Eat, Drink and Be MKE

Who doesn’t love to hear the words “Let’s eat!”

PHOTOS BY LAURA DIERBECK


The Milwaukee region is a diner’s dream — indulging our rumbling stomachs with mile after mile of mouthwatering options to suit every taste, each occasion and any budget. Here, we serve up a sampling of sure-bet spots to pamper your taste buds, quench your thirst and indulge your sense of adventure.

Eat ultra-local at these down-the-block spots.
BY NAN BIALEK

Almost every neighborhood has one. A spot. An ultra-nearby place to go for comforting eats, companionable drinks and friendly faces among both patrons and staff. Whether you’ve claimed your place in these much-loved local institutions for years or are hungry and headed to a new neighborhood, these tasty hangouts are the perfect places to nosh and sip among pals new and old.

<< TomKen’s
West Allis, (414) 258-9110, tomkens.com
Winner, winner!
When the late Ken Felton found himself out of work back in 1991, he decided to join forces with his best friend, Tom Falk, and buy Joyce’s, a corner bar and grill on 80th and Greenfield. The two renamed the joint TomKen’s, but they kept Joyce’s fried chicken recipe to make sure the neighbors would keep on coming back. Because TomKen’s “Friendly Fried Chicken” is quite possibly the best chicken dinner in the civilized world.
Word got out beyond West Allisian borders. And it turns out fried chicken isn’t the only attraction at TomKen’s. On Monday and Thursday Wing Nights, the place teems with customers enjoying their choice of 11 different standard sauces or three rotating special sauces on fried and boneless wings. Order them grilled if you must, health nut.

As for décor, you’ll find Lionel Ritchie dancin’ on the ceiling, a collection of sassy T-shirts for sale and enough vintage chicken memorabilia to make you cluck.

Today, Ken’s daughter, Gina Kowalik, manages the place, while her mom, Michelle, owns it and her brothers, Brian and Brad, keep the conversation lively.

Solly’s Grille
Glendale, (414) 332-8808, sollysbutterburgers.com
You never know who will be sitting next to you when you order a butter burger at one of Solly’s horseshoe-shaped counters — could be a Green Bay Packer, a Milwaukee Buck, former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, your neighborhood mail carrier or a retired pediatrician.

But there’s one thing you can be sure of: Solly’s butter burger is a genuine Milwaukee classic — a 100 percent beef sirloin patty under a blanket of Wisconsin cheese and topped with a glistening crown of pure Wisconsin butter. The burger, to nobody’s surprise, enjoys worldwide acclaim.

“Because Solly’s is 83 years old, we’ve met many people from all over the world,” says owner Glenn Fieber, stepson of founder Ken “Solly” Salmon. “We even had the Japanese Food Channel in here about a year ago.”
The burger is the main draw, but Solly’s handcrafted cherry, strawberry-rhubarb and apple-cinnamon-caramel pies also attract an appreciative crowd. And the breakfast menu has become a magnet for locals who have been spontaneously forming breakfast clubs with their neighbors. Most turn up on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, Fieber says, “and the groups just keep getting larger and larger as more friends join.”

Tenuta’s
Bay View, (414) 431-1014, tenutasitalian.com
No matter what time of year, a majority of “regulars” at Tenuta’s in Bay View walk to the corner eatery on South Clement and Manitoba. Inside, they are welcomed like family and the cozy ambience makes them feel right at home.

Most patrons are people who not only enjoy Italian cuisine, but they prefer to support local businesses, says Tenuta’s manager, Brenden Fuerstenau. One reason for that support is that owner Frank Tenuta is a visible presence in the community, participating in events at nearby Humboldt Park as well as at the neighborhood’s schools and churches.

Tenuta started out with a couple of pizza restaurants in Kenosha before opening the Bay View location in 2003. And while Tenuta’s Bay View started out as a pizza place too (and those pizzas are near perfect), in the last several years it has also established a reputation for tasty pasta dishes, drawing far-flung diners. Regulars love Tenuta’s Bolognese, as well as its mushroom stuffed ravioli with marsala cream sauce, and calabrese, a spicy Italian sausage with giardiniera, peppers and vodka sauce. All pair nicely with a tempting selection of wines, including many Italian grape varietals that, Fuerstenau says, “a lot are unknown to the wider world, and a lot you’ll find only at Tenuta’s.”  

Art*Bar >>
Riverwest, (414) 372-7880
You can’t time-travel back to Paris in the 1920s, when artists, writers, musicians and other Bohemians drank and debated and flirted at the Lapin Agile. You can, however, slip into the Art*Bar in Riverwest, relax and have a drink with a similar sort of eclectic gathering.

Owner Don Krause invented the Riverwest Art*Bar for himself, really, because, as a resident of the neighborhood, he couldn’t find a place where he could feel completely comfortable. “We created a welcoming environment for everyone, and stopped all the stereotypes like ‘sports bar,’ ‘gay bar,’ ‘black bar,’” Krause says.

In that environment, where generations sit side-by-side with their brandy old fashioned sweets and spiked seltzers, an art gallery surrounds them. Krause regularly premiers new art collections, showcasing new talent and seasoned veterans, the work of senior citizens, or paintings by people who otherwise might never have the chance to share it with an appreciative crowd.

Krause’s latest creative venture is the recently opened, high-energy Wonderland restaurant adjacent to Art*Bar, featuring fresh, scratch cooking and locally sourced ingredients. And, of course, the same “everybody in” vibe.

Ted’s Ice Cream & Restaurant
Wauwatosa, (414) 258-5610
Norman Rockwell would probably feel right at home bringing his kids to Ted’s on 62nd and North Avenue. Founded in 1941 by Ted Gottwein, Ted’s is the kind of place that hasn’t changed all that much over the years; the kind of place where you trade corny jokes over an all-American lunch – a burger on a fresh Kaiser roll, fries (or cheese curds!) and a real chocolate malt.

Nearly all Ted’s customers are ‘regulars,’ says current owner Kevin Wadhams. Some are second- and third-generation Ted’s fans.

“I’ve got second — and third-generation employees too,” Wadhams says. “We are truly blessed.”

Customers are loyal because they love the ice cream made in Ted’s back room — fan favorites like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, butter pecan, Oreo, mint and fudge ripple. And it’s not just the flavors; it’s how Ted’s combines them to make a unique treat. Wadhams’ own favorite ice cream concoction, for example, is an Oreo, mint and hot fudge shake.

“It’s just like an Andes candy,” he says. “That’s our answer to that.”

Ted’s is open for breakfast and lunch every day. Wadhams recommends you start the day off with the breakfast special of two eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns and toast or a bagel.

 

<< Lumber Inn
Delafield, (262) 646-8988, lumberinndelafield.com
Raul Perez, owner of Delafield’s much loved Lumber Inn, was just 17 when he started washing dishes in a Waukegan, IL restaurant. He was paid only in meals and the chance to dream.

Eventually, Perez moved on to work in family-style restaurants where he learned to cook and became a chef, taking in the nuances of the culinary world. When he and his family settled in Waukesha, Perez continued to work and save. And work and save. When the Lumber Inn — built on the former site of a lumberyard — went up for sale in 2002, Perez was ready to make his dream come true. He bought the restaurant and made it his own.

Today, the Lumber Inn is a favorite breakfast and lunch spot for Lake Country diners, known for using fresh, often organic ingredients in old-fashioned, country-comfort food. Perez orders nearly a ton of fresh potatoes a week, which are peeled, boiled, sliced by hand and turned into the restaurant’s signature dishes, Chorizo Potatoes, Salsa Verde Potatoes and Piggy Potatoes with ham, sausage and bacon.

Perez says he’s living his dream: “It’s something I have done all my life and I love it,” he says. “There’s nothing else I would like to do.”


Luscious and Late-Night
BY CRAIG MATTSON

Milwaukee is a culinary city, and late-night diners find it just as food-friendly when they’re burning the midnight oil. Whether you are craving a special flavor during the wee hours, or you’ve just been to a show and want to bask in the afterglow with quality food in a great atmosphere, try these local dining spots to satisfy your need for late-night eats that go well beyond the drive-thru.

<< Comet Café
East Side, (414) 273-7677, thecometcafe.com
A local hotspot since its debut in 1995, Comet offers cozy, comforting late-night favorites like meatloaf, multiple mac-and-cheeses, and AJ’s Compact Turkey Dinner, which features beer battered, slow-roasted turkey (it’s also available as a vegan-friendly option). In fact, Comet Café is a haven for vegans seeking original comfort food, no matter the time of day. The décor is contemporary to semi-industrial, with a dark wood bar-top that wraps around the entire inside of the two-room space, making it perfect for a tasty wind-down. Kitchen open until 12 a.m.

Casablanca >>
Milwaukee, (414) 271-6000, Brookfield, (262) 261-6000, casablancaonbrady.com
Casablanca feels as grand as its namesake, which comes from the original owner’s favorite movie. First opened in 1987 on Mitchell Street, the restaurant was named Casablanca three years later and eventually moved to its current Brady Street location. Now run by Nas Mufa, the Casablanca kitchen serves authentic Middle Eastern cuisine in an elegant yet casual atmosphere beloved by devoted regulars and pro sports stars. Satisfy your late-night cravings with classics like beef and chicken kabobs and shawarma, or the comforting Lamb Kifta. Kitchen open until 1 a.m.

Odd Duck
Milwaukee, (414) 763-5881, oddduckrestaurant.com
Drawing diners from across the metro Milwaukee area for its inventive food and drink offerings, Odd Duck divides its menu into four groups — animal, vegetable, cheese and charcuterie. Fresh produce used whole or as purees and smart use of herbs are staples to both meat and vegetarian/vegan options, and menu options constantly evolve based on seasonality, the freshest ingredients available and the creativity of the chef, ensuring your late-night eats are the stuff of foodie dreams. Kitchen open until 12 a.m.

Goodkind
Bay View, (414) 763-4706, goodkindbayview.com
Open since 2014, Goodkind is a cozy but upscale tavern and restaurant located in a comfortable corner of Bay View. Casual but focused on amazing farm–to-table food offerings, Goodkind’s menu selections are based on seasonal, artisanal ingredients that are sourced from a wide array of local producers, so the menu changes often. Goodkind specializes in rotisserie meats — delectable fennel pollen dry brined half chicken, jerk-roasted pork shoulder and sun-dried tomato & olive rubbed leg of lamb — which are always available.Kitchen open until 1 a.m.

Carson’s
Downtown, (414) 223-3311, ribs.com
An upscale dining establishment located near the heart of downtown, Carson’s is the perfect dining spot after a show or a game. Housed on the ground floor of The Moderne, with views of Old World Third Street, the essence of Carson’s is their barbecue and prime steaks, including center cut black angus, NY strip and giant bone-in prime rib. The full menu includes a host of authentic BBQ chicken, baby back ribs and chops that are smoked in a genuine hickory wood-burning pit. Or nibble a selection of apps, such as homemade corn bread and Chargrilled Mediterranean Shrimp. Seating until 10:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Red Light Ramen
East Side, (414) 837-5107, redlightramen.com
Red Light Ramen began its life as Ardent’s late-night weekend alter ego — a pop-up ramen shop that quickly became a funky, late-night tradition for diners on the lower East Side. A restaurant in its own right since 2016, Red Light offers savory, adventurous late-night offerings, plus soothing desserts and their signature boozy slushies that are as much of a draw as the ramen. Kitchen open until 10 p.m. Tuesday and Sunday, 1 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday


Celebrate Sensibly
BY CRAIG MATTSON
MKE mixologists share their favorite mocktails.

The variety of non-alcoholic “mocktails” to be savored across metro Milwaukee is ever expanding, much to the delight of devoted teetotalers, designated drivers and revelers limiting their alcohol consumption. And the booze-free sips are every bit as intriguing as the real deal. We asked mixologists from a few area hot spots to share an alcohol-free tipple available at their establishments and how you can make it at home for holiday celebrations and beyond.

<< It Takes Two to Mango
Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, (414) 383-2620, bryantscocktaillounge.com
This cozy lounge with dim lights and smooth R&B music is a great after-work, date or celebration spot. Mixologist McKenzie Ross recently created It Takes Two to Mango, a sweet and savory beverage made with strawberry, mango and a hint of chili and citrus. Ross calls it a summery drink that people can enjoy in winter to remind them of the warmth that will inevitably return.  

Make it:
2 oz. mango nectar
1 oz. strawberry nectar
½ oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
chili lime powder to taste

Give the mixture two shakes in a shaker. Pour over cubed ice.

Old Fashioned Mocktail
Camp Bar, Locations in Milwaukee, Wauwatosa and Shorewood, campbarmke.com
When people visit Camp Bar, the feeling of being “up north” is palpable. Beyond its relaxed and sociable atmosphere, Camp Bar is known for its top-ranked Old Fashioned cocktail, and managers Jeff Giessel and Tiffany Earley created a savvy, non-alcoholic rendition of that famous drink so everyone can indulge. Cranberry and citrus replace bitters to create the tart notes.

Make it:
In a tumbler glass, muddle a sugar cube, cherry, orange and lemon slice and a splash of white soda
Add:
1 oz. cranberry juice
1/2 oz. orange juice
Top with sweet white soda

Mocktail Mule >>
Bittercube Bar & Bazaar, (414) 367-4477, bittercube.com
Bittercube is a comprehensive beverage company that makes and sells signature bitters as well as other drink products. But their bar is unique in that visitors can book drink-making classes, or stop in any Saturday night for an informal session on how to make a classic cocktail or mocktail beverage. Brandon Reyes, research and development manager, shares a spicy drink with hints of citrus and Bittercube’s tailor-made apothecary brand of ginger beer syrup (which can be mixed with seltzer for a homemade ginger beer). 

Make it:
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 ½ oz. ginger beer syrup  
2 dashes Bittercube Jamaican No.1 bitters
2 ½ oz. seltzer

Combine in a shaking tin and shake vigorously until chilled. Add seltzer to the tin and strain into glass. Add ice and garnish with a fresh lime wedge.

Rose-Berry Smash
Maxie’s, 6732 W. Fairview Ave., (414) 292-3969, maxies.com
Maxie’s is a Southern-inspired neighborhood bar and eatery conveniently located just a block off of I-94. John Buchel, community outreach coordinator for Black Shoe Hospitality, describes Maxie’s signature mocktails as an invitation for people not drinking alcohol to still enjoy a complete dining experience. Try Maxie’s Rose-Berry Smash, a crisp, bubbly beverage with hints of lemon, blueberry and the aroma of rosemary.

Make it:
5 blueberries
Half lemon wheel
Leaves of half a sprig of rosemary
1 tsp. sugar
Pres top (half club soda and half white soda)

Add all ingredients to a highball glass and muddle. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into tub glass and add ice. Top with Pres mixture and stir to combine. Garnish with the rosemary sprig, lemon slice and additional blueberries on a skewer.

<< Mock Toddy
I.d., 415 Genesee Street, Suite 1, Delafield; (262) 404-6308, iddelafield.com
For Lake Country diners and beyond, I.d. in Delafield is a must for inspired drinking and dining. The space’s inviting and innovative design makes it a great spot for sampling seasonal craft cocktails and mocktails. The Mock Toddy, made with the winter season in mind, is a rich, non-alcoholic version of the Hot Toddy, featuring pear nectar, cider and butter.


Make it:
16 oz. pear nectar
1 Tbsp. pie spice mix
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
6 oz. cider or water

Bring pear nectar and spice mix to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 min., remove cover and reduce by half. Meanwhile, brown unsalted butter in a separate pan.
Pour nectar mixture into a heat-proof jar or glass container and add cooked brown butter.
Cover and let stand for 8 hours. Do not shake.
Place the mixture in the freezer for about 30 minutes or until the butter has separated. Use a spoon to lift away the butter solids.
 
To serve add 1.5 oz of the mixture to 6 oz. hot water or cider


Cooking With Fire(fighters)!
BY NAN BIALEK

 
Jason Katz Brandon Leonard

Brandon Leonard and Jason Katz aren’t just first responders in their communities, they’re also first on the scene when their fellow firefighters’ stomaches are growling.

Leonard, who serves at the West Milwaukee firehouse, and Katz, a North Shore firefighter stationed in Whitefish Bay, have each earned their chops as firehouse chefs.

Leonard joined the Milwaukee Fire Department when he was just 18 years old through the Fire Cadet program. At the time, he says he could rustle up eggs and “maybe spaghetti.” Helping his firehouse chef — “a fancy gourmet cook,” Leonard explains, — ignited his kitchen skills. Leonard wrote down the chef’s shopping secrets and cooking techniques, and soon he had a binder full of gourmet goodness. When Leonard was assigned to another firehouse several years later, his peers were impressed with his skills and requested that he be their regular cook.

Firehouse Food Rules

•    Firefighters pay for their own firehouse food. Leonard’s peers contribute $15 per day to cover lunch and dinner.
•    Shop at the closest grocery store to the fire station, just in case a call comes in.
•    If a call comes in when cooking, turn off the stove, extinguish the grill, and go! The meal may be ruined, but lives could be saved.

One day, Leonard volunteered to fill in for a firefighter at the “big house” on 7th and Wells in downtown Milwaukee, where the deputy chief and battalion chief were working. Their regular cook was off, as well, so Leonard also volunteered to make lunch. The menu included baked ziti with marinara sauce and garlic bread, as well as grilled chicken breast with baked zucchini and squash topped with mozzarella cheese. For an encore, he created a dinner of marinated, grilled tenderloin and a Thai stir-fry with shrimp, asparagus, broccoli and mushrooms.

“Half a year later, my name was on the transfer list,” Leonard says, noting he had not requested the move. He was reassigned to the “big house,” where the chief himself named Leonard the cook.

Katz says he does not have a particular specialty, but he loves to cook Asian-inspired dishes. His peers most often request his version of Volcano Chicken.

“It’s a spinoff of the Volcano Chicken at the King and I in Milwaukee, since I have no clue how they actually make theirs,” he explains. “It consists of individual battered and fried chicken thighs, a fairly elaborate soy-based sauce, shredded carrots and sautéed red cabbage served over rice.”

Katz learned much about cooking in his mother’s kitchen, but he picked up practical skills as a high school intern with the fire service where he “found myself in the kitchen with a couple of the regular cooks,” carefully watching and learning. Cooking shows and good ol’ trial and error have bolstered his skills set too.

Neither Katz nor Leonard is too proud to admit to the occasional kitchen disaster. Katz’s first pass at cauliflower pizza crust, for example, did not go to plan.

“It was a miserable attempt and a glorious fail,” he recalls. “Did you know that you have to wring as much liquid out of the cauliflower as possible? It was a giant, sloppy mess of goo on a pan.”

Leonard unwittingly combined his cooking and firefighting skills when he tried to deep-fry some food in olive oil, filling the firehouse kitchen with smoke. And he won’t soon forget the time he accidentally reversed the instructions on a cookie recipe, adding one cup of salt and one tablespoon of sugar to the dough.

“The guys got me good for that,” he laughs.


Meat Me Here
BY JENNA KASHOU
Are you a devoted carnivore who salivates at the sound of steak hitting the grill? Do you like your brisket with a side of bacon? Here are five meaty eateries to satisfy your cravings.

<< Ash
Walker’s Point, (414) 831-4677, theironhorsehotel.com
The crackling, open hearth is the centerpiece of this dimly lit, cozy spot. Ash is the new concept from popular chefs Dan Van Rite and Dan Jacobs of DanDan and Fauntleroy, located inside the Iron Horse Hotel. Chefs are on display preparing both shareable bites and entrees over the open fire. Two of Van Rite’s favorites are the whole Pekin duck and the bone-in short ribs. The impossibly tender soy-ginger bavette steak is also a winner.

Bavette La Boucherie
Mequon, (262) 236-9535 third ward, (414) 273-3375, bavettelaboucherie.com
Bavette’s James Beard nominated chef and owner Karen Bell sources all of her meats from local farms and butchers on-site for both retail sales and her mouthwatering plated creations. The casual, yet refined spot serves up sandwiches, salads and sharable plates with the corned beef tongue reuben and the zippy Cuban topping the list of favored sammies.

Carnevor
Downtown, (414) 223-2200, carnevor.com
There are steakhouses and supper clubs, and then there is true luxury dining for meat fans at Carnevor. SURG Restaurant Group’s playground for meat eaters offer various cuts of wet and dry-aged USDA prime beef and the crème-de-la-creme Japanese Wagyu, but the filet mignon remains a favorite. Chef Mario Guiliani sources other cuts from the group’s own Hidden Creek Farm.

Smoke Shack >>
Third Ward and Wauwatosa, (414) 431-1119, smoke-shack.com
Milwaukee’s very own version of hometown BBQ is dry rubbed, slow smoked, humanely raised and made in small batches. Sauce to your liking with five house-made, regional creations at every table. If you’re prone to indecision and your gut can handle it, try all the meats for $50: baby back ribs, spare ribs, brisket, hot link, pulled pork and Amish chicken.

<< Vanguard
Bay View, (414) 539-3593, vanguardbar.com
Vanguard serves house-made sausages in every style imaginable and topping combos to make a meat-lover swoon. Creative international options are the Laotian Hoo Kee Phed, Serbian lamb and pork Milan Cevapi and the Thai Breaker with peanut sauce. There’s even a sausage named after Milwaukee’s favorite Greek Freak, Giannis. If sausage isn’t your thing, stop in Mondays for popcorn pork belly, then come back Tuesday for Italian beef.


Meatless Miracles
Who says meatless is only for Mondays? Even if you’re not veg or vegan-only, these local spots make meatless meals a pleasure, not an obligation — and offer great options to temper the inevitable holiday gluttony.
BY JENNA KASHOU


Beerline Café
Brewer’s Hill, Crossroads Collective, (414) 265-5644, beerlinecafe.com
Beerline Café proves that casual gourmet can be nutritious, filling and accessible to all. Order off the menu or customize your own creation. The “cromlette,” a beautiful marriage of crepe and omelet is a brilliant concept. And the lentil sweet potato wrap with a spicy Ethopian berbere blend is a perfect pick for the more adventurous eater.

Celesta
East Side, (414) 231-3030, celesta.restaurant
This globally inspired vegan restaurant serves brilliant versions of flavorful comfort food favorites like a turkey club, lasagna and chicken and waffles using local soy and seitan products. The satisfying Southern Plate and spicy Bang Bang Broccoli are solid options for sampling that could satisfy even the most devout meat-eaters.  

<< Café Manna
Brookfield, (262) 790-2340, cafemanna.com
One of the area’s first all-vegetarian restaurants, Café Manna has been a mainstay for the past 11 years and makes an ideal brunch spot for veg lovers. The vegan crab cakes, coconut curry Peace Bowl and spicy cashew cauliflower are constant favorites. Their extensive menu also appeals to those following a gluten-free or raw diet.

Strange Town
East Side, (414) 885-0404, strangetownmke.com
There’s nothing strange about the popularity of this intimate, plant-based bistro, which makes grains and vegetables the stars of their internationally inspired, vegan dishes. The menu changes weekly to make the most seasonal availability and the chef’s inspirations. Artful cocktails, natural wines, weekly DJs and arguably the best hummus plate on the planet make this an East Side must.  

Urban Beets Cafe & Juicery  >>
Milwaukee, (414) 800-6265, Wauwatosa, (414) 763-7034, urbanbeetscafe.com
Fresh juices and artful bowls and handhelds make this charming café an ideal spot for healthy dining no matter what side of town you’re on. Favorites include the poké bowl with pickled veggies, the chickpea “chicken” salad, cauliflower bahn mi and the classic burger made from nuts and beans. Plenty of options for kids make this a great spot for families embracing a plant-based diet.

Wonderland
Riverwest, (414) 372-7880
Four years in the making and adjacent to the neighborhood’s beloved Art*Bar, Wonderland offers fresh and filling options for every diner in your crew. The Wally Bowl — a hearty mix of brown and wild rice, quinoa, kimchi, roasted red potatoes, avocado and arugula — warms both stomach and soul. Make it vegan by skipping the kimchi or add chicken, shrimp or salmon for larger appetites.


Unique Eats
BY LAUREN SIEBEN
We get it. It’s easy to get into a restaurant rut, heading to your favorite spots and ordering the same old thing. Ready for something completely different? Try these unexpected eats from across the Milwaukee region.

<< The Cheel
Thiensville, (262) 236-9463, thecheel.com
What does Nepalese cuisine taste like? Thanks to Thiensville’s The Cheel, you don’t need to travel 8,000 miles to find out. Enjoy a taste of the Himalayas and order the Bandel Roganjosh: Boar shoulder braised and simmered in cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and served atop a bed of saffron basmati rice.

Chef Paz
West Allis, (414) 327-1600, chefpazrestaurant.com
This West Allis eatery’s Inka Paella is not your average rice dish. Seafood is the star of this Spanish-inspired entree peppered with Peruvian flavors, featuring sautéed shrimp, calamari and mussels seasoned with “secret spices.”

La Merenda
Milwaukee, (414) 389-0125, lamerenda.com
A National Aveneue staple, La Merenda serves sharable plates that appeal to palates from all across the globe, including Jamaica. If you think you’re more of a goat cheese person than a goat meat person, think again. The tasty Jamaican Goat Curry is a spicy braised goat dish served with roasted sweet and russet potatoes and grilled pineapple chutney.

Sabor Tropical >>
Bay View, (414) 988-8030, sabortropicalmke.com
The Mofongo Rellenos at Bay View’s Sabor Tropical might be the closest you can get to a beach in Puerto Rico without ever leaving Southeast Wisconsin. Mashed fried green plantains come served in a wooden pilon and stuffed with your protein of choice (chicken, shrimp, fish or lobster), then cooked in a creole sauce and stopped with pork skins and cilantro.

Funky Fresh Spring Rolls
Milwaukee, (414) 732-1531, funkyfresh.kitchen
Spring rolls for breakfast? Why not! In addition to breakfast rolls with traditional fillings like scrambled egg and sausage, Funky Fresh Spring Rolls in the Sherman Phoenix also makes a Shiitake Bacon Breakfast Roll with seasoned shiitake mushrooms that are rumored to taste just like bacon — a unique treat for herbivores and carnivores alike.

Drift
Milwaukee, (414) 651-8445, driftmke.com
Drift food truck puts some of the Southern hemisphere’s most popular cuisine within reach. The Afghan Biscuit, a traditional New Zealand cookie, will satisfy your sweet tooth: It’s made with cornflakes and cocoa powder and topped with chocolate icing and walnut.


Eat the Week
BY LAUREN SIEBEN

Wisconsin is famous for our Friday fish fry, but with minimal effort (and maximum payoff!), you can feast on local daily specials that fill your belly without emptying your wallet, in your neighborhood and beyond.

Pizza Monday
Surviving Monday is tough enough without having to cook when you finally make it home. Reward yourself with Chicago-style pies at Pizza Man in Milwaukee, Tosa and Oak Creek, where deep dish is served every Monday until they run out (pro tip: bottles of wine are also half off). If you’re feeding a crowd — or you’re just starving, no judgment — head to the East Side’s Divino for buy one, get one pizzas. The special is good for any size pie with any toppings.

<< Taco Tuesday
With locations in Riverwest, Bay View and Mequon, it’s easy to get your frugal Taco Tuesday fix at Café Corazón. Enjoy $2 tacos with drink specials that include $5 margaritas and half-price beer and wine. For a taco destination off the beaten path, head to Las 7 Estrellas in Bay View for $2 tacos with no limits — choose any toppings and any protein. In addition to standard selections like chicken and steak, you can also indulge your adventurous side and fill your shells with tripe, beef tongue and beef head.

Wing Wednesday
Don’t let the pocketsize kitchen at downtown’s Club Garibaldi fool you. This corner bar serves up big flavor with its locally famous wings. Stop in on Wednesday for wings at a bargain price of 65 cents each. Points East Pub claims to have the most delicious wings not just in Milwaukee, but in the whole state — try them for yourself to decide. Bonus: On Wednesday, you can wash them down with select 2-buck bottles of beer.

Thirsty Thursday
Moscow Mule lovers can enjoy multiple incarnations for just $7 a mug at Von Trier’s popular Mule Night. For penny-wise cocktails with a smooth side of jazz, head to Transfer Pizzeria Café for $5 martinis on Thursdays, when the pizza joint turns into a lounge featuring live music.

Friday Fish Fry >>
Throw a stone and you’ll hit a local spot with a top-notch fish fry. It’s what Wisco does best. In Lake Country, fry fans head for Stolley’s Hogg Alley, where classic cod options share the menu with perch, blue gill and walleye, plus trusty, traditional sides like German potato salad, potato pancakes, rye bread and slaw. In Wauwatosa and Bay View, Hue Restaurant in serves its fry with a Vietnamese spin. Beer-battered swai gets a turmeric kick and comes served with fried rice and Asian slaw.

Saturday Steak
Saddle up to the bar at Swingin’ Door Exchange on a Saturday night to take advantage of the steak special: New York strip served with your choice of side, plus seasonal vegetables and garlic bread, for $14.95. And while prime rib isn’t technically considered a steak, if you’re craving its tender, juicy flavor, head to The Wicked Hop after 5 p.m. on Saturday for a prime rib special that’s served with plenty of au jus for dipping.

Sunday Brunch
Tucked into Bay View’s Avalon Theater, Mistral is an under-the-radar restaurant with an upscale take on brunch. Start the day with a wild mushroom omelet with Boursin cheese and truffle butter sauce, or try a hash made with duck confit and root vegetables and topped with sunny-side-up eggs. Brunch feels more like a staycation at Downtown’s Café at the Plaza. True to its name, this café within the Plaza Hotel features a picturesque courtyard and a diverse breakfast menu, with classics like the Plaza Benedict and corned beef hash served alongside pork belly empanadas and breakfast poutine. MKE







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