N. Prospect Ave.

The Rubenstein Family Kosher Oasis, located off the lobby of the Jewish Home and Care Center, is open to the public. While bagels and cream cheese are on hand, most of the items are contemporary American with a rabbinical imprimatur. Think a quesadilla filled with cheese and a thick layer of tuna salad or seafood rolls made with buttered hot dog buns. Though only open from late morning to early afternoon on most days, the Kosher Oasis serves a Wednesday evening fish fry of tender white filets in dark breading (made with shards of various kinds of torn bread) with French fries, a slightly creamy coleslaw and marbled rye bread. (J.L.R.) $. CC. FF. SB. Handicap access. 277-8813


KOREAN

 

Seoul Korean Restaurant

2178 N. Prospect Ave.

This is one of the only area restaurant devoted to Korean food. All of the basics are here, such as beef bulgogi, kalbi and spicy grilled pork. The house specialties are large enough to serve a few diners and are heated with a butane burner at the table. (J.B.) $. CC. Handicap access. 289-8208

 

Stone Bowl Grill

1958 N. Farwell Ave.

The name refers to the bibimbop served steaming hot in a stone bowl. The menu is pure Korean and a delight from grilled fare like bulgogi to the wang mandoo, the perfect starter. The kimchi is carefully seasoned, not overpowering. Stone Bowl offers caring service in a beautiful setting. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 220-9111

 

LAOTIAN


Bamboo

3427 W. National Ave.

This Laotian-Thai restaurant offers that complex and spicy Laotian salad, larb. The mixture of beef, pork or chicken minced with roasted rice powder is mixed with green onion, cilantro, mint and chili peppers. Some of the stickiest rice in the city, Napa basil, iceberg lettuce and white cabbage are served on the side. Unique to the neighborhood, and perhaps all of Milwaukee, are the appetizers of four small quails and beef jerky and a Thai frog legs entree with string beans, basil and lime leaf paste. (J.L.R.) $. 316-9023


Vientiane Noodle Shop 

3422 W. National Ave.

Serving traditional Laotian fare (along with other Southeast Asian options), Vientiane’s food is generously portioned and affordably priced. The menu features a reasonable selection of appetizers, pan-fried noodle and rice dishes, such as fresh spring rolls, mee krob (crispy yellow noodles topped with stir fry), and sae goong (spicy shrimp). Other Laotian dishes include larp, a traditional Laotian salad, joom seen (hot pot) and the phan khao poun wrap. Prepared for two or four people, the joom seen contains beef, clear noodles, seafood, eggs, green onions, mushrooms and napa cabbage and is accompanied by beef broth and a side of peanut sauce, while the phan khao poun wrap is large enough for two people, requires self-assembly and features vermicelli noodles, beef, sweet and sour sauce and a platter of vegetables. (E.P.) $. 672-8440


LATIN AMERICAN

 

Agave Southwest Bar & Grill

800 N. Plankinton Ave.

Agave is a pleasant surprise offering real Southwestern rustic cooking and shows great diversity on their menu. It still serves wonderful Mexican fare, but has expanded to the traditional meals of cowboys, Native Americans or Spanish settlers in the Southwest with lots of seafood and big cuts of meat to choose from. They even offer a selection of pasta, not Southwestern at all, but it certainly rounds out a menu that has something for everyone. (A.M.) $$. Handicap access. 249-5973


Antigua Mexican and Latin Restaurant

5823 W. Burnham St.

Latin American, Mexican and Spanish staples make up Antigua’s large menu. You will find pupusas from El Salvador, empanadas from Argentina, lomo saltado from Peru and that Spanish classic, paella. Though the menu covers a lot of territory the preparations are authentic and everything is worth a try. Bring out the sangria. (E.R.) $$$. CC. FB. RS. SB. Handicap access. 321-5775


C-Viche

2165 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

C-Viche serves Peruvian, Argentinian, Mexican and Ecuadorian food. Vegetarians will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the grilled veggie panini. There are several appetizers to choose from, but the most outstanding are the yucca frites. The namesake civiche is beautifully plated. Served with corn two ways—a pile of choclo, or hard boiled kernels off a huge Peruvian corn stalk, and a handful of canche, fried kernels reminiscent of corn nuts—atop a boiled-then-cooled sweet potato which is itself atop a leaf of romaine lettuce, the civiche features an attractively assembled mound of flounder covered in ahi amarillo, a spicy and brightly acidic sauce. (F.K.R.C.) FB. $$. 800-7329

 

El Salvador Restaurant

2316 S. Sixth St.

A classic Salvadoran item is pupusas, corn cakes with a choice of fillings that are grilled. Delicious! Salpicon is seasoned minced beef that is served at room temperature with excellent homemade tortillas. Yuca con chicharron is chunks of pork meat that have been fried to a crisp served over yucca, a root tuber much like a potato. (J.B.) $. CC. 645-1768


La Caribena

1704 S. Pearl St.

The menu of Puerto Rican, Columbian and Dominican food is served in an atmosphere resembling a Central American village reimagined as a nightclub. Latin rhythms fill the air, but the food is even more enticing than the music. Beef, chicken pork, shrimp and fish can had at most any type of ethnic eatery, but goat? The chivo guisado is especially inviting. The Dominican stew features bone-in morsels of goat meat, some cut thin as fine brisket, simmering in their own slightly thickened, mildly spiced juices. Deliciously complementing the veggie-free concoction is a generous side of steamed cassava possessing a subtle, distinct flavor somewhere between white potato and turnip. (J.L.R.) $. 239-8788


MEXICAN

Al Pastor

6200 W. Burnham St.

Takeout is the main focus, with only a few small tables and counter seats in the dining room. The specialty is dishes from Mexico City, including alambre, a plate made with chopped steak, bacon, pork chops, chorizo, grilled vegetables and pineapple, all topped with melted cheese and served with tortillas. Tacos, tortas, enchiladas and burritos are also available, with meat choices of asada, chicken, chorizo, ground beef, lengua and the restaurant’s namesake, pork al pastor. (L.M.) $. 210-5714


Bel Air Cantina

1935 N. Water St., 226-2245

6817 North Ave., 988-8533

2625 N. Downer Ave., 964-1190

410 West Town Square Way, Oak Creek, 215-7995

The Bel Air Cantina is quite a place to be seen with its curved roof and large banks of windows. It turns nearly open-air on warmer days. The menu is that of a Mexican taqueria, focused on tacos, tostadas and burritos. They are sold singly, which allows for variety. Among the best are pork carnitas, carne asada and tilapia Baja style. The food has authentic Mexican touches with a bit of California. Stop in and try out the Korean beef tacos. (J.B.) $. CC. OD. Handicap access. 


Botanas Restaurant 

816 S. Fifth St.

Those who like milder Mexican cooking but still want variety will enjoy Botanas. Chicken enchiladas and pork tamales are always good, and the tortilla soup is comforting. Camarónes ala Diabla have an abundance of shrimp, while the Chiles Españoles are a delightful vegetarian dish in short supply at most Mexican restaurants. (J.B.) $$. CC. RS. FB. OD. Handicap access. 672-3755


Botanas II

1421 E. Howard Ave.

Botanas II boasts a spacious bar, a great place to watch a game while enjoying a delicious margarita or any of more than a dozen tequilas. Owner Martha Navejar brought the same recipes and menu from the original Botanas. Service is friendly, the food is flavorful and authentic and the prices are a good value for the portions. (A.M.) $$. OD. FB. Handicap access. 489-0529


Buena Vista Restaurant & Bar

3447 W. Forest Home Ave.

A cozy little building across from Jackson Park has housed a string of restaurants over the years, but Buena Vista Restaurant and Bar has staying power. It’s the sister restaurant of the popular Taqueria Buenavista and food truck and the first full-service restaurant of the bunch. It’s also the only one to have a full-service bar, turning this into a place where you want to linger with friends, instead of just grabbing a quick bite. (L.M.) $-$$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 383-3040


Café Corazón

3129 N. Bremen St., 810-3941

2394 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 544-2774 

Corazon means heart, and that word describes the food, service and atmosphere at both Café Corazon locations. All the food is fresh and they are proud to work with many local farmers. And it’s not Milwaukee restaurant Mexican food—don’t expect to have chips and salsa delivered to your table once you sit down, but feel free to order them and guacamole as a starter. They have a spicy green sauce with just the right amount of heat and the traditional salsa. The menu offers something for everyone. Besides more traditional dishes they offer a burger, stuffed pepper and bourbon salmon and many vegan options with Simply Soyman’s herbed tofu and soy chorizo. (A.M.) $-$$. CC. SB. 


Café El Sol 

1028 S. Ninth St.

Located deep inside the United Community Center, El Sol’s visibility is relatively low, even though it has its own plainly marked entrance. But anyone who loves Mexican and Puerto Rican food shouldn’t overlook it. El Sol is notable for its daily Puerto Rican specials, but also serves up a fine selection of enchiladas, tacos, guacamole and tostadas. Try a breakfast of huevos rancheros or good ol’ Yankee eggs, toast and bacon. The Friday fish fry buffet features live Latin music. (D.L.) $. CC. FF. RS. 384-3100 ext. 275


Casa Noble

3710 W. Lincoln Ave.

Casa Noble features affordable takes on classic Mexican dishes and a welcoming atmosphere. They serve breakfast all day as well as excellent combination dinners featuring an enchilada, taco, tostada, rice, beans and guacamole. Tacos are served American style (with cheese and lettuce) on a corn tortilla. The tostada is huge: a pile of beans, meat, lettuce, queso fresco and tomatoes. Cheese enchiladas are served with a roasty roja sauce and loads of gooey cheese. (F.K.R.C.) $. 383-4666


Chipotle Mexican Grill 

600 E. Ogden Ave. 223-4710

3232 S. 27th St., 389-1380

15375 Bluemound Road, Brookfield, 262-796-0463

2711 N. Mayfair Road, 258-6649

Chipotle’s mission is to change the direction of America’s favorite ethnic food and set an example for the food service industry. The menu retains the tastiness of familiar Mexican American dishes while jettisoning anything unhealthy. The meat and dairy products come from animals that roam freely. Most everything is made from fresh ingredients, down to the lime in the margaritas. Guacamole is prepared several times daily and the fresh-baked chips are among the best anywhere. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. 


Cielito Lindo

739 S. Second St. 

The dining room is a colorful Mexican fantasy with tropical Mexican murals on orange walls and a ceiling with a vivid blue sky and a giant eagle. Nobody will ever fall asleep in this room! The menu includes reasonably priced Mexican standards with decent chiles rellenos. Items with salsa verde and salsa rojo are also worth a try. There are two dining areas, both with bars, and a patio. Though there are few items that are unique here, the cooking is sound and the prices reasonable. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 649-0401


El Beso Mexican Restaurante & Cantina

5030 S. 74th St. 

Step inside El Beso Mexican Restaurant in Greenfield and you will almost feel as if you’ve been transported to Old Mexico. The ambiance at this place is hard to beat. From the soaring ceiling in the courtyard inspired lobby to the brightly colored walls, beautiful artwork and memorabilia displayed throughout the restaurant, diners will feel cheerful shortly after arriving —even before they’ve had a margarita. It’s not just about the ambiance though. El Beso is owned and operated by the same family behind other Milwaukee area restaurants, El Fuego and Mad Rooster, so they’ve got some serious cooking chops to back up the delicious food they serve. (S.H.G.) $$. CC. GF. OD. Handicap access. 817-0362


El Canaveral

2501 W. Greenfield Ave.

El Canaveral is set in a vintage Schlitz corner tavern. The interior is appealing with a front bar with beer tappers and a rear dining room with colorful Mexican decorations. A landscaped dining terrace is in the rear. The menu offers unpretentious Mexican fare with a nice Mexican steak, shrimp in several preparations and a large parillada. Items of note are the codorniz (a Cornish game hen with a mild chili paste), the birria made with lamb and the delicious cactus paddle salad. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 671-7118


El Fuego Mexican Restaurant

909 W. Layton Ave.

El Fuego is a jumbo-sized Mexican establishment, but the amenities are nice with an inviting bar plus an outdoor patio complete with palm trees and a cascading waterfall. The food ranges from above average to quite good. Guacamole is made on the spot and the shrimp cocktails are large and a bit spicy. Do try the enchiladas de mole. This kitchen has an excellent recipe for this chocolate-based sauce. Prices are affordable, except for the premium tequilas, of course. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 455-3534


El Local

1801 S. 11th St.

El Local’s reputation rises from authentic Mexican tacos and other simple items, including exceptional tacos al pastor and carnitas. The birria, a goat meat soup, is as hearty as a stew. Seafood varies from the jumbo Mexican cocktails to a mixed seafood soup and whole red snappers in a classic preparation. (J.B.) $-$$. Handicap access. 672-6746


El Senorial 

1901 S. 31st St.

The menu includes standard Mexican fare, but the selection is broad, the quality consistent and seafood dishes abundant. Try chorizo tacos with a spicy punch or a big platter of shrimp fajitas. The house specialty is parillada, a tabletop grill with an assortment of meats. Start the meal with a good ceviche and finish with vanilla flan. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 385-9506


Fat Valdy’s

5108 W. Bluemound Road

The festive sports bar and Mexican restaurant makes the most of its proximity to Miller Park. Valdy’s offers a selection of hearty sandwiches, homemade pizzas, filling appetizers and heaping plates of Mexican American staples like chimichangas, quesadillas and enchiladas. With its free shuttle and generous drink specials, Valdy’s invites budget-minded Brewers fans to head to the stadium on a full stomach. (L.M.) $$. CC. FB. OD. 443-0287


Fiesta Garibaldi 

821 W. Lincoln Ave. 

This small, colorfully adorned Mexican restaurant across the street from Kosciuszko Park in the Lincoln Village prides itself on its seafood, with specialties including paella, calamari, oysters, ceviches and caldo de mariscos (a seafood soup). Most entrées are served with heaps of rice and beans on plates that look every bit as colorful and festive as the restaurant itself. (E.R.) $$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap Access. 645-4552


Habanero’s Mexican Kitchen

869 N. Mayfair Road, 607-9025

7700 W. Layton Ave., 282-5000

With hearty greetings of “Amigos!” the Habanero’s servers gladly bring second baskets of their tasty complimentary chips and are always keen on fast service from a sprawling menu encompassing generous portions of familiar Mexican dishes. There are even vegetarian options and not all items are dialed down spicewise. Lovers of tequila will find abundant variety along with a lengthy margarita list. (D.L.) $$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 


Jalapeño Loco 

5067 S. Howell Ave. 

Jalapeño Loco has a menu for everyone. If steak tacos and chicken enchiladas are your thing, you’ll be just as satisfied as the person who orders chiles en nogada or the mole Oaxaqueno. Try the pork ribs in salsa verde, a tart sauce with a spicy kick. The setting is casual with a large fireplace and a bar serving fine gold margaritas. Seasonal specials make this one of the most distinctive local Mexican restaurants. (J.B.) $$. CC. OD. FB. Handicap access. 483-8300


José’s Blue Sombrero

8617 N. Port Washington Road, 351-9280

20371 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield, 262-432-6667

6430 Washington Ave., Racine, 262-886-5600

Yes, the usual suspects are present at Jose’s Blue Sombrero—those items with which we’ve come to associate or define Mexican food (in the U.S.) such as burritos, enchiladas and tostadas. But look past the category names alone and you’ll find fresh renditions of old favorites as well as authentic Mexican classics not commonly found here. (K.L.L.) $$. GF


La Canoa

1520 W. Lincoln Ave.

Mexican seafood is the specialty; the dining room is a riot of color with chairs carved with images of every sea creature imaginable. The bar resembles the hull of a boat. La Canoa’s menu has everything from oysters to langostinos, whole red snappers and even frog legs. The seafood cocktails are huge and there are many soup options. Portions tend to be generous and freebies include fish ceviche plus an empanada. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 645-1140


La Fuente 

625 S. Fifth St., 271-8595

9155 W. Bluemound Road, 771-9900 

2423 Kossow Road, Waukesha, 262-717-9400

Tacos, burritos and enchiladas rule the menu here. Modest prices always draw a crowd. The menu offers a decent shrimp soup and Camarón a la Diabla for those who like their food very fiery. This is a fun spot for cerveza-swigging groups. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. LT. Handicap access.


La Salsa

119 E. Oklahoma Ave.

A colorfully painted and decorated nest of rooms, La Salsa covers the timeline from breakfast through dinner. The menu begins with a half dozen egg dishes and rises from there to explore all the Mexican-American staples in beef, chicken and pork. Five combo plates offer easy ways to sample the dishes. A few unusual items are available, including beef tongue and pork smothered in green salsa. (D.L.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 483-0522


Lala’s Place

3470 E. Layton Ave.

Cudahy is an unlikely spot for a Mexican restaurant but this former diner does the trick. Alicia “Lala” Guerra is the owner and manages to visit every table when she is here. The kitchen makes a fine chicken mole and decent pork al pastor. The décor is modest but this is a friendly place with even friendlier prices. (J.B.) $. CC. Handicap access. 744-4417


Los Paisa

600 W. Brown Deer Road

Los Paisa takes the idea of home-style Mexican food fairly literally. The building it operates in is, after all, a home. If not for the neon open signs in the window, you might think you entered someone’s home for lunch or dinner. The menu is traditional: fajitas, enchiladas and tacos come with seasoned rice and refried beans. Portions are large. Los Paisa offers a variety of proteins to customize your order, including steak, chicken, ground beef, carnitas, chili verde pork or chunky beef, plus a dozen seafood and vegetarian menu items. (K.L.L.) 540-2125


Matador Taco + Tequila Bar

1110 N. Old World Third St.

Matador is a combination taco shop, sports bar and nightclub. The name is a nod to the Bucks’ rival Chicago Bulls and how a matador dominates the bull—hopefully. During the day, it will operate as a full service Mexican restaurant, serving taco truck-style tacos and sides like tableside guacamole. Large TVs will show sports of all kinds. At night, DJs and live music transform the space into a casual dance club on the weekends. (L.M.) $-$$. FB. 225-0304


Mr. Señor

2335 N. Murray Ave.

Mr. Señor is take-out window just north of the six-way intersection of Cramer, Farwell, and North. (If you pass the sign with “You just passed good Mexican food” scrawled on it, well, you just passed good Mexican food). With everything on the menu made from scratch from generations-old recipes, Mr. Señor’s reflects and respects the tradition from whence it came with a menu consisting of nachos, tacos, burritos, and a “Plate of Food” that consists of the customer’s choice of meat (ground beef, chicken, pork, steak, or house-made chorizo), rice, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, pico de gallo, sour cream and a tortilla. (F.K.R.C.) $-$$. Handicap access. 550-TACO


Quiote

5814 W. Bluemound Road

If you remember the fine Mexican menu at the former Oaxaca Grill, then you’ll enjoy Quiote, which has the same chef-owner. This means intense moles made onsite, tasty shrimp tacos and chiles rellenos that simply are the best. Quiote is a small place with just five tables. Take a chance on getting a seat and be rewarded with some fine Mexican fare. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. RS. 698-2708


Restaurante Juquilita

2344 S. 27th St.

The menu is fairly expansive, featuring everything from tacos and enchiladas to traditional Mexican seafood dishes and hearty soups. To start, consider one of Restaurant Juquilita’s ceviches or a plate of oyster charros or oyster gratin. For entrees, there are dozens of options including garlic snapper, tamales, carne asada and camarones a la tinga. Served with rice, beans and potato salad, the camarones a la tinga are tender and moderately seasoned with onion and pepper. Robust soups are also available from the Seven Seas Soup and shrimp and rice, to fish soup and a large, enjoyable bowl of posole. (E.P.) $-$$. CC. RS. 226-6967


Riviera Maya 

2258 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

With its sleek bar and Mayan-style murals, Riviera Maya brings contemporary casual elegance to Mexican dining. The menu is also unique, with Oaxacan items, sandwiches and moles along with more familiar Mexican dishes. Entrées include a cup of the excellent sopa de tortilla, an inspired version of a traditional Mexican soup. (D.L.) $$. CC. FB. SB. Handicap access. 294-4848


Señor Sol 

8129 W. Greenfield Ave.

Señor Sol serves authentic Mexican cuisine with decently sized portions. Enjoy all the regular Mexican restaurant staples, like fresh homemade guacamole, complimentary chips and salsa, nachos, combos, enchiladas, burritos and tostadas—Señor Sol is known to be tastily above the average fare. Wash all this down with fresh margaritas, horchata and Corona. (D.S. and J.B.) $-$$. CC. OD. Handicap access. 456-9955


Taqueria El Cabrito

1100 S. 11th St.

The Cabrito name has been popularized around town by two vans serving lunch tacos. The mothership restaurant offers a wider range of spicy, authentic food including tacos, burritos and tostadas. A wide variety of meats are used but there are also vegetarian options. The tacos al pastor is among the best in Milwaukee. (J.B.) $. CC. 385-9000


Tres Hermanos

1332 W. Lincoln Ave.

One of Milwaukee’s enduring Mexican restaurants, Tres Hermanos is family owned and operated. Modestly sized and brightly decorated, a mural-covered wall separates the comfortable dining area from the slightly nosier full bar. The swordfish replicas suspended from the center of the ceiling are a seemingly unintentional representation of the great role of seafood on Tres Hermanos’ traditional menu. (E.P.) $-$$. FB. 384-9050


Tu Casa 

3710 W. Lincoln Ave.

Formerly Casa Noble, Tu Casa is a welcome addition to Milwaukee’s roster of Mexican restaurants. Featuring affordable takes on classic Mexican dishes and a welcoming atmosphere, it’s definitely worth a visit. They serve breakfast all day, menudo on weekends and excellent combo plates at all times. Once food stops being served at 10 p.m., they frequently offer DJs and clear space for a dance floor. (F.K.R.C.) $. FB. Handicap access. 383-4666


Villa’s Restaurant

2522 W. Greenfield Ave.

This small eatery has a big menu and even larger servings, plus some interesting Oaxacan specialties. The only mole is a mole negro, delicious with chicken or pork. The gorditas are delicious with handmade corn cakes and several choices of filling. More unusual is the tlayuda, a folded tortilla the size of a small pizza with abundant filling. While the décor is basic, the quantity and quality of the food more than compensate. Simple margaritas are available as are a few Mexican beers. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. Handicap access. 672-1943


MIDDLE EASTERN


Baba Ghanouj

1888 N. Humboldt Ave.

The East Side corner spot that once housed Greek Village has become Baba Ghanouj. Much has remained, including gyros, Greek salads and fries, a bright airy ambience and friendly service. Of course, the cuisines of the Eastern Mediterranean draw from common roots. Baba G’s menu includes such tasty favorites as chicken and beef shish-kabob, tabbouleh and humus. A vegetarian’s delight, Baba G serves Greek salad, falafel, a veggie platter and unusual specialties such as Egyptian koshari made with rice, noodles, lentils and chickpeas. Popular for takeouts, Baba Ghanouj has tables for dining in. (D.L.) $-$$. OD. Handicap access. 273-1888


Casablanca 

728 E. Brady St.

Casablanca just kept growing ever since they moved to Milwaukee’s East Side. A few years ago the already attractively designed restaurant added a colonnaded upper level with a veranda. On a more subtle level, they continue to enhance their already outstanding lunch buffet with new delights. Old favorites remain, allowing diners to sample menu items including spinach pies stuffed with sharp feta cheese, crunchy falafel balls, tabbouleh, humus, babaganouj and a selection of desserts. The weekday buffet is vegetarian (you can order meat with an upcharge) but the Sunday version includes succulent lamb, chicken and more. (D.L.) $$. CC. FB. LB. OD. RS. SB. Handicap access. 271-6000


Kabob Hub

2713 N. Bremen St.

The mostly to-go Middle Eastern place shares a kitchen with the neighboring Shi Chai Restaurant & Hookah Lounge. Open until 2 or 3 a.m. each night, it dutifully checks all the boxes for good late-night dining: It’s fast and reasonable, with a menu big enough to accommodate the tastes and dietary restrictions of nearly anyone. Falafel and Schwarma wraps are the default orders here; each is generously packed with fresh vegetables. For the truly hungry there are dinner plates of lemon chicken and lamb shank (served with humus and pita as well as fries or rice), but for those just looking to line their stomach with some quick drunk food the menu also offers a selection of burgers, nachos and wings. (E.R.) $. 702-1420


Sababa

391 E. State St.

By day, Sababa is a café serving breakfast and lunch for the Downtown office crowd, but in the evening it takes on another character. The area away from the office atrium has a bar and a small lounge. And the menu offers Middle Eastern mezza, or small plates. It is appealing lighter fare with many items for the vegetarian. Meat eaters will enjoy kifta sliders and the beef tenderloin shawarma wrap. This is a delightful bar-lounge in a very unlikely location. (J.B.) $-$$. FB. CC. OD. Handicap access. 224-9507


Shahrazad 

2847 N. Oakland Ave.

Arabian nights (and lunches) are a pleasure to behold at this popular East Side spot for Middle Eastern cuisine. Vegetarians delight in the many meat-free appetizers; fans of chargrilled lamb, chicken and beef will find kebob plates filled past the brim. The dinner menu also offers Persian specialties, mainly kabobs. Freshly baked desserts include the highly recommended warbat, an Arabic cheese custard-filled pastry. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 964-5475


Shawarma House

2921 N. Oakland Ave., 967-1000

17385 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield, 262-938-9300

The all-in platter makes for a generous introduction to many of Shawarma House’s best dishes. Small hills of aromatically spiced beef and chicken shawarma top tender basmati rice with a touch of saffron. To the side lies a mildly garlicky humus or saltier babaganouj with falafel. Jerusalem salad is given a fibrous, crunchy base with the unusual additions of red cabbage. For dipping and topping, a warm pita rounds out a filling meal. Vegetarians will enjoy the go green plate with an assortment of salads and falafel. Sandwiches in pitas and wraps and a novel Arabic-style cheeseburger on a bun are also available. (J.L.R.) $-$$. 


MONGOLIAN


Bd’s Mongolian Grill

598 W. Northshore Drive, Bayshore Town Center

The chain (with only one location in Wisconsin) has the distinction of being the first U.S.-based restaurant to open a franchise in Mongolia. The hook is the supreme customizability of the “create your own stir-fry” option. The restaurant caters to special dietary needs with lots of zero-cal sodas, clearly labeled vegetarian and gluten-free sauces and an “allergy zone” grill where your food can be cooked in its own wok. (S.M.) FB. 906-0300


Genghis Khan 

725 N. Mayfair Road

Chinese food is on the menu, but the main attraction is the Mongolian grill, where you can build your own meal—from a salad-bar selection of vegetables, meats and condiments—and watch it all sizzle. (D.L.) $-$$. CC. FB. RS. LB. Handicap access. 774-5540


PERUVIAN


Chef Paz

9039 W. National Ave.

On a cool autumn day in Wisconsin, few things are nicer than a piping hot plate of delicious food in an inviting atmosphere. A delightful gem nestled in the heart of West Allis, Chef Paz will fill you up and warm your heart. What was once a classic corner diner has been transformed into a little slice of Peru. Colorful walls, simple tables with chairs or molded booths, soothing music and mouthwatering aromas from the kitchen set the tone, but the friendly service will make you feel right at home. (S.H.G.) $-$$. CC. OD. 327-1600


PIZZA


Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co and Wood Fired Pizza

2920 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Anodyne is well-known in Milwaukee for its high-quality coffee, and it should be no surprise that when they added pizza to the menu that it met the same high standard. Their Bay View location features a wood burning oven with southern Italian style pizza, with Italian inspired menu options, as well as numerous vegetarian choices. The café also offers wine for pairing, and boasts the perfect ambiance to enjoy a relaxed dinner with friends. (E.E.) $$. Handicap access. 489-0765


Balistreri’s Italian-American Ristorante

812 N. 68th St.

Older folks who dine at Balistreri’s on 68th and Wells may find themselves reminiscing about pizzas from days long past when eating here. The cozy, old-fashioned dining room doesn’t seem to have changed much since it opened in 1968 and neither has the pizza. Which is a good thing when you are talking about a Balistreri’s pizza! Thin crust pizzas topped with simple, traditional toppings like cheese, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, onions, and the special Balistreri’s pizza sauce is what they do best here. (S.H.G.) $$-$$$. CC. FF. 475-1414


Classic Slice

2797 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Classic Slice offers salad, appetizers and pizza (by the slice and in pie form) that is a cut above the competition. Kind to those with special dietary needs, Classic Slice offers a delicious house-made gluten-free crust sans upcharge as well as tasty GF appetizers like cheesy mashed potatoes. Salads are full of hearty, top-end ingredients like kale, arugula, humus and pistachios—miles from the incidental role greens play at most pizzerias. Vegans and vegetarians are treated to tofu toppings and vegan sausage. Truly an establishment with heart, Classic Slice proudly serves local vendors’ products (Simple Soyman, Yuppie Hill Eggs and Growing Power being just a few examples). (S.M.) $$. GF. 238-2406


Divino Wine & Dine

2315 N. Murray Ave.

This is the former Palermo Villa, an East Side institution for pizza. The new owners have kept the pizza recipes, but now their starter courses and entrées have been expanded in this Sicilian American menu. Starter courses vary from mozzarella marinara and fried eggplant to things like arancini (filled rice balls) and rapini (grilled broccoli rabe). The nice Palermo salad has conch and tender octopus. Most pasta and a few entrées are sold in smaller portions. This means that you can order both the beef tenderloin spedini and the fettuccine puttanesca without spending a fortune. (J.B.) $$. FB. Handicap access. 212-2222


Dom & Phil’s DeMarinis

1211 E. Conway St.

One of Bay View’s longest-running restaurant-bars, Dom & Phil’s DeMarinis has been a pizza destination for generations. Eschewing trends, DeMarinis sticks to Italian American tradition. Pizzas come in three sizes and can be topped with cheese, sausage, pepperoni, anchovies, onions, mushrooms, black olives and green peppers. For vegetarians, they offer an “Italian Garden Pesto Pizza” with broccoli and artichoke hearts; confirmed carnivores will opt instead for the “Steak Compobasa” with tenderloin and red peppers. DeMarinis’ pizza is unique for its paper-thin crust. Appetizers come in generous servings. Also on the menu are pasta dishes and sandwiches. (D.L.) $$. CC. FB. OD. 481-2348


Ian’s Pizza
2035 E North Ave. 

146 E. Juneau Ave.
Ian’s great contribution to college cuisine was popularizing mac n’ cheese pizza, a slice that’s worth each and every one of its considerable calories. Many of Ian’s specialty pizzas are even more daring, including the smoked brisket (with mozzarella, house-made barbecue sauce and tater tots) and chipotle sweet potato (topped with pickled onions, Portobello and feta). It’s not just the novelty that draws people in, though. All those imaginative ingredients sit atop a textbook-perfect crust: crispy on the bottom, but tender and toothsome around the edges. (E.R.) $$. 727-9200 (either location)


Lisa’s Pizzeria 

2961 N. Oakland Ave.

Lisa’s Pizza has been an Eastside staple since they opened in 1962. Sharing a two-block strip of Oakland Avenue with both the newly-opened, late-night friendly, New York-style pizza shop Sal’s and the ever-convenient, equally late-night friendly, fast food favorite Domino’s is no easy feat, but Lisa’s more than holds their own by specializing in high-quality no nonsense pies, and a cozy atmosphere that is equally suited for a Sunday family dinner or a casual date night. (R.H.) $$. CC. FB. 332-6360


Little DeMarinis

2860 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

The original Mama DeMarinis closed in 2012, but much to the relief of those who’d been craving a slice of their favorite pizza, Little DeMarinis is now open. Leading the new venture is the granddaughter of Lucille and Vincent DeMarinis. Veronica Cieslak and her husband, Joe, have the original handwritten recipes, so the crust, sauce and sausage all taste just the way long-time patrons remember. For those new to DeMarinis pizza, that means a 1950s-style thin-crust pizza, loaded with fresh homemade sausage. (S.H.G.) $$. FB. FF. Handicap access. 763-5272


Mama Mia Italian Cuisine

8533 W. Greenfield Ave.

The go-to local chain for pizza back in the ‘70s, Mama Mia continues in a location just blocks from the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds. Mama Mia features delectable thin-crust pizzas. Their tomato sauce is a bit on the sweeter side, and it gels nicely with the slim, bready crust and plentiful, salty cheese. Their E.B.A. pizza Everything But Anchovies—is stacked to the ceiling with topics and is superlative. Their lunch buffet includes five different types of pizza, meat lasagna with what seems like infinite cheese, and a killer hearty, well-seasoned minestrone soup. (F.K.R.C.) $$. 475-0400


Maria’s Pizzeria 

5025 W. Forest Home Ave.

Visit Maria’s Pizza, its three generations of family owners and its loyal clientele for a glimpse of 1950s dedication and charm. Established more than half a century ago, Maria’s is decked out in festive Christmas lights, paint-by-number religious pictures and Tiffany-style lamps. You’ll smell the delicious sesame seed garlic bread from a block away and the tasty breaded appetizers will have your mouth watering in seconds. Classics such as spaghetti and lasagna are available and the enormous signature thin-crust pizzas are made to satisfy any appetite. (S.M.) $-$$. Cash Only. Handicap access. 543-4606


Marty’s Pizza

16630 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield, 262-782-5830

2580 Sun Valley Drive, Delafield, 262-646-3327

Since 1957, Marty’s Pizza transitioned from celebrated pizza place to beloved institution by serving up traditional Italian American comfort food in a casual atmosphere at affordable prices. Nearly 60 years later, Marty’s Pizza boasts locations in Delafield and Brookfield and a successful catering business that includes hosting special events and offering online ordering. And while Marty’s has clearly embraced the changing times, recent visits to the Brookfield location revealed that the local favorite retained much of its old-fashioned charm without being outdated with a menu of subs, burgers and Italian entrées along with pizza. (E.P.) $-$$. CC. RS. Handicap access.


Monster Pizza

2856 N. Oakland Ave.

Catering to the UWM crowd, Monster Pizza specializes in giant 28-inch whole pies and pizza by the slice. Slices, which measure 12 inches from crust to tip, are available at a counter where customers can pick and choose from a variety of specialty styles. Between buffalo chicken, Greek with fried artichokes and black olives, Philly cheesesteak, and fried chicken and waffle with a maple cream cheese sauce, there’s something for every taste. Open late on weekends with delivery available. (L.M.) $-$$. 964-2850.


Papa Luigi’s

3475 E. Layton Ave.

A large bustling place occupying a full corner on Cudahy’s main street, Papa Luigi’s contemporary setting is aurally accented by the melodrama of Italian pop music. Known for thin crispy curst, Papa’s pizza comes in 8, 12, 14 and 16-inch sizes and covers the full flavor spectrum with a few surprises. On one extreme, you can order a veggie pizza with cheese, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and black olives; on the other, a “meat lovers pizza” topped with pepperoni, sausage, ground beef and Canadian bacon. The chicken Alfredo, chicken Parmigiana, Sicilian and Margherita form a Team Italy of tasty options. The Sicilian combines fine Italian cheese with spicy Italian sausage and a pleasant hint of olive oil. (D.L.) $-$$. FB. 483-6111


Pizza Man

2597 N. Downer Ave., 272-1745

7974 S. Main Street, Oak Creek, 856-1000

Pizza Man’s Downer Avenue location puts them in the direct company of fellow trendy Milwaukee-based chains such as BelAir Cantina and Café Hollander. The pizza menu boasts 16 specialty pies, ranging from the fairly conventional Pizza Man Special to the vegetarian friendly pesto pizza, as well as a build your own menu if none of the specialties fit your palette. Pizza Man also has an extensive wine menu to wash down whichever pie you choose. (R.H.) $$. CC. FB. GF. LT.


Pizza Shuttle 

1827 N. Farwell Ave.

Pizza, wings, burgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken, pasta, seafood, gyros, shawarma, pita, subs, wraps, calzone, Stromboli… every sort of greasy appetizer, garlic bread, bread sticks, homemade soups, salads, sundaes, shakes, malts, floats, cheesecake, funnel cake, cookies, soda and beer are on the vast menu. “Best Of” awards—for Delivery/Take-Out Menu, Late Night and Cheap Eats—fill a wall. The retro dine-in area has a front wall of windows, a classic photo booth and a Pac-Man video game. (J.S.) $-$$. CC. LT. Handicap access. 289-9993


Pizzeria Piccola

7606 W. State St., 443-0800

5300 S. Howell Ave., Mitchell International Airport, Concourse C

Extra thin, crispy crusts and personal sized pizzas are the specialty of Pizzeria Piccola. As a Bartolotta-owned restaurant, it shouldn’t be a surprise to find delicious gourmet ingredients topping some very creative pizza options. For example, try the Chicken Sausage pizza topped with perfectly seasoned ground chicken sausage, provolone, gorgonzola, shaved celery, and toasted pine nuts. So good! Enjoy in the rustic self-service, 2nd floor dining room or charming patio, in season. (S.H.G.) $$. CC. OD. GF. Handicap access. 


Riverfront Pizzeria Bar & Grill

509 E. Erie St.

Pizza and a view. Most people would call that a perfect combination, and the Third Ward’s Riverfront Pizzeria delivers this experience like no other pizza shop in town. While it is perfectly acceptable to dine in specifically for the lakefront view, the real star of the show is of course the delicious, cheesy, doughy pizza, which comes in all types and varied varieties, including Thai Chicken, BLT, Taco and Cheeseburger, among many more. (R.H.) $$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 277-1800


Riverwest Pizza
932 E. Wright St.
Everything about this cozy, relatively new addition to Riverwest’s pizza scene is tasteful, and the ingredients must be some of the freshest in the city—it all tastes like it just came from the farmer’s market. Each pizza is named after a neighborhood street. The clear standout here is the Fratney, a savory pie topped with duck, goat cheese and arugula, though the elegant Bremen, with its constellation of kale, mushrooms, tomato and mozzarella, is a wonderful lighter alternative. Either way, start your meal off with an appetizer of fried Brussels sprouts. (E.R.) $-$$. 269-9703


The Roman Candle Pizzeria

133 E. Silver Spring Drive

At the Whitefish Bay location of the Madison-based chain, more than 50 items or ingredients on the menu are sourced by Wisconsin purveyors. No surprise, the main attraction here is pizza. The crust style is hand-tossed and available in three sizes, but that’s only the beginning of the options. There are seven different pizza sauces, five different cheeses (all from Wisconsin) and a lengthy list of toppings including fresh beets, walnuts, grass-fed beef and even pineapple-chipotle drizzle. Roman Candle also offers takeout and delivery. (K.L.L.) $-$$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 964-3000


Sal’s Pizza

2974 N. Oakland Ave., 967-8040

2040 W. Wisconsin Ave., 344-9931

Sal’s Pizza is famous for its hand-tossed, foldable, flavorful New York-style pizza. The menu doesn’t end there though—Sal’s also offers classic Italian staples like ravioli, chicken parmesan, calzones, and meatball parmesan sandwiches. If you’re at Sal’s, make a note to try their handmade garlic knots, which, for the initiated, are incentive enough to choose Sal’s over the other pizza places in town. Gluten free crust is available. (E.E.) $-$$. GF.


San Giorgio Pizzeria Napoletana

838 N. Old World Third St.

The Downtown Calderone Club opened a Neapolitan-style pizzeria next door in the former Thai Palace space and obtained VPN certification by the Naples-based Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. To get certified, pizzerias must adhere to strict standards in ingredients, methods and equipment in order to faithfully recreate Naples-style pizza. The wood-burning oven, imported from Italy, will cook pizzas in about a minute and a half at blistering temperature, resulting in the leopard spot-like char on the crust called cornicione. Ten varieties of pizza are offered. Margherita has tomatoes from San Marzano, Italy, fresh mozzarella, basil and extra virgin olive oil. The restaurant’s namesake pizza forgoes tomatoes for a splash of olive oil along with braised fennel, pancetta, mozzarella and an egg cracked in the middle. Appetizers, soup, panini, meatballs and rotisserie meats are also on the menu. (L.M.) $$. 276-2876


Santino’s Little Italy

352 E. Stewart St.

Santino’s focuses on pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven imported from Italy. The crust of the Neapolitan-style pizzas is made with Caputo flour, an Italian brand of finely ground wheat favored by the best pizza restaurants in Naples. The Margherita pizza, topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil, is a traditional favorite. Other options include Melanzana with grilled eggplant and oregano, Diavolo with salami, cayenne and red bell peppers, and an Italian beef and giardiniera-topped pie. Antipasti, salads and a few pasta dishes are also available, including pasta with a giant, 10-ounce meatball. (L.M.) $$. FB. 897-7367


SoLo Pizza

2856 N. Oakland Ave.

SoLo is the new name for the former Oakland Trattoria. The menu is more focused on the wood-fired pizzas although entrée salads and a few pastas and sandwiches remain. Design your own pizza here. There are three sizes and the cost for the many toppings is minimal, even for artichoke hearts and portabellas. The new interior is more vibrant. Tile mosaics have flame designs and a lot of sizzle. (J.B.) $$. CC. Handicap access. 964-2850


Transfer Pizzeria Café

101 W. Mitchell St.

A rehabbed jewel of a building with tile floors, multiple levels and much sunlight through big windows, Transfer features hand-tossed pizza in three dozen varieties from ordinary cheese and sausage to extraordinary creations such as Thai chicken with peanut sauce and the DaVinci with pesto, feta and asiago. If that’s not enough, Transfer offers 44 additional toppings, including pan-fried potatoes, smoked gouda and vegan cheese. Transfer supports local artists; the walls are hung with local photography and painting and jazz combos hold forth on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. (D.L.) $-$$. FB. GF. RS (6+). Handicap access. 763-0438


Upper Crust Pizza 

249 E. Hampton Ave.

Some takeout rules are nonnegotiable, one being that on a lazy Saturday night or at the end of the hectic workday, everyone needs a good pizza place in their carryout roster. Upper Crust Pizza is one such place. Upper Crust Pizza offers every item one could expect from a pizza place, from pasta and hoagies to burgers and fried appetizers. And while Upper Crust Pizza serves up its share of Buffalo wings and garlic bread, its draw remains its popular pizza. Offering hand-tossed or thin-crust, Upper Crust Pizza provides a variety of special pies including the Hawaiian, the Mediterranean, the Garden Harvest, and the Upper Crust Special. Covered in a mild sauce and plenty of sausage, the Upper Crust Special is one of Upper Crust Pizza’s better pizzas to consider. $-$$. (E.P.) 332-6820


Vinchi’s Pizza
3158 S. Howell Ave.
It’s alright if you’re a little confused. Vinchi’s Pizza shares a location with The Bubbler, a popular, refreshingly unpretentious Bay View neighborhood tap, but it’s a completely separate business from the bar. That setup may not inspire confidence, but Vinchi’s is the real deal. The crust is thin and dusted with cornmeal, the sauce is rich and zesty, and the toppings are generous. All bars should be so lucky to have a pizzeria this good crashing in their back room. $-$$. FB. (E.R.) 384-8040

Wy’east Pizza

5601 W. Vliet St.

Crisp and slightly charred, Wy’east Pizza’s artisan crust provides a welcoming base for its savory tomato sauce. Covered in melted mozzarella and pecorino cheese, the red pies include the likes of the Hogsback, a pleasing arrangement of sausage and red onion, and the enthusiastically recommended Hot Marmot, a delicious combination of fresh garlic, pepperoni, and sweet hot peppers. (E.P.) OD. 943-3278


Zaffiro’s Pizza 

1724 N. Farwell Ave.

Eating at Zaffiro’s Pizza’s first location on Farwell Ave. is a rite of passage for anyone who’s recently migrated to the East Side of Milwaukee. Zaffiro’s is exceptionally conducive to camaraderie, with its atmosphere steeped in Milwaukee history. The restaurant features traditional Italian comfort food, including their unmistakable and patented pizza pies, a phenomenal meatball sandwich, spaghetti, ravioli, tortellini, and spumoni for dessert. Zaffiro’s also boasts a full bar, so if you’re looking to kick back with friends at the end of a long day, it doesn’t get much better. (E.E.) $-$$. CC. RS (10+). FF. FB. LT. Handicap access. 289-8776


POLISH


Polonez Restaurant 

4016 S. Packard Ave.

Polonez remains a favorite place for pierogi, Polish sausage, borscht and dill pickle soup, but the restaurant’s stick-to-the-ribs Polish comfort food menu has been augmented in recent years with new items that pivot toward lighter and vegetarian, including poached salmon and chicken breast served in white butter and wine sauce. An array of Polish beer remains a draw. Try the Saturday night and Sunday afternoon all-you-can-eat polka buffet. (D.L.) $$. CC. GF. FB. FF. RS. SB. Handicap access. 482-0080


PUERTO RICAN


Café El Sol 

1028 S. Ninth St.

Located deep inside the United Community Center, El Sol’s visibility is relatively low, even though it has its own plainly marked entrance. But anyone who loves Mexican and Puerto Rican food shouldn’t overlook it. El Sol is notable for its daily Puerto Rican specials, but also serves up a fine selection of enchiladas, tacos, guacamole and tostadas. Try a breakfast of huevos rancheros or good old Yankee eggs, toast and bacon. The Friday fish fry buffet features live Latin music. Open Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. and Friday 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. (D.L.) $. CC. FF. RS. 384-3100 ext. 275


La Isla 

3500 W. National Ave.

La Isla offers homey Puerto Rican fare in a casual setting. The specialty is mofongo, mashed plantains with garlic in the shape of a ball and served with a choice of meat. The mofongo can also be filled with shrimp in a garlicky Creole sauce. Pork and fried chicken are also prominent in this menu. Daily specials tend to be slow-cooked stews varying from chicken and beef to pork tripe with green bananas. This is honest Puerto Rican fare. Most items include rice and beans or a simple salad. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. NA. 882-7003


SEAFOOD


American Serb Hall 

5101 W. Oklahoma Ave.

The Friday fish fry at American Serb Hall is more than a meal—it’s an event. Whether you’re chowing down on deep-fried cod, baked cod, perch, pollock, shrimp, chicken or Serb Hall’s specialty, spicy Serbian-style baked fish, you’ll take home memories as well as a doggie bag. For those pressed for time, use the convenient drive-through. (L.K.) $$. CC. FB. FF. 545-6030


The Anchorage Restaurant

4700 N. Port Washington Road

The address and name are all that remains of the old restaurant. Now the resident eatery of the Holiday Inn Milwaukee Riverfront Hotel (formerly The Hilton), The Anchorage received a modern facelift but hangs on to its namesake and a reputation of more than 35 years of good food. The Anchorage’s menu is mostly traditional, a common format for most hotel restaurants, offering a well-rounded range of items to satisfy travelers as well as locals. Many seafood preparations are considered signature items, such as pecan-crusted walleye and bacon-wrapped scallops. The restaurant also features some upscale culinary surprises such as prime steaks from Allen Brothers (including a 12-ounce New York Strip and a 14-ounce Black Angus ribeye). (K.L.L.) $$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 962-6040


Bosley on Brady 

815 E. Brady St.

A white linen establishment with a popular and trendy bar, the menu focuses on seafood along with a few steaks. Many items have touches of Key West. Grouper, though pricey, is always impeccably fresh. Try the Maryland-style crab cake. Scallops with risotto also are the stuff of dreams. There is also a thoughtful wine list. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. OD. RS. Handicap access. 727-7975


Devon Seafood + Steak 

5715 N. Bayshore Drive (in Bayshore Town Center)

If I hadn’t previously dined at Devon Seafood & Steak in other cities I would probably assume it was just another independent restaurant. It doesn’t have the feel or appearance of a chain. Daily fish offerings are decided daily— based on daily fresh deliveries and printed on a menu that changes daily. So in that case it’s not operating like a chain restaurant either. Of course, there are plenty of popular menu staples one can count on different occasions. (K.L.L.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 967-9790


Harbor House

550 N. Harbor Drive

Enter and you’ll first see a bar topped with white marble. The dining area also is white from the walls to the linens, a contrast with the dark hardwood floors. A long band of windows offer prime views of the Calatrava. The raw bar excels with the finest oysters in town. All seafood is ultra-fresh. The place gets noisy, but who cares? (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. RS. SB. Handicap access. 395-4900


Joey’s Seafood & Grill

12455 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield

Go for the fish and chips, as the haddock is in a good crisp batter. Joey’s adds nautical charm to a small strip mall and the bar makes a comfortable watering hole. The prices are family friendly. In general if you keep it simple Joey’s is enjoyable. The prices are affordable, especially for weekday lunches. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 262-790-9500


Key Westconsin

331 Riverfront Plaza, Waukesha

Standout entrees include the lip-smacking Outer Banks crab cakes, three crab cakes topped with a house key lime aioli sauce. The scallops west are also a good bet, sautéed scallops served on top of Key Westsconsin’s baby potato pancakes, topped with a homemade lime Hollandaise sauce and bacon. Saturday’s featured surf & turf is pretty hard to top for the price, which includes a five-ounce fillet and, on alternating weeks, a baked lobster tail, crab legs, or fried shrimp. (S.H.G.) $$-$$$. OD. FB. Handicap access. 262-446-2346


St. Paul Fish Company

400 N. Water St. 

Located inside the Milwaukee Public Market, St. Paul Fish offers a wide range of seafood for the home cook. It also has full-service dining. Oysters on the half shell are served over shaved ice and the steamed lobsters and fried clams bring back fond memories of New England. There are many sandwiches as well as grilled seafood entrées. (J.B.) $$. CC. FF. Handicap access. 220-8383


Third Coast Provisions

724 N. Milwaukee St.

Seafood is the focus of the menu, which includes selections from a raw bar on the lower level of the restaurant. Diners looking for a special night out will enjoy the posh, glittering interior full of gold leaf-flecked mirrors, silver wall patterns and white marble tables. Chargrilled oysters are a house specialty and can be prepared classic Rockefeller style with spinach, pernod, parmesan and bacon; Milwaukee style with pastrami, garlic, shallot and beer; or simply with roasted garlic butter. Lobster potholes, and appetizer similar to escargots, bathes chunks of lobster and crab in garlic herb butter with brioche for dipping. A number of fin fish are available, from Lake Superior whitefish to Atlantic monkfish. (L.M.) $$$. FB. 323-7434

Twisted Fisherman Crab Shack

1200 W. Canal St.

Barnacle Bud’s has long been Milwaukee’s go-to destination for beachy ambiance and riverside food and drinks, but the Menomonee Valley’s too-easily-overlooked Twisted Fisherman deserves a spot in the city’s heart, too. The food is a touch more upscale than Buds’ plastic-basket fare, with a solid fish fry and a surf-and-turf option for big spenders, and the drinks are unabashedly sweet and boozy. After a couple of them on the bar’s sunny patio you’ll feel like you’re on vacation, even if you have to report to work a half mile away the next morning. (E.R.) $$. CC. OD. FB. Handicap access. 384-2722


SERBIAN

Fritz’s Pub

3086 S. 20th St.

This corner bar offers bureks, pork shish kabob, tasty Serbian sausage and a Fritzburger of veal and beef. The fish fry includes homemade rye bread and choice of beer battered cod or haddock, served alongside seasoned potato wedges, onion-filled coleslaw, tangy tartar sauce and that freshly baked rye. The batter is thin and crisp and is what keeps the phone ringing off the hook with takeout orders. (L.M.) $. CC. FF. Handicap access. 643-6995


Old Town Serbian Gourmet House 

522 W. Lincoln Ave.

 Now in its second generation as a family business, Old Town remains packed with Balkan charm, its walls covered with scenes from the homeland, icons, and ‘60s modernism. The lunch and dinner menus continue to focus on Serbian favorites such as burek and chicken paprikash. Be sure to try the brimming Serbian salad composed of diced tomatoes, onions and feta cheese. On Friday the Serbian baked fish is a treat. (D.L.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. FF. RS. 672-0206


Three Brothers Restaurant

2414 S. St. Clair St.

This former Schlitz corner tavern, a Bay View landmark, deserves a visit. Tables are crowded and the kitchen is slow, but the Serbian food is mostly worth the wait. Bureks are huge and sarma (stuffed cabbage) always pleases. (J.B.) $$-$$$. Cash Only. FB. Handicap access. 481-7530


SMALL PLATE/TAPAS


Balzac 

1716 N. Arlington Place

The preferred beverage at Balzac is wine, although the beer list is also extensive. The experience is enhanced with international small plates, flatbread pizzas and cheese plates. The wine list is thicker than the menu. Coq au vin chicken wings and lamb croquettes are among the many delights. The outdoor tables are a quiet refuge in summertime. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. LT. OD. RS. Handicap access. 755-0099


East End Wine Bar

700 N. Art Museum Drive

As part of its extensive renovation, the Milwaukee Art Museum opened the East End Wine Bar with a spectacular view of Lake Michigan. The menu is small plates topped with desserts from Rocket Baby. Also on hand is a fine list of imported and craft beer and wine and gourmet tea from Rare Tea Cellar. As part of the museum’s efforts to open itself to the community, there is even a happy hour every Friday from 4-6 p.m. (A.M.) $-$$. OD. 224-3200


Indulge

708 N. Milwaukee St.

The choices here are charcuterie, wine or chocolate. Indulge in a wine selected from more than 300 vintages and a charcuterie menu that ranges from duck prosciutto to speck and Serrano ham. The chocolate is merely the icing on the cake. Indulge! (J.B.) $$$$. CC. LT. OD. RS. Handicap access. 390-9463


La Merenda

125 E. National Ave.

When La Merenda opened in 2007, small plate dining was unfamiliar to most Milwaukeeans but the cozy Walker’s Point restaurant soon took the lead in exposing the city to the delights of tapas. The menu evolves seasonally, draws from a host of Wisconsin ingredients and includes vegetarian, seafood, poultry and red meat selections. With its colorfully mismatched tables and chairs and friendly but unobtrusive service, La Merenda is the perfect place for an unhurried meal among friends. (D.L.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. GF. OD. RS. Handicap access. 389-0125


Odd Duck

2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Odd Duck offers hints of Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean in its daily changing menu. Available are small plates with a few larger ones for dinner, as well as a selection of local charcuterie and cheeses. For the lightest of appetites, try a sample of the house-made dilly beans or even a pickled egg. The menu of the day might offer squash empanadas, seared scallops and gouda-stuffed dates. Larger plates may include stuffed quail, pan-seared trout and grilled garlic pork belly. Whatever is offered will be worth ordering. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. RS. Handicap access. 763-5881


Wauwatiki Bar & Grill

6502 W. North Ave.

The colorfully illustrated beverage menu is clearly the central focus and surely Wauwatiki’s raison d’être. This menu is divided into Classics, Bowls and Signature drinks. Among the Classics are such tiki bar calling cards as Mai Tai and Singapore Sling. The dinner menu offers a selection of small plates including pork dumplings, steamed edamame pods, tuna poke (served raw, island-style with wasabi teriyaki and others. There are also sandwiches and skillet entrees including steak, jerk chicken, cilantro-lime shrimp and a garlic-balsamic marinated grilled vegetable ensemble. (J.J.) $$. FB. GF. Handicap access. 323-7555


SOUP


The Soup House

324 E. Michigan St. 

High-ceilinged, open and welcoming, The Soup House’s interior is painted sky blue and decked out in eclectic, artsy furnishings, with potted plants along the ample windows. Attractive partitions make the dining area cozy and somewhat private, but leave its spaciousness unchecked. Six delicious rotating soups are the principal cause for this inspired establishment, but simple sandwiches, cookies and salads are also available. Enjoy a conversation with friends or peruse one of the many interesting books lying around, while you take in the rich and varied flavors of The Soup House. (S.M.) $. Cash only. OD. NA. GF. 277-7687


The Soup Market 

440 N. Water St., Milwaukee Public Market, 276-4444

2211 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 727-8462

5301 S. 108th St., 529-8534

5330 W. Vliet St., 727-0699

111 Kilbourn Ave., 727-0700

The Soup Market (called The Soup & Stock Market at its Water Street location) offers tasty home-style selections. Pick up one of the seven or eight daily soups, a baked potato, sweet potato or a hearty slice of quiche at the Public Market branch, and dine upstairs where ample seating is available with an attractive view of the Milwaukee River and Third Ward. Bulk ingredients are also for sale and Haley & Annabelle’s Vanilla Root Beer makes a smooth and unique beverage complement to any dish, with proceeds going to the namesakes’ college funds! (S.M.) $. CC. NA. 


Zoup!

1433 N. Jefferson St.

The Michigan-based Zoup! Recently opened its first Milwaukee location. Zoup!’s menu boasts hundreds of soups, including standouts like lobster bisque, collard green chicken barley and “Blazin’ Bison Chili,” with 12 varieties rotating on a daily basis. If you don’t find your match with any of soups d’jour, salads and sandwiches provide a tasty alternative. Offerings such as the quinoa veggie wrap and the smoked and cheesy maple ham & bacon set Zoup! Apart from other soup and sandwich chains. (R.H.) $. 944-7500.


SOUTHERN/SOUL FOOD


Ashley’s Que

124 W. National Ave.

Ashley’s Que prepares 8 a.m.-2 p.m. breakfasts and daily side specials. A Saturday and Sunday all-day brunch offers a choice of chicken fried steak or a couple of thick, lean pork chops smothered in hearty brown gravy with thin American fries apart from the standard choice of two other side dishes. Among the latter, the greens, cooked to the mid-point between tender and crisp and with bits of smoked pork, are always a worthwhile accompaniment. (J.L.R.) $-$$. CC. OD. FB. Handicap access. 276-7666


Maxie’s

6732 W. Fairview Ave.

Maxie’s offers Southern food and hospitality. While much is Louisiana in inspiration, starting with gumbo, jambalaya and po’ boy sandwiches, there is Carolina-style pulled pork and shrimp with grits. Check out the fresh seafood and oysters on the half shell. Save room for their pie. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. FF. OD. RS (8+ Sunday-Thursday). Handicap access. 292-3969


Mr. Perkins’ Family Restaurant 

2001 W. Atkinson Ave.

Established in 1969, the restaurant adheres to an old-school aesthetic and approach that works: fantastic food, excellent service, and an incredibly friendly ambiance. Everything is made from scratch; each entrée comes with two sides, of which there are nearly a dozen from which to choose. Mr. Perkins’ only operates in the morning and afternoon. Business rarely lulls. (F.K.R.C.) $-$$. CC. FF. Handicap accessible 447-6660 


Pass Da Peas

7870 W. Appleton Ave.

One might expect an eatery named for a hit by James Brown to excel at soul food. Pass Da Peas lives up to expectations. Steak and chicken smothered in gravy, meat loaf, fried catfish and tilapia—and less pricy lunches such as a wings meal—comprise much of the menu. The salmon croquettes make for a fine supper; a side of greens can come as collards or a lip-smacking combo of turnip and mustard, lightly speckled with pork but none the greasier for the meaty addition. Black-eyed peas (a natural choice considering the place’s name) aren’t as smoky as they can be elsewhere in the city, but are flavorful with only a hint of soupiness. (J.L.R.) $-$$. 393-0992


Something Smells Good

8704 W. Brown Deer Road

Offerings include loose and patty hamburgers, a fancy variation on chicken wings, weekly crab boils and what’s become something of a staple of certain Northwest Side eateries: weekly African American soul food selections (one highlight being chitterlings with red onion garnish). SSG’s doner kebab, a Near Eastern specialty with a Midwestern refashioning, is especially scrumptious—a fried catfish filet filling topped by veggies, a garlic-chili aioli and feta cheese crumble in a toasty pita. The spiced French fries are fine, but try the side salad of spring greens, grated jack cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes and other bits of flora. (J.L.R.) $-$$. 344-8310


SPANISH


Amilinda

315 E. Wisconsin Ave.

Amilinda’s Spanish-Portuguese inspired menu is drawn from tradition and the travels of chef/co-owner Gregory León. Bravo to Chef León for doing fewer menu items, doing them well and changing them often. León works with local farmers, taking what is in season and creating an abbreviated menu that doesn’t have so many choices it makes your head spin. There are five to six items in each of the two categories, almost everything is made in house (the bread comes from Rocket Baby, another plus in my book) and although you may see Yukon potatoes on three of the five dishes, each dish has their own inspiration of ingredients. Amilinda is a great place to make friends, meet friends and enjoy a fantastic meal that changes daily, keeping you wanting more. (A.M.) $$-$$$. CC. RS. Handicap access. 369-3683


Bodegon

600 S. Sixth St.

The sister restaurant to Movida, Bodegon is a Spanish fine dining spot in Walker’s Point. The word bodegon means home cooking restaurant and implies a rustic touch on the menu. Steaks, mostly from Ney’s Big Sky, are the dinner focus, like the 32-ounce, bone-in ribeye that’s dry-aged in house. An octopus appetizer features balsamic vinegar, orange and fennel for a light starter. Bodegon also features a chef’s table to watch the open kitchen in action and a wine cellar underground. Expect a well-curated wine list, cocktails that feature homemade ingredients and molecular gastronomy components, and sangria and vermouth on tap. (L.M.) $$$$. FB. 488-9146


Movida 

524 S. Second Street

The menu embodies the heart and soul of Spain. Most dishes are small portions encouraging diners to sample and share. Start with assorted tapas including olives and peppers, clams with artichoke, white wine and butter, or a tartare of beef tenderloin with truffle oil, quail yolk and shallot. Tablas feature Spanish cheeses including manchego, a hard sheep’s milk cheese, and Mahon, a salty cow’s milk cheese. In the Cena category you’ll find pork cheek, octopus, braised short ribs or scallops. (J.R.) $$-$$$$. FB. RS. 224-5300


STEAKHOUSES


Capital Grille 

310 W. Wisconsin Ave.

This high-end chain sets the standard for dry-aged steaks and fresh seafood. Maine lobsters run as large as five pounds. The Milwaukee branch also has a fine setting with dark woodwork and attentive service. Steaks rank with the best locally. No detail is too small, from the heirloom tomatoes on the fresh mozzarella salad to the Courvoisier cognac cream on the steak au poivre. The place seems made for expense accounts. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. GF. Handicap access. 223-0600


Carnevor 

718 N. Milwaukee St.

If you love a good steak, Carnevor ranks with the best steak in the city of Milwaukee. It all starts with the great quality of beef from Allen Brothers Prime Steaks as well as SURG Restaurant Group’s Hidden Creek Farm. But Carnevor’s mission to serve the finest meat in the city doesn’t stop at beef, they also serve mangalitsa pork, known for being exceptionally, juicy, tender and marbled. If beef isn’t enough, why not top it with foie gras, truffle butter or a fried organic egg. Don’t forget about one of the many steak house sides, large enough for sharing, including truffle mashed, risotto and the popular Carnevor steak fries with garlic aioli. (A.M.) $$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 223-2200


Dream Dance Steak

1712 W. Canal St.

Dream Dance is the showcase restaurant of Potawatomi Hotel and Casino. There are champagne and cognac carts as well as a tremendous wine list. The approach is contemporary with a focus on American ingredients. Whether you choose seared scallops or a rack of venison, everything will be prepared with respect and skill. The décor is of contemporary luxury, the cutlery ultra-pricey and everything from the amuse-bouche to dessert, an exercise in good taste. The prices rank with the most expensive but this is a worthy splurge. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 847-7883


Eddie Martini’s 

8612 Watertown Plank Road

Frank and Dino could have used Eddie Martini’s bar as their watering hole. The drinks are potent enough to power the happy hour neon and the atmosphere is always dark and cool behind impenetrable Venetian blinds. The Rat Pack would have dug the swinging music, not to mention the steaks and chops and the escargot and seafood. Everything’s A-OK. (D.L.) $$$$. CC. FB. RS. OD. Handicap access. 771-6680


Five O’Clock Steakhouse
2416 W. State St.
Between its retro décor and quirky ordering system, the Five O’Clock Steakhouse offers a unique dining experience. Diners order at the bar while enjoying a pre-meal drink. When they arrive at their table, their salad will be waiting for them, along with fresh sourdough bread and a full relish tray. Though the menu offers seafood, lamb and pork, the steaks are the obvious no-brainer here. They’re cooked on high heat so even the rarest orders develop a phenomenal char that seals in the juices, then topped with butter sautéed mushrooms. The décor may be outdated, but these steaks are timeless. (E.R.) $$$$. CC. RS. FB. 342-3553

Jackson Grill 

3736 W. Mitchell St.

A cozy establishment, Jackson Grill resembles a 1940s supper club. Start with an appetizer of Cajun barbecue shrimp, more than enough for two. French cognac salad dressing has a retro steakhouse feel. The Black Angus filet is one of the best steaks found locally, seared on the outside and perfect medium rare in the middle. This is the place for serious red meat eaters. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. FF. OD. RS. 384-7384


Mason Street Grill 

425 E. Mason St.

This grill at The Pfister Hotel features a casual setting, a bar room with fireplace, a dining room and a marble counter where patrons are able to watch the chefs at work. The menu includes excellent steaks and solid seafood, along with a less expensive lounge menu. The Mason Street Grill sets standards far above typical hotel fare. (J.B.) $$-$$$$. CC. RS. OD. Handicap access. 298-3131


Milwaukee ChopHouse 

633 N. Fifth St., Milwaukee Hilton Hotel

The upscale steakhouse has the meat to match the prices, from the veal chop to the bone-in rib-eye steak. The range of items includes seafood and chicken. But appetizers and side items also shine from ahi tuna crudo to grilled asparagus. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. V. Handicap access. 226-2467


Milwaukee Steakhouse

6024 W. Bluemound Road

Bring on the big steaks, thick pork chops and jumbo shrimp. The king of steaks is a 28-ounce porterhouse. Good luck finishing it. Entrées all include mushrooms, a relish tray, soup or salad, sourdough bread and a choice of potato. Order a baked potato and slather it with sour cream. Steaks and the Thursday and Saturday prime rib special are the best to order here. If your focus is on succulent beef and abundant quantity, this is your steakhouse. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. FB. OD. RS. Handicap access. 312-7891


Mo’s: A Place for Steaks 

720 N. Plankinton Ave.

This is the original Mo’s, which now has outposts in Indianapolis and Houston. The prices and setting all say upscale. Start with a retro wedge of salad, then move to bacon-wrapped sea scallops and a “McAlpine” rib-eye for an entrée. Sides are extra. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. RS. FB. Handicap access. 272-0720


Rare

833 E Michigan St.

It was immediately apparent that customer service is as important at Rare as the food in providing an ultra-fine dining experience. Rare’s atmosphere has an elegant and sophisticated look. The wine list is as impressive as the service. The menu is vast with selections in each category from starters to other meat and seafood options, but the stars at Rare are the steaks. Rare only uses USDA Prime, specific hand cuts and dry aged in their aging locker right on site. The steaks are seared in an 1800-degree infrared broiler to get a nice crust on the outside and served with au jus. (A.M.) $$$$. CC. FB. RS. GF. Handicap access. 273-7273


Steakhouse 100 

7246 W. Greenfield Ave.

True to its name, Steakhouse 100 features steaks in a supper-club ambiance with table linen and a basket of hot bread to start. However, the choices are wide-ranging and global: appetizers include chicken shish-kabob, brie and deep-fried jalapenos along with mozzarella sticks. Alongside 10 steak selections, the menu includes an array of seafood, dinner salads and a “beef ’n’ reef” heading and offers pilaf as a side dish along with choice of soup and salad. (D.L.) $$-$$$$. CC. FB. FF. RS. Handicap access. 727-2222


Ward’s House of Prime

540 E. Mason St.

The bar room of this downtown destination has a soaring ceiling, a great wine selection and a select list of scotch and cognac. Prime rib is the specialty although chicken, lamb and seafood are served too. The bar has its own menu with lighter fare and some servings the size of tapas. The setting is pleasant, the seating spacious and the service good. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. OD. V. Handicap access. 223-0135


SUBS AND SANDWICHES


Chubby’s Cheesesteaks

2232 N. Oakland Ave., 287-9999

2147 Miller Park Way, 672-1111

Everything about this sandwich is near perfect. It starts with the Sciortino roll, always so fresh and soft, and extends to the ribeye, which is diced into tiny soft bits like the man at the grill is vehemently working out deep-rooted issues with his barbecue spatula. And then there’s the pleasantly harsh brace of raw onion, the tomatoes swimming through for brightness, the Whiz, cascading about, free to run so many courses due to minimal resistance from such bitty chunks of steak. (T.L.) $. CC. NA. LT. 


Cousins Subs

Multiple locations

Cousins was among the earliest venues to introduce the submarine sandwich to Milwaukee. The chain (which has since expanded to other Midwest states and even Arizona) features tuna, turkey breast, chicken breast, meatball, four varieties of cheese steaks and many other options all served on fresh Italian bread for a filling and flavorful meal on the run. Cousins also offers gargantuan party subs to take home and services many local delis and coffee shops with its sandwiches. (D.L.) $. CC. NA.


Dr. Dawg
6969 N. Port Washington Road
Diners with dietary restrictions are surprisingly well accommodated at this popular fast-food chain, which offers not one but two kinds of vegan sausages (apple wood sage or spicy Mexican chipotle) and a gluten-free version of nearly everything on the menu. Along with the expected chilidogs and Chicago dogs, the menu offers a Wisconsin brat, a Kobe beef dog, hearty chicken sandwiches and Italian beef sandwiches. (E.R.) $. CC. OD. Handicap access. 540-0400

Erbert & Gerbert’s Sandwich Shop

2338 N. Farwell Ave.

The best thing about this sandwich and soup shop is the food. The French bread is fresh and tasty, the veggies crisp, the meats plentiful, the sauces well-seasoned and the soup thick and hearty. In a mini-mall just north of east North Avenue and open after hours on weekends, you can carry out or grab a table. On the walls you’ll find original fairy tales with charming illustrations by the franchise’s Eau Claire founder that explain the whimsical names of his delectable concoctions. (J.S.) $. CC. OD. NA. Handicap access. 273-3727 


Georgie Porgie’s Burger & Custard Treefort

9555 S. Howell Ave., 571-9889  

5502 Washington Ave., Mount Pleasant, 262-635-5030

Founded in 1991 by George P. Laipis (1939-2014) and now run by his two sons, this family friendly lunch and dinner spot is dedicated to bringing smiles to all faces with its tree fort decorations, delicious burgers, gyros, chicken sandwiches, salads and freshly made frozen custards. Unique daily custard flavors—such as cherry streusel, Boston creme pie, Mocha Pecan Madness and salted brownie—as well as monthly burger and sundae specials are sure to leave your taste buds singing. The establishment also hosts car shows and supports local nonprofit organizations and community groups. (A.S.) $. CC. OD. Handicap access.


John’s Sandwich Shop

8913 W. North Ave.

The longtime fixture in Wauwatosa reinvented itself a few years ago with a new interior and a healthier menu. Did you know that yogurt helps prevent hypertension or that olives are an anti-inflammatory? Such are the captions on the menu, an offering with a slight Mediterranean accent. Among the delights are a shiitake sunflower scramble and raspberry fritter French toast. (D.L.) $. Cash only. OD. 257-9347


Sammy’s Taste of Chicago

1234 S. 108th St.

“High-quality hot dog” is not an oxymoron at Sammy’s Taste of Chicago. The establishment has a nostalgic feel, as it aptly encapsulates the vibe of a ‘90s-era Chicago hotdog stand. Sammy’s runs the whole gamut of savory meats served in buns, including traditional hot dogs, bratwurst, polish sausage, sub sandwiches and Italian beef. If you want to round out your meal and don’t plan on working out for five or six hours after eating, they also offer frosty chocolate milkshakes and golden, well-seasoned French fries. (E.E.) $. CC. OD. 774-0466


Tosa Bowl and Bun 

7212 W. North Ave.

Offering sandwiches, salads daily entrée and soup specials, this family owned deli celebrates homemade goodness. Entrees include scalloped potatoes and ham, meatloaf, lasagna and a Friday fish fry, while toasted potato soup, tomato zucchini soup, white bean chicken chili and Rueben soup are among the featured daily delights. Hearty and flavorful, the Rueben soup is satisfying without the accompaniment of a sandwich. Served on Sciortino Bakery rolls Tosa Bowl and Bun’s selection of sandwiches contains chicken salad, roasted veggies and the recommended Italian, a classic combination of provolone, ham, salami, pepperoni. For lighter options consider one of the establishment’s seven salads, which are served with homemade dressings and croutons. (E.P.) $. FF. 210-2834


Twisted Bistro

1126 S. 70th St.

Jason Joyner and Amber Atlee, owners of the Culinary Twists food cart, opened the Twisted Bistro in 2014. The Culinary Twists cart, seen at farmers’ markets all around town in 2013, was known for creative hot dogs and fresh, made-from-scratch foods. The Twisted Bistro keeps the hot dogs and the freshness but expands the food offerings to include breakfast, sandwiches, burgers, soups and wraps. Open weekdays. (S.H.G.) $. CC. Handicap access. 316-3000


West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe

6832 W. Becher St., 543-4230

400 N. Water St., Milwaukee Public Market, 289-8333 

The “Shoppe” specializes in its namesakes and right next door to its West Allis location sits its café serving a long list of breakfast items all day long and daily sandwich specials on weekdays. It’s a pleasant, spacious place for sipping a strong cup of coffee or a Bloody Mary, having a conversation or enjoying a meal. The regular lunch menu features stick-to-the-ribs Wisconsin comfort food, including a Reuben, a meatloaf sandwich and Nueske’s liver sausage. The café is one of the few places in town serving that Canadian favorite, poutine, a hearty mix of French fries, cheese curds and gravy fit for any Packers party. (J.L.R.) $. OD. 


SUPPER CLUBS


Alioto’s

3041 N. Mayfair Road

White linen tablecloths and tent-folded claret-colored linen napkins set the supper club ambiance. While the lazy susans have disappeared, a basket of sliced Italian bread and a jar of breadsticks appear on each table. The menu is American comfort food with a distinct Italian accent. Go elsewhere if you’re looking for a la carte (rough translation: “little food, big price”). Dinners come with a choice of soup or salad and in some cases, soup and salad plus dessert. For lighter appetites, sandwiches, including a delicious hamburger, are available. (D.L.) $$. CC. FB. FF. GF. RS. Handicap access. 476-6900


Bass Bay Brewhouse

S79 W15851 Aud Mar Drive, Muskego

Bass Bay Brewhouse is the quintessential supper club that makes you feel as though you stepped back in time to a much simpler life. Its bar and two-room banquet hall has plenty of seating for all the locals and people from the city that want a more casual dining experience with good, fresh food. It has a simple décor of mason jars filled with fresh flowers on the table, low ceilings with wood beams and an attached patio that is enjoyable in warmer weather for sitting out on the bay. Although casual, the service is still top notch and accommodating. (A.M.) $$-$$$. FB. SB. OD. 377-9449


Clifford’s Supper Club

10418 W. Forest Home Ave.

At Clifford’s you’ll experience that winning combination of comfort food and nostalgia. The dark wood paneling, wallpaper and a Formica-topped bar surrounded by bucket seated stools will appeal to patrons who long for days gone by. Clifford’s offers a full complement of classic comfort food with steak, chicken and calves’ liver with onions or bacon. Entrées include soup, salad, relish tray and breadbasket. (S.H.G.) $$. FF. FB. Handicap access. 425-6226


Five O’Clock Steakhouse 

2416 W. State St.

The 5 O’Clock Steakhouse, formerly Coerper’s Five O’ Clock Club, recently passed 70 years as one of Wisconsin’s quintessential supper clubs featuring relish trays, family style salad, charred steaks and great service. In an ever-changing culinary world of small plates, foams, deconstructions, stacks and other trends that come and go, it’s refreshing that you can still find a place for an outstanding steak served up with the same traditions and recipes from decades ago. The décor of multicolored lights, dark wood and Rat Pack music gets you in the mood for the large platters of food pushed on metal carts by impeccably dressed servers. (A.M.) $$$$. CC. RS. FB. 342-3553


Joey Gerard’s

11120 N. Cedarburg Road, Mequon, 262-518-5500

5601 Broad St., Greendale, 858-1900

The Bartolotta Restaurants’ supper club concept has two suburban locations. Start with a lazy susan featuring goodies like cheese, sausage and smoked fish. Beef it up with a cheddar cheese ball, suggesting Wisconsin dining in the 1950s. Steaks and their side dishes dominate the menu, but there are also supper club classics. Both locations are popular, making reservations a must. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. RS. FB. FF (Greendale only). OD (Greendale only).


The Packing House
900 E. Layton Ave.
The Packing House is one of those classic Milwaukee restaurants with top-notch food, pop and jazz in the cocktail lounge, a robust Sunday brunch and a drive-through Friday fish fry option. Service is always professional and even large dinner parties will be served with ease. Steak, rib and seafood lovers will leave satisfied and the famous onion shreds are not to be missed. (L.K.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. FF. LT. 483-5054


Sandra’s on the Park

10049 W. Forest Home Ave.

Open since May 2015, customers have already discovered many reasons to return to this modern version of a supper club. The cozy, comfortable dining room is an inviting space to enjoy a meal. Start with delicious appetizers or salads. If you are dining with others, at least one person should try Sandra’s house specialty barbecue ribs. Slow-cooked for five hours to just the right amount of tenderness, the meat practically falls off the bone. (S.H.G.) $$-$$$. FB. FF. OD. Handicap access. 235-8889


Supper

1962 N. Prospect Ave. 

Supper is proof that everything old becomes new again. Gina Gruenewald, owner of Wolf Peach and now the ultra-cool, modern-yet-retro Supper had a vision for bringing back a supper club, like the kind that gained so much popularity in the 1930s and ‘40s. Your meal starts with complimentary house-made pickled and raw vegetables and their signature rye bread and buttered rolls. It’s not a supper club without a lazy susan and Supper has one of the best. As you move down the menu, the entrées are divided in two lists—even the font is different to distinguish between Classic and Contemporary. (A.M.) $$$-$$$$. FB. RS (6+). V (weekends only). Handicap access. 509-6074


Victor’s 

1230 N. Van Buren St.

It looks like a blast from the ’70s, complete with a disco ball, and while the name continues to conjure up the Average White Band and liaisons from long ago, Victor’s has always had an excellent kitchen. The menu is focused on supper club fare with steak, shrimp de jonghe and chops. Portions are generous, including the Friday fish fry; prime rib smothered with mushrooms is served every day. After 9 p.m., the kitchen closes and the action begins. (D.L.) $$-$$$. CC. FF. FB. 272-2522


THAI


Bangkok House Restaurant

4698 S. Whitnall Ave.

This is the spot for Thai purists. Flavors are less spicy, a bit sweeter and oh so right. The squid is cooked to perfection and the shrimp curry has a sauce made in house. The beef-with-been-sprouts soup is superbly seasoned. Bangkok House is tops for Thai in the area. (J.B.) $$. CC. RS. LB. Handicap access. 482-9838


EE-Sane 

1806 N. Farwell Ave.

The main menu is an extensive list of Thai items with noteworthy options such as the fresh spring rolls and curries with more character than usual. But the more interesting menu focuses on Lao specialties. There are green papaya salads (not vegetarian) and meat salads with names such as larb sok lak, numtok and koi beef. Dishes are spiced on a scale of one to 10. Few dare to venture above seven. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. RS. Handicap access. 224-8284


Elephant Café

1505 N. Farwell Ave.

In Thailand, the elephant with trunk lifted is a symbol of good fortune. So it is with Elephant Café, with a good variety of traditional Thai favorites. The café is a sister restaurant to EE-Sane and has an extensive menu using fresh ingredients including many dishes with ginger and Thai basil. Elephant Café serves pork, steak, chicken and duck, but is a great place for vegetarians. (A.M.) $-$$. CC. FB. RS. 220-9322


Jow Nai Fouquet

1978 N. Farwell Ave.

Jow Nai Fouquet opens on weekends for dine-in and carry-out. Four tables and a broad counter seat perhaps 16 guests. The menu is small and exciting: six starters, three soups, seven curry dishes and seven additional entrees including seafood items, pad Thai, two white and two red wines, a handful of craft beers and Thai iced coffee or tea. The signature dish, red curry, comes with chicken, tofu or additional veggies, all fresh with each taste distinct, served with perfectly cooked jasmine rice. The music is good, the service warm, the clientele interesting and the food delicious and affordable. (J.S.) $-$$. CC. FF. FB. OD. Handicap access. 270-1010


The King & I

830 N. Old World Third St.

One of the first Milwaukee Thai restaurants, The King & I remains a good deal more upscale and a touch more expensive than the more casual-minded Thai eateries that have joined its company. The chic, open layout leaves the kitchen visible from the dining room. The more than 60 menu items include most Thai staples, including noodle dishes and curries as well as some interesting entrées like a yellow curry and mango chicken dish prepared with bell peppers, summer squash and cherry tomatoes. The default flavor of most dishes is mild, making this restaurant a good starter for diners new to Thai cuisine. (E.R.) $$$. CC. RS. FB. LB. OD. 276-4181


Singha Thai 

2237 S. 108th St.

Tables are covered in rich, royal purple linens; entrées are served on blue-and-white hand-painted plates. Singha is the only Thai restaurant in the city that serves hou mok pla: fish filets layered over a bed of Thai basil leaves and cabbage, wrapped and steamed in a fragrant coconut milk curry with undertones of hot pepper. It’s quite unlike anything else on this extensive menu. (J.B.) $$$. CC. LB. RS. Handicap access. 541-1234


Thai Bar-B-Que

3417 W. National Ave.

A photo-intensive menu makes ordering easy at Thai Bar-B-Que, a clean and cozy dining room nestled near several other Asian restaurants on National Avenue. Curry dishes are exceptional here. The traditional red and green curries, served with choice of meat or tofu, are loaded with fresh, colorful vegetables and the aroma of fresh herbs. For something more exotic, try the Thai roasted duck with eggplant, tomatoes and pineapple in a spicy red curry sauce. Service is attentive and refreshingly unrushed, with a loquacious wait staff that chats at length with regulars and newcomers alike. (E.R.) $$. CC. RS. 647-0812


Thai Kitchen 

2851 N. Oakland Ave.

This quiet, homey restaurant with a dozen tables isn’t much to look at but the food is plentiful, inexpensive and authentic. Service is quick and friendly. Curries are the house specialty with red the most popular and massaman a close second, my server said, while the hot jungle curry, free of tempering coconut milk, separates the natives from the tourists. There are seafood and duck entrees, all the expected appetizers and lots of choices for vegetarians. Try the heaping plate of thick veggie pad see-eew—like most of the dishes it also comes with chicken, beef or pork – and a pot brimful of creamy, sweet-spicy ginger tea. (J.S.) $-$$. CC. Handicap access. 962-8851


Thai Lotus

3800 W. National Ave.

The menu at Thai Lotus looks beyond Thailand to include Chinese and Vietnamese specialties like phở and egg foo young. The Thai dishes, some of which can be sampled during a lunch buffet, tend to be spicier than their counterparts at Thai restaurants closer to Downtown. Seafood dishes are a specialty here, with options including curry catfish (lightly fried and served with eggplant and peppers in a ginger-curry sauce), fried squid, shrimp in the shell and scallops. There is also a large selection of bubble teas and smoothies. (E.R). $$. CC. RS. 431-8489


Thai-namite

932 E. Brady St., 837-6280

8725 W. North Ave., 837-6281

The focus is on Thai curries, stir frys and fresh sushi. Thai-namite curry is massaman-style with chunks of beef, potatoes and carrots braised in a rich coconut milk-based curry. Thai-American favorite volcano chicken features a crispy deep fried chicken breast sliced atop a bed of vegetables and served on a hot skillet. The sushi portion of the menu includes nigiri, sashimi and maki, along with sushi bar entrees that come with miso soup and a various assortment of sushi. (L.M.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. RS. Handicap access. 


VEGETARIAN/VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY


Beans & Barley 

1901 E. North Ave.

OK, they are not strictly vegetarian, serving chicken and fish, too. But Beans & Barley has long been Milwaukee’s stalwart for alternative dining and a great place to people watch. The dining room is a striking example of contemporary design. On the way out, stop at the organic deli and grocery. (D.L.) $-$$. CC. OD. SB. Handicap access. 278-7878


Bombay Sweets

3401 S. 13th St.

The setting is spare with white Formica tables and plastic forks and cutlery. But this all-vegetarian East Indian menu is filled with rare and unusual delights. Lemon rice, pakoras, pooris and malai kofta are all recommended. There is also a bakery counter filled with an array of Indian sweets and snacks. (J.B.) $. CC. OD. NA. RS. 383-3553


Café Manna

3815 N. Brookfield Road, Sendik’s Towne Centre

The menu it totally vegetarian and offers raw, gluten-free and vegan options. The produce is organic and sustainable, as are the wines. The menu is seasonally updated but the Café Manna burger is always available. It’s a lentil patty with Jamaican-influenced seasoning. Soups are pleasant, from lentil to refreshing daily creations such as watermelon gazpacho. (J.B.) $$. CC. OD. RS. GF. 262-790-2340


Harvest Café

2205 Silvernail Road, Pewaukee

Located inside the Good Harvest Market natural food store, the café isn’t strictly vegetarian but is a fine place to take in a healthful meal. The menu reads a bit like an Allen Ginsberg poem in its repetition of the word “organic,” but the café’s dedication to clean and healthful ingredients is immediately clear upon your first bite—the food does taste fresher. In addition to a hot bar with daily rotating items and a salad bar, the Harvest Café features local beers on tap. (F.K.R.C.) $-$$. CC. OD. SB. GF. Handicap access. 262-944-9380


Hello Falafel

2301 S. Howell Ave.

Over the last decade-plus, many creative food and drink entrepreneurs have redefined Bay View as a hub of all things foodie. New to the eclectic choice of restaurants is Hello Falafel, the latest endeavor of Odd Duck owners Melissa Buchholz and Ross Bachhuber. The fast-casual eatery packs a lot of homemade flavor into a small menu of salads, falafel entrees, sides, fresh juices and other non-alcoholic drinks. (S.J.) $. CC. GF. Handicap access. 509-5924

 

The Hotch Spot 

1813 E. Kenilworth Place

Nearly every menu item can be made vegetarian or even vegan. That’s way more than many of the establishments in Milwaukee touting themselves as vegetarian friendly, and is especially surprising for a restaurant featuring American fare. The cheese potato sticks, cheese-covered potatoes wrapped in wonton and served with honey mustard, make great appetizers. Then grab a portabella Philly, a Philly cheesesteak but with succulent portabella mushrooms instead of steak, and finish everything with an ice cream sandwich. Keep an eye out for specials like the happy hour with two-for-one appetizers, $2 drafts and more. (J.F.) $-$$. CC. FF. Handicap access. 727-2122


Outpost Natural Foods

100 E. Capitol Drive, 961-2597

7000 W. State St., 778-2012

2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 755-3202

7590 W. Mequon Road, Mequon, 262-242-0426

945 N. 12th St., Aurora Sinai Hospital, 220-9166

1617 W. North Ave., Wellness Commons, 210-4577

Milwaukee’s long-running natural foods co-op (they helped introduce the city to the concept of healthy eating!) has deli and table arrangements at all locations. (D.L.) $. CC. Handicap access.


Riverwest Co-op Grocery & Café 

733 E. Clarke St.

Choose your favorite of the varied coffee cups and fill it from the pot yourself. The coffee’s Anodyne, a local roaster. Everything here’s as local as possible, 100% vegetarian and 98% organic. This is quintessential Riverwest, friendly, laid back, inexpensive; local artwork fills the walls and patrons discuss it. Open all day; just four tables and 11 chairs with sidewalk seating in good weather. Try the creative smoothies, luscious vegan pancakes, “Phamous Philly” and Notorious Barbecue. (J.S.) $. CC. OD. NA. 264-7933


Urban Beets

1401 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

The cozy shop seats a dozen people and has a warm, inviting vive. The menu is at once inviting and imposing; scrawled with excellent penmanship and suspended above the counter, it contains multitudes; breakfast items, entrees, smoothies and juices are all available and made with healthy and, whenever possible, organic ingredients. (F.K.R.C.) $-$$. CC. OD. GF. Handicap access. 800-6265


VIETNAMESE


Hué

2691 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 294-0483

6519 W. North Ave., 585-0577

A sure sign of success in the restaurant business is expansion, especially in terms of new locations being added. Such is the case for Hué, now ensconced in both Bay View and Wauwatosa. Both locations offer a full menu of Vietnamese favorites and you’ll find what you want here served with color and pizzazz. Spring rolls, lemongrass and garlic-marinated beef skewers, chicken, seafood and vegetable curries and, of course, Pho. Hué’s menus are especially eater-friendly, explaining each dish thoroughly. (J.J.) $$. CC. FB. FF. RS (6 or less Bay View; 12 or less Wauwatosa). OD (Wauwatosa only).


Phan’s Garden

1923 W. National Ave.

Phan’s Garden is one of the city’s original Vietnamese restaurants, located on Milwaukee’s near South Side—pretty much ground zero for our burgeoning Asian populace. The menu assembles all the typical Vietnamese favorites—shrimp balls, hot pots, spring rolls and phở. It also has better-known Chinese items for the less adventurous patrons, such as egg rolls and hot and sour soup. A major draw is actually the beverage menu: More than 30 export varieties of beer are offered—all from Vietnam. (J.J.) $-$$. CC. 384-4522


Phở Hải Tuyết I

204 W. Layton Ave.

Phở Hải Tuyết I is one of the most authentically Vietnamese restaurants in the Milwaukee area with one of the biggest menus. Dine-in, order online or by phone and take-out or have your food delivered (if you’re in their neck of the woods). Their service is fast and friendly. The menu is helpfully divided into appetizer, noodle, beef noodle (phở), rice and seafood dish subsections—all the better to quickly zero-in on exactly what your palette desires. In addition to wine and beer, there are lots of Vietnamese sodas, coffees, teas and juices—and several flavors of that delicious Vietnamese thirst-quencher, bubble tea. (J.J.) $-$$. CC. Handicap access. 231-3201


Phở Việt

5475 S. 27th St.

By all means start with an appetizer, from which there are 20 to choose. And true to the restaurant’s name, it offers 19 versions of Vietnam’s signature soup, phở. Entrée items include scrumptious crispy crepes, tracing their roots to French colonial days. The combo platter includes a host of meats on a bed of sticky rice. Phở Việt’s smoothies come in 14 flavors. (J.J.) $-$$. RS. 282-8852


Vietnamese Noodles

1380 W. Mequon Road, Mequon

Vietnamese Noodles is a casual restaurant serving mostly traditional Vietnamese cuisine for dining in and carrying out in Mequon’s Concord Court Plaza. Phở, the beef noodle soup and national dish of Vietnam, is clearly the focal point of the menu. The egg and spring rolls are excellent. Entrées include crispy fried egg noodles with chicken, beef or vegetables. Vietnamese Noodles dabbles in other Southeast Asian favorites including curry chicken, Korean barbecue beef short ribs and pad Thai There are many vegetarian options as well, some of which feature tofu. (K.L.L.) $-$$. CC. Handicap Access. 262-241-1999


Xankia

222 W. Wells St.

Xankia serves delectable Vietnamese sandwiches to please most palates. Offered are tofu, chicken and beef sandwiches/meals, soups, noodle dishes, as well as desserts (lotus cookies and Hmong-style tapioca made fresh daily). Try the vegetarian egg rolls or shrimp spring rolls and roast chicken sandwich for lunch. Equally popular are the beef and meatball phở, shrimp phở, and pork steam buns (as a side). Xankia is perfect for exploring the taste of Vietnam with friends for casual meetings. (Y.O.) $-$$. CC. 817-0241


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