Food & Drink

The 14 Best Brunches in Milwaukee

Published On 03/17/2015 Published On 03/17/2015
Courtesy of Joe Sorge/Smoke Shack

It's no secret that Milwaukeeans love carbs and meat and therefore love brunch. And it's a great excuse to spend Sunday morning (aka Sunday late afternoon) downing Bloody Marys and any food that can be doused in syrup. Here are the best 14 brunch options in Milwaukee worth marking down for Easter, Mother’s Day, or any weekend you just feel the need to overindulge.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

Stuffed French Toast, Mad Greek Yogurt in a pineapple half

Mad Rooster Cafe

Address and Info

West Milwaukee

Restaurants that are only open until early afternoon mean you can get brunch any day of the week, and that’s a good thing when there’s always a wait on Sundays. This relative newcomer to the brunch scene makes everything from scratch, including Greek yogurt and jams. Stuffed French Toast is heavy with Bavarian-custard filling and cream-cheese glaze. Luckily there's some fresh fruit added to offset the gazillion calories.

Courtesy of Cory Zimmermann/Pfister

The buffet

Harbor House

Address and Info

Juneau Town

The Pfister Hotel is where you go to brunch when you want to impress someone who prefers a subdued, classy affair (read: your grandma). It’s buffet-style, so you can load up your plate with cold peel-and-eat shrimp, a made-to-order omelette, carved roast beef, egg salad, and a brownie, artfully mixing dishes as you see fit.

Courtesy of Holly Leitner/Simple Cafe

Korean BBQ Breakfast Bowl or Turkey, Brussels Sprouts, & Butternut Squash Hash

Simple Cafe

Address and Info

Lower East Side

Korean for brunch? Yup, especially when you're digging into one of Simple's most popular items, the Korean BBQ Breakfast Bowl. Non-traditional brunch ingredients like Korean braised pork, tons of veggies, brown rice, and kimchi are topped with an over-easy egg, thus making it an acceptable breakfast food.

Courtesy of John Buchel/Blue’s Egg

The Dubliner with Goat Cheese Stuffed Browns and a Bloody Mary

Blue’s Egg

Address and Info

Honey Creek Parkway

Blue’s has become the default “where should we go for brunch?” place in a city where the meal is taken very seriously, hence the long waits on weekends, and sometimes during the week, too. Try the Dubliner, a Benedict-like dish that combines salty corned beef with creamy leeks and paprika aioli on dark rye toast.

Flickr/Kwong Yee Cheng

Country Fried Steak, Meat n' Eggs, Biscuits n' Gravy

Comet Cafe

Address and Info

Lower East Side

The hipsters are on to something here. Sure, you can get vegan “ribs” and something called a Veggie Cutlet, but you can also get a big Country Fried Steak with gravy, meatloaf & eggs, or corned beef topped with sriracha to satisfy your carnivorous tendencies.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist    

Full English, The Hot Mess

The National

Address and Info

Walker’s Point

Take a trip around the world in one spot. Start with a Croque Madame, then hop to Huevos Rancheros, and end across the pond with a full English breakfast of eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, toast, and bangers. You gotta love that Brits refer to breakfast sausage with an Austin Powers-level sexual innuendo.

Courtesy of Smyth

Tiramisu Pancakes, Collard Greens, Barbecued Ribs

Smyth

Address and Info

Walker’s Point

Smyth is located in the Iron Horse, a surprisingly chic hotel catering to Harley-Davidson riders who visit the Harley-Davidson Museum just down the street. Like everything in the building, the brunch is biker-themed, in this case centering on historic Route 66. It’s a little campy, but who cares because there’s a buffet AND you get to order plated dishes from the kitchen. You get both! That's probably why big burly HOG members and their daintier wives alike dig this brunch.

Flickr/sharyn morrow

Fried Chicken and Waffle, Breakfast Tacos with bacon, potatoes and cheddar

Palomino  

Address and Info

Bayview

This Southern spot has a reputation as a fried-food enclave, so it only makes sense that its brunch rocks. Start your morning with a plate of Brown Sugar Baked House-Made Slab Bacon, then move on to the Fried Chicken & Waffle or Chicken Fried Steak. If those aren’t filling enough, get a Breakfast Burger with Southern pimento cheese spread, bacon, fried egg, and a token lettuce leaf, for color.

Courtesy of Smoke Shack, Milwaukee, WI

Sweet Potato Pancakes Savory-style, Burnt Ends Benedict

Smoke Shack

Address and Info

Third Ward

BBQ & brunch: those two words don’t go together nearly enough. While Smoke Shack doesn't have a large menu, all you really needs are carbs topped with smoked meat anyway. You can get that in the form of biscuits and gravy or eggs Benedict, both topped with your choice of pulled pork, burnt ends, or ham. For something with a semblance of nutrition, get Sweet Potato Pancakes Savory-style with pulled pork and Carolina mustard sauce.

Flickr/Connie Ma

Denver Omelet Pizza, Smashburger Breakfast, Orange Cinnamon Roll

Wolf Peach

Address and Info

Brewer's Hill

This place is upscale for dinner, but down-to-earth for brunch. You get the same high-quality ingredients, just during daylight hours. Must-tries are the brunch pizzas; choose from Denver omelette-style with scrambled eggs, bacon, peppers, and cheese; a fancier pie with slow-poached egg, shaved Brussels sprouts, and guanciale; or the sausage-gravy pizza with roasted mushrooms, cheese, and a poached egg. If you haven’t tried eggs on pizza, here’s your chance.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

Breakfast Burrito, Chilaquiles, Tequila Sunrise

Cafe Corazon

Address and Info

Riverwest

This teeny, quirky Mexican spot has a super-popular brunch with a large menu. You can get chorizo in many glorious forms: in tacos, in burritos, with eggs, on breakfast tostadas, or in empanadas. If you don’t like chorizo, how about carnitas in your chilaquiles or carne mechada in your empanadas? If you’re still not on board, there’s always Rumchata French Toast.

Courtesy of The Bartolotta Restaurants

The buffet

Harbor House

Address and Info

Juneau Town

Harbor House should really just call its brunch buffet “Seafood Extravaganza.” It goes all-out for brunch with piles of fresh fish and shellfish amongst the typical omelettes and bacon. Sure, you can fill yourself up on carved roast beef, but you should make a beeline for the Lobster Pot Pie and freshly shucked oysters instead.

Courtesy of John Buchel/Story Hill BKC

Shakshouka, Crêpe Monsieur 

Story Hill BKC

Address and Info

Story Hill

BKC stands for bottle, kitchen, and cup, and it sells retail wine and beer while also operating a coffee bar and an all-day restaurant. Brunch is served every day and includes some unique options like Shakshouka, a Middle Eastern dish of eggs baked in a tomato and pepper sauce that includes lentils and goat cheese. To satisfy a sweet tooth, there’s always the Chocolate Caramel Nut Roll.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

Breakfast Pork Fries, Wisconsin Honeypie, Carrot Cupcakes

Honeypie

Address and Info

Bayview

If there’s pie for brunch, do you really need anything else? Check out the pie (and cake) case as soon as you walk in. That way, you can decide whether you’ll have Chocolate Chip Cheesecake for your main dish and Lemon Icebox Pie for dessert, or Breakfast Pork Fries followed by Black Bottom Banana. Then be sure to get some pie to go as well.

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Lacey Muszynski is a Milwaukee food writer who would brunch more often if only she could get out of bed earlier. Follow her on Twitter @worthhersalt.

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1. Mad Rooster Cafe 4401 W Greenfield Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53214

Restaurants that are only open until early afternoon mean you can get brunch any day of the week, and that’s a good thing when there’s always a wait on Sundays. This relative newcomer to the brunch scene makes everything from scratch, including Greek yogurt and jams, and gratifies the most indulgent cravings -- say, French toast with Bavarian custard filling and cream-cheese glaze.

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2. The Rouge at The Pfister 424 E Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202

The Pfister Hotel is the Sunday Brunch spot you visit when you want to impress someone who prefers a subdued, classy affair (read: your grandma). It’s buffet-style, so you can load up your plate with cold peel-and-eat shrimp, a made-to-order omelette, carved roast beef, egg salad, and a brownie, artfully mixing dishes as you see fit.

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3. Simple 2124 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (East Side)

This friendly café serves some of its classics -- say, the grilled cheese with rich tomato soup -- straight, while other dishes, like the popular Korean BBQ Breakfast Bowl, show off a subtle creative or fusion-inspired spin.

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4. Blue's Egg 317 N 76th St, Milwaukee, WI 53213 (Wauwatosa)

You'd think the hardest restaurant to get into would be some fancy-schmancy place Downtown, but you'd think wrong. On any given day, there's a wait for a table at this breakfast-and-lunch-only spot, with waits on busy weekends pushing a couple hours. It's worth the delayed gratification for the crispy pulled ham-stuffed hash browns and Bloody Marys.

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5. Comet Cafe 1947 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (East Side)

This East Side establishment may have gained national recognition through the bacon-wrapped meatloaf at the center of Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" segment, but vegan and vegetarian dishes (like a vegan salisbury steak or gyro) on the other side of the health spectrum are also renown. Though a wait is to be expected, cozy booths, warm lighting, and hipster inclinations (surely encouraged by higher-than-average noise levels) make it a popular destination for groups.

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6. The National 839 W National Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (Walkers Point)

Take a trip around the world in one spot. Start with a croque-madame, then hop to huevos rancheros, and end with a full English breakfast: eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, toast, and bangers.

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7. Smyth 500 W Florida St, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (Walkers Point)

Smyth is located in the Iron Horse, a surprisingly chic hotel catering to Harley-Davidson riders who visit the museum just down the street. Like everything in the building, the food is themed around biker culture, in this case historic highway Route 66. It’s a little campy, but who cares, because there's a buffet at brunch and plated American fare day long.

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8. Palomino 2491 S Superior St, Milwaukee, WI 53207 (Bay View)

This is a Southern and fried-food enclave whose dishes make up in heart what they lack in health, from the Brown Sugar Baked Homemade Slab Bacon to the breakfast burger with Southern pimento cheese spread.

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9. Smoke Shack 332 N Milwaukee St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Third Ward)

There isn't a large menu here, but all you really need are carbs topped with smoked meat anyway. You can get that with biscuits and gravy or eggs Benedict, both topped with your choice of pulled pork, burnt ends, or ham -- that's right: there's a BBQ brunch.

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10. Wolf Peach 1818 N Hubbard St, Milwaukee, WI 53212 (East Side)

One of the best views of the city is from the patio of this trendy small-plate, new American haven. Luckily it does everything really well, though, like making broccoli delicious by roasting it in a wood-fired oven and topping it with apricots, almonds, and pickled red chiles. "Trendy" is not a problem when the food is delicious.

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11. Corazon 3129 N Bremen St, Milwaukee, WI 53212 (Riverwest)

Tacos, burritos, and tostadas are always available at this friendly joint, and famously served with eggs or stuffed with chorizo at Mexican-inspired brunch -- all local and fresh from the owners' family farm. The space seats nearly 100 guests, which, in addition to an outdoor patio and vegan options (like soy chorizo), makes this casual restaurant a fit for pickier groups.

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12. Harbor House 550 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Harbor House should really just call its brunch buffet “Seafood Extravaganza" -- it goes all out with piles of fresh fish and shellfish amongst the typical omelets and bacon. And you wouldn't expect any less from a steakhouse-cum-raw bar trading in lobster bisque and shrimp cocktails, and with views of the water to boot.

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13. Story Hill BKC 5100 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53208 (Story Hill)

BKC stands for bottle, kitchen, and cocktail, and it sells retail wine and beer while also operating a coffee and cocktail bar and an all-day restaurant. Food, including the daily brunch, is inspired by the cuisine of the Upper Midwest but made with techniques gathered from across the world. This Story Hill spot serves up several batch cocktails, but you can also get one built from scratch.

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14. Honeypie 2643 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207 (Bay View)

If your grandma was Midwestern, Honeypie makes its food like your grandma used to make. Ingredients for corn muffins or apple cabbage slaw are locally sourced whenever possible, and there's a whole case of just the namesake pie and cake: cheesecake, red velvet, Black Bottom Banana...

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