I've been visiting Milwaukee for years, so often that I consider it a second home. When I say I'm visiting Milwaukee some people's eyebrows raise. "Does your family have a farm?" or "People still live there?" What many people don't know about Milwaukee is the wonderful sense of community the city has along with the amazing food culture.
The city is primarily known for its bratwursts, breweries and having the best custard on Earth (not kidding here). You can feel the foodie movement here. There are intimate coffee shops and artisinal shops popping up around the city. The city is bustling with hundreds of activities, places to visit and endless custard scoops just waiting for you to join in. Even though there is a lot going on, Milwaukee still has the small town feel that I adore. It's best to come in the summer as there are a variety of festivals: Greek festival and Summerfest to name two. And don't forget the Wisconsin State Fair.
I'm excited to share more of my MKE adventures and I will be posting more of my favorites soon.
If you're visiting or interested in visiting I hope you fall in love with the city as much as I have.
The Original Pancake House: The Original Pancake House is a chain with locations around the U.S. I prefer this location's cozy environment to the cramped one in Chicago. Charming and quaint, it's a bright and welcoming yellow house filled with pancake goodness. Complete with a gazebo outside for pictures. Everything is delicious but my favorites are: apple pancakes, blueberry pancakes, buckwheat pancakes and corned beef hash.
Breadsmith: Breadsmith is a banana bread game changer as I haven't met a banana bread that I did like. Amazing homemade bread and generous samples, they have more than 20+ kinds of bread and have seasonal ones as well. They now have a location open in Brooklyn, NY.
La Rêve: The Milwaukee destination for macarons and all things French cuisine. Perfect for brunch, lunch, dinner and an evening treat. Pastries are beautifully done and the decor transports you to Paris without really leaving.
Mazo's: More like a mom and pop shop, Mazo's also has great burgers allowing you to customize it as you'd like with a variety of toppings.
Culver's: Home of the famous butter burger and special custards of the day. They also have cheese curds.
Kopp's: Huge burgers and pretty good custard, a perfect summer combination. They stray towards more unique custard flavors like piña colada and watermelon.
Milwaukee Public Market: Milwaukee's Chelsea Market. There are a variety of food vendors, artisans, fresh seafood and really good coffee. I recommend having lunch or dinner (or both) at the St. Paul Fish Company, it's worth the wait. Get their raw oysters and lobster roll. You know you've arrived when you see a giant fish dangling from the ceiling.
Jake's Deli: Known for their corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, it's a different take on the Jewish classics. A little bit spicy, yet oh so tender it's perfect with their pickles and a side of their fries. They currently have three locations in Milwaukee.
Fujiyama: Japanese restaurant with a focus on fresh sushi and hibachi. The sashimi was extremely fresh and they did not skimp on quality or the amount of a particular ingredient. Start off with an iced green tea and kani salad. I recommend all of the sashimi entrees. Try the shiso (perilla leaf) that's served with the sashimi; the flavor complements the fish well.
Balisteri's (Wauwatosa): Family owned, Balisteri's is the perfect locale for lunch or dinner. Get the "everything but the kitchen sink" pizza and conch salad. Come in on Fridays for the Fryday fish fry.
Leon's: Leon's can be summed up in three words. Best. Custard. Ever. Everyone in Milwaukee has their favorite but Leon's is my go-to for real custard. They have special flavors of the day along with their usuals: chocolate, vanilla, butter pecan and awesome sundaes. Chocolate has been my favorite since I was kid.
The Purple Door: They don't have a purple door but they have really good ice cream. They have unique flavors such as Old Fashioned (yes, the drink), dark beer, whiskey, black tea + fig...the list goes on. My favorites are eastside dark beer, chocolate chunk and buttermilk blueberry.
Anodyne Coffee (MKE public market): Intimate counter setting amidst the crowd at the public market. Delicious cold brew with chocolatey, deep-bodied notes.
Colectivo Coffee: Their cold brew is lighter and has fruity notes. Perfect for studying, writing, snacking or breakfast. You can also purchase all their brews and merchandise; the mugs and t-shirts were my favorite.
Third Ward: Milwaukee's historical district is the destination for food and the arts. There are a variety of stores such as Kit and Ace and a denim bar.
Milwaukee Public Market's Outdoor Market: Artisans selling art and jewelry. Only open on Saturdays.
Marshall Building: Home to galleries and boutiques, they have gallery nights and evenings displaying local artisans' works.
Kit and Ace: Cashmere basics that you can wash. From pants to tanks, they have every basic you need. This location also features a local artist each month.
Goodwill (Brookfield): Located a few minutes from The Original Pancake House, this goodwill is perfect after brunch or breakfast. It's not like the Goodwills here in NYC, this one is extremely clean and organized. I nabbed a pair of vintage Levi's for $5 that were $90+ in NYC. If you're petite like me, head over to the boys section for a treasure trove of trousers and denim. They also had a great selection of film cameras that sold for a lot online.
Army & Navy Surplus Sales: An old school surplus store specializing in military garb. It's perfect if you're looking to add a miltary-inspired piece (or two) to your wardrobe. Not much for a petite gal like me, but I loved the bags, pins/patches, hats and old books. I nabbed a book from the 1930s for $3.
MAM: MAM or Milwaukee Art Museum is my favorite museum in the city. It's worth waking up early to see its wings open, it's absolutely beautiful and breathtaking.
Greenfield Farmer's Market: The samples here are huge and it's great to talk one-on-one with the farmers and sellers. They have the sweetest corn and juiciest cantaloupe.
Baylor Melons: The Baylor family is known for selling watermelons directly from their truck in Milwaukee and surrounding cities such as Chicago. Straight from Mississippi the watermelons are huge, juicy and perfect to cool off in the summer heat. From time to time they also sell roasted peanuts. Be sure to check their twitter for their location.
Apple Holler: Located in-between Milwaukee and Chicago, it's the perfect destination for family and foodies alike. Come here for the apple and pumpkin picking then indulge in their homemade breakfast dishes at their restaurant. They're known for their buttermilk pancakes with a special flavor each month. Grab a cup of cider for $1 while exploring the farm. You can also find their stall at the Greenfield Farmer's Market.