50 BEST RESTAURANTS
THE MILWAUKEE AREA'S TOP DINING ESTABLISHMENTS,
AS CHOSEN BY OUR EDITORS
COPY BY SYDNEY PURPORA | PHOTOS BY DAVID SZYMANSKI
|50 Best Restaurants*|
25. Lagniappe Brasserie
26. Lazy Susan
46. Twisted Willow
50 Best Restaurants by Neighborhood
315 E. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 369-3683
1751 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 897-7022
179 W. Wisconsin Ave., Pewaukee, (262) 691-0200
Artistry and food unite at this Lake Country restaurant, offering inventive dishes and panoramic views of Pewaukee Lake.
INSIDER TIP: Order the smoked pork and peach flatbread to start, and then round out your meal with an “adult” milkshake made with bourbon, Sassy Cow Creamery vanilla ice cream and house-made chocolate chip cookies.
606 N. Genesee St., Delafield, (262) 303-5066
Locally sourced ingredients and fresh, simple flavors define this cozy yet chic eatery. Brunch is served every Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. too.
INSIDER TIP: A delectable combination of chicken, brie cheese, fig jam, bacon and mustard, the chicken batard sandwich is our go-to dish when visiting downtown Delafield.
600 S. Sixth St., (414) 488-9146
Housed within Hotel Madrid in Walker’s Point, Bodegón is a fine-dining restaurant that celebrates Spanish cuisine.
INSIDER TIP: Adventurous diners will find their place here, as Bodegón’s menu includes bone marrow, whole-roasted suckling pig, and more.
1101 S. Second St., (414) 212-8843
As one of Milwaukee’s first farm-to-table restaurants, Braise’s chefs highlight slow-grown, natural foods in every dish they serve.
INSIDER TIP: Order the steamed pork buns — a Braise mainstay, despite the restaurant’s ever-changing menu.
801 N. Cass St., (414) 277-1111
This American-style, corner-bistro restaurant serves unique and approachable dishes — each made from scratch with fresh ingredients.
INSIDER TIP: The steamed mussels are some of the city’s best, as is the Maine-style lobster roll.
3815 N. Brookfield Road, Brookfield, (262) 790-2340
Vegan and vegetarian fare is the name of the game at Café Manna, Wisconsin’s first certified-green restaurant.
INSIDER TIP: Loaded with creamy guacamole and drizzled with ancho-cashew sour cream, the potato skins are a must-order appetizer.
718 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 223-2200
Long revered as one of Milwaukee’s premier steakhouses, Carnevor specializes in prime cuts, including Allen Brothers prime steaks, but offers savory seafood options too.
INSIDER TIP: Don’t skimp on the toppings and sauces, which vary from a shitake brandy reduction to Wisconsin blue cheese butter with Nueske’s bacon.
The Cheel / Bheda Shank
105 S. Main St., Thiensville, (262) 236-9463
A native of Nepal, chef/owner Barkha Daly and her husband, co-owner Jesse, deliver fresh, authentic cuisine inspired by Nepal and the Himalayas.
INSIDER TIP: The lentil wrap is a M staff favorite, as are the lamb dumplings.
808 E. Center St., (414) 455-3751
A staple in the Riverwest community, the Italian café offers a relaxed atmosphere and classic dishes with a simple spin on traditional flavors.
INSIDER TIP: For an immersive experience, step outside to the beautiful garden patio and sample the homemade gnudi.
1100 S. First St., (414) 431-9271
A Milwaukee native, chef/owner Thomas Hauck serves up locally sourced proteins, from short ribs and duck to veal tenderloin and steak tartare, with a fresh, innovative twist. The five-course tasting menu is a diner favorite too.
INSIDER TIP: Plunge your fork into the lamb served three ways, and then order the sinfully good whatchamacallit for dessert.
839 S. Second St., (414) 645-2606
Chef/owner Peggy Magister was one of the first Milwaukee area restaurateurs to bring farm-to-table dining to Cream City, and she continues to deliver inventive plates made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
INSIDER TIP: While each entree shines in its own right, the jasmine rice, which accompanies the crazy shrimp, is superbly yummy too.
1721 W. Canal St., (414) 847-7883
Housed within Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, Dream Dance Steak prepares its steaks with beef sourced regionally. The wine list selection tops 600 varietals too.
INSIDER TIP: An unexpected steakhouse gem, the Wisconsin cheese curd fritters are mouthwateringly good.
The Fitz at the Ambassador Hotel / Fried Chicken and Waffles
2308 W. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 345-5015
Husband and wife duo Jason and Jennifer Gorman serve up American-style dishes with an edge at this newly reimagined restaurant housed within the Ambassador Hotel.
INSIDER TIP: For a heartier meal, order the fried chicken and waffles served with Korean chili maple syrup and pickled cucumber salad.
W62 N238 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, (262) 375-2655
Located on the south end of Cedarburg in a 150-year-old stone farmhouse, Farmstead is a steakhouse done the right way, with many cuts topped with a signature smashed garlic glaze.
INSIDER TIP: While known for its steaks, Farmstead’s juicy burgers are tasty too.
2457 S. Wentworth Ave., (414) 763-4706
Tucked away on a quiet Bay View corner, Goodkind specializes in rotisserie meats, locally sourced produce and house-made cocktails.
INSIDER TIP: The beloved neighborhood spot is open late, serving dinner until 1 a.m. daily.
550 N. Harbor Drive, (414) 395-4900
With a seafood-focused menu and unbeatable views of Lake Michigan and the downtown skyline, the lakefront restaurant oozes classic style with a romantic twist.
INSIDER TIP: Stop in during happy hour — 4-6 p.m., Monday through Friday — for $8 mussels and $10 tuna tartare.
I.d. / Butterscotch Pot
415 Genesee St., Delafield, (262) 646-1620
With an open-concept kitchen and a menu filled with unconventional pairings, I.d. brings innovative, small-plate dining to Lake Country.
INSIDER TIP: Creamy and silk with a touch of saltiness, the butterscotch pot is go-to dessert order.
21445 W. Gumina Road, Pewaukee, (262) 781-7995
Established nearly 60 years ago, Jake’s is a classic, American-style steakhouse with a dually refined and rustic feel.
INSIDER TIP: Jake’s Monday night special is not to be missed: For just shy of $15, patrons can enjoy a tenderloin or rib-eye steak with a choice of potato or onion rings.
6030 W. North Ave., (414) 727-6161
A globally influenced, new-American restaurant, Executive Chef Darin Yenter brings unexpected flavor to each dish.
INSIDER TIP: Sink your teeth into the pear and Gorgonzola flatbread pizza, or satisfy your sweet tooth with the warm brownie sundae topped with Purple Door’s salted caramel ice cream.
125 E. National Ave., (414) 389-0125
La Merenda — or “early snack” in Italian — is a tapas restaurant, and there’s no shortage of shareable plates made with locally sourced ingredients on the menu.
INSIDER TIP: Try the Argentinian-style beef prepared on a bead of chimichurri, mashed plantains and walnuts, or for a vegetarian option, the patatas bravas are a diner favorite.
Le Rêve Patisserie & Café / Canard Au Bourguignon
7610 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa, (414) 778-3333
Once a 100-year-old bank, this lively French bistro serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner, or stop in for a delectable house-made pastry or dessert.
INSIDER TIP: The café is closed Sundays, but you can still enjoy brunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
3133 E. Newberry Blvd., (414) 962-6300
Situated atop Milwaukee’s lakefront bluffs, this elegant French restaurant woos guests with culturally inspired plates.
INSIDER TIP: Grab a spot at the bar and sip a glass of French champagne as you munch on frites with garlic aioli.
17001 W. Greenfield Ave., New Berlin, (262) 782-7530
Branding itself as “French cuisine with a twist,” this New Berlin eatery boasts a menu that changes daily, plus thoughtful accompaniments like house-grown herbs.
INSIDER TIP: The duck breast entree is a consistent favorite among guests, as is the juicy cheeseburger.
2378 S. Howell Ave., (414) 988-7086
Lazy Susan’s menu is filled with shareable plates served as they’re ready, and Sunday brunch service includes gluten-free options like blueberry ricotta pancakes and sweet potato latkes.
INSIDER TIP: Pop in on Tuesday nights for the dinner-for-two special, which includes four courses for $40.
5921 W. Vliet St., (414) 323-4030
This newly opened, privately owned restaurant boasts a modern twist on classic French cuisine. At its helm is Executive Chef Michael Quinn, a Milwaukee Area Technical College culinary arts graduate.
INSIDER TIP: The mussels here are quite good, and, true to French culture, served with crunchy grilled baguette and sauce du jour.
425 E. Mason St., (414) 298-3131
Opened in 2007, this American style restaurant, specializing in meat dominant plates served with classic side dishes, offers a high-end yet relaxed atmosphere throughout the dining experience.
INSIDER TIP: Tap your toes to live jazz music six days a week in the restaurant’s bar area, or watch the kitchen staff in action as you dine at the newly opened chef’s counter.
240 E. Pittsburgh Ave., (414) 645-0240
Menus change seasonally at Merriment Social, but certain favorites — like the over-the-top burgers and their creative toppings — remain.
INSIDER TIP: Merriment Social lives up to its name for brunch every Sunday, when the restaurant transforms into a lively, go-to spot for social gatherings among friends.
430 S. Second St., (414) 897-0747
Farm-to-table dishes — many of which feature a mushroom varietal — define this cozy yet upscale restaurant.
INSIDER TIP: Start with the chef’s choice charcuterie board, then order the savory beef short rib entrée served with bacon, celery root, braised red cabbage, horseradish and beef jus.
524 S. Second St., (414) 224-5300
Inspired by the food and drink of Spain, Movida offers traditional Spanish tapas and cocktails, including paella, croquetas and house-made sangria.
INSIDER TIP: Topped with quail yolk and a drizzle of truffle oil, the beef tenderloin tartare is a must-order.
18380 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield, (262) 790-7005
With two Milwaukee area locations, this classically decorated, Italian-style steakhouse specializes in wood-fired steaks and chops.
INSIDER TIP: For dessert, sink your spoon into the Brazilian flan served with warm rum caramel sauce and topped with fresh berries.
704 S. Second St., (414) 243-4997
A menu that changes daily and quite possibly the coziest, most charming dining and bar area around can be found at The Noble, a Walker’s Point gem.
INSIDER TIP: Although the menu changes daily, diners can expect poultry, beef and pescatarian- and vegetarian-friendly dishes each night. Portion sizes are quite large, so consider sharing an entree or two to sample more of the menu.
2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 763-5881
Specializing in small plates and sharable dishes made with local ingredients, many of Odd Duck’s plates include global influences too.
INSIDER TIP: Snag a seat on the back patio and nibble on a charcuterie board. Don’t miss the house-made chicken liver mousse.
122 E. Capitol Drive, Hartland, (262) 369-3939
Located in the Historic Cobblestone Inn in downtown Hartland, Palmer’s is an American-style steakhouse, complete with old-school, vintage charm and an impressive wine list.
INSIDER TIP: Before diving into a sauteed-mushroom-topped steak, order the homemade shredded onion rings to start.
2300 Pilgrim Square Drive, Brookfield, (262) 784-7275
Parkside 23 takes the farm-to-table dining experience quite literally. Its kitchen staff grows many ingredients in an on-site garden, and the menu is then inspired by its seasonal bounty.
INSIDER TIP: Grab a spot on the outdoor patio and enjoy the flavorful stuffed peppers. (You won’t even realize they’re meat free.)
411 E. Mason St., (414) 225-3270, and
Located in downtown Milwaukee and Brown Deer, this traditional French bistro strives to use fresh, locally ingredients in every dish.
INSIDER TIP: If you’re looking to expand your taste buds, order the deep-fried frog legs with remoulade.
Ristorante Bartolotta / Farro and Seafood Salad
7616 W. State St., Wauwatosa, (414) 771-7910
The first-ever restaurant by brother Paul and Joe Bartolotta, Ristorante Bartolotta serves authentic Italian cuisine in a cozy yet refined atmosphere.
INSIDER TIP: Ristorante imports products directly from Italy, but other standout menu ingredients, like the house-made ricotta and hand-made potato gnocchi, are just as authentically tasty too.
1547 N. Jackson St., (414) 276-9608
Formerly owned and operated by James Beard Award winner Sandy D’Amato, Sanford Restaurant — and its famously inventive menu and intimate atmosphere — is a Milwaukee institution.
INSIDER TIP: The surprise tasting menu, which includes seven courses and is served Monday through Friday only, is worth its $89 price tag.
The Stilt House / Bacon Brie Burger
W62 N630 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, (262) 618-4889
Located on the shores of Cedar Creek, this American-style bar and restaurant serves up both small and large plates, with an impressive tap beer list to boot.
INSIDER TIP: A lighter yet tasty indulgence, the grilled romaine salad with applewood bacon and Parmesan cheese is a M staff favorite.
5100 W. Bluemound Road, (414) 539-4424
The BKC is Story Hill’s name stands for “bottle, kitchen, cocktail,” and the Milwaukee area serves up quality fare inspired by the Upper Midwest — and with a sophisticated, globally influenced technique too.
INSIDER TIP: Story Hill’s happy hour menu, served from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, is extensive, with the loin bacon flatbread and avocado toast topping our must-order list.
1962 N. Prospect Ave., (414) 509-6074
Owner Gina Gruenewald of Wolf Peach fame opened Supper in the former Shorecrest Hotel, offering guests a modern take on a traditional, American-style supper club.
INSIDER TIP: Enjoy 2-for-1 old-fashioned and gimlets, plus light bites like $7 mussels and $5 heirloom tomato crostini, during happy hour, weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m.
724 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 323-7434
Seafood is the name of the game at Third Coast Provisions, where chargrilled oysters, raw and chilled shellfish and crudo dominate the extensive menu.
INSIDER TIP: Bite into an updated, home-style classic with the lobster pot pie. The dish is served with seasonal vegetables mushrooms and topped with black truffle butter.
Tofte's Table / Braised Pork Belly
331 Riverfront St., Waukesha, (262) 408-5633
Husband and wife duo and owners Jason and Cristina Tofte deliver high-quality comfort food and seasonally inspired cuisine in a warm, inviting atmosphere.
INSIDER TIP: Save room for dessert: The sticky toffee pudding is unlike any other dish we’ve sampled in Milwaukee, and truly not one to be missed.
200 N. Broadway, (414) 291-3971
Located within the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel, this Mediterranean-inspired restaurant is helmed by Chicago restaurant veteran and “Top Chef” alum Heather Terhune.
INSIDER TIP: Munch on the crispy, pork belly wood-fired pizza or the charred octopus. Both dishes are bursting with fresh, salty flavor.
308 N. Franklin St., Port Washington, (262) 268-7600
Many of Twisted Willow’s dishes feature produce hand-picked from the restaurant’s nearby garden, and meats and cheeses are sourced from regional farms.
INSIDER TIP: Order a lighter, small-plate appetizer to share, and then plunge your fork into the signature, melt-in-your-mouth crab cakes for the main course.
S42 W31320 Highway 83, Genesee Depot, (262) 968-4281
Located just south of Lake Country, The Union House encapsulates old-school Wisconsin charm. The restaurant's history dates back more than 125 years, ensuring a warm and intimate dining experience, and its menu promises elevated supper club-esque fare, from char-grilled New York strip steak to French onion soup triple-topped with ooey, gooey cheeses.
INSIDER TIP: The baked brie in puff pastry is synonymous with melt-in-your-mouth goodness — trust us.
1818 N. Hubbard St., (414) 374-8480
This rustic, European-inspired restaurant offers a unique approach to small plate dishes — and a panoramic view of the downtown skyline too.
INSIDER TIP: The wood-fired pizzas are affordable and shareable, and often topped with produce or herbs from the restaurant’s on-site garden.
741 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 225-0000
1515 W. Mequon Road, Mequon, (262) 241-5990
With two Milwaukee area locations, Zarletti sticks to tradition by offering Italian-style dishes curated from recipes passed down through generations.
INSIDER TIP: Dig your fork into the house-made, stuffed pasta of the day. Gluten-free pasta is also available.
130 E. Capitol Drive, Hartland, (262) 367-3333
Chef/owner Michael Feker brings a globally-inspired menu, complete with his takes on various cuisine found worldwide, to downtown Hartland.
INSIDER TIP: Sink your teeth into the grilled Black Angus beef tenderloin served over crunchy onion strings. The dish is smothered in a French-style compound butter that will appease even the pickiest of taste buds.