It's Worth Getting Sloppy For This Grilled Cheese Taco
Karl RatzschAddress and Info
Besides heading up farm-to-table favorite c.1880, James Beard Award semi-finalist Thomas Hauck ventured in a new direction in early 2016 when he purchased Karl Ratzsch. The Milwaukee German restaurant staple, one of the oldest restaurants in the state, got a much needed facelift under Hauck. A complete remodel of the space and the menu ensued, though Hauck was adamant on keeping traditions and the spirit of the restaurant the same.
Irie ZuluAddress and Info
A native of Cameroon who came to Milwaukee in 2001 to pursue an MBA at Marquette University, Yollande Deacon has brought an underrepresented cuisine to the west side. She introduces customers to the African food she grew up with, along with her husband's native Jamaican cuisine, which turns out to be a perfect match. Before opening Irie Zulu, Deacon started a food product company, Afro Fusion Cuisine, which she continues to run alongside the restaurant.
AmilindaAddress and Info
Chef Gregory Leon has grown Amilinda from a sporadic pop-up restaurant, to a weekly pop-up restaurant, to a permanent restaurant. The demand from diners for spots at the pop-ups was so high that finding a permanent home was the only next logical step. Now diners can get a taste of Leon's small, constantly changing menu any day they like. Leon spent his childhood in Venezuela and worked in Spain, lending those cuisines to the menu, along with a hefty dash of Portugal.
Tre RivaliAddress and Info
A posh new Kimpton hotel houses Tre Rivali, a restaurant that's kicking the trend of boring hotel dining. Heather Terhune heads up the kitchen--a newcomer to Milwaukee, but not to the Midwest or the Mediterranean flavors in her menu. She honed her culinary chops at French, Italian and comfort food restaurants, a combination that bodes well in MKE. You may recognize her as a former contestant on Top Chef, but her Midwestern roots shine brighter than her celebrity status.
The location where Karl Ratzsch now dwells has been an old school German beer hall since 1904, and Karl Ratzsch’s hearty, authentic German menu that continues to pay homage to Milwaukee’s heritage. For starters, Karl Ratzsch features savory inventions like Sauerkraut Fritters stuffed with bacon, and crispy Pork Cracklings on pumpernickel. For full on stomach-filling mains, the menu sticks pretty closely to traditional German dishes like Sauerbraten (potato dumplings in a gingersnap gravy), pork Bratwursts, Wienerschnitzel (veal, red cabbage, and parsley), and a gigantic, honey-glazed Goose Shank served over wild rice and pickled red cabbage. As expected, the beer program is just as German with hefeweissens, kölschs, pilsners, and bocks galore.
C.1880 is a cozy Walker's Point spot with an ever-changing menu featuring tweezer-guided plating and locally sourced ingredients. The name comes from the estimated age of the building, and the interior plays off that antiquity with exposed wood and a trendy vintage feel. The menu has featured oldies but goodies like steak tartare with an onion marmalade, foie gras with almond and cherry on brioche, fresh scallops with butternut squash and golden beets, and tender Bone-in Wild Boar Chops with pickled plums. C. 1880 compliments their impressive wine program with craft cocktails like the refreshing Thyme After Thyme (gin, pear liqueur, honey, lemon, and thyme) and the sweet Bluegrass State of Mind (Kentucky bourbon, apricot, and maraschino cherries).
Irie Zulu, an unassuming, spacious, brick-front restaurant, is one of the first Afro-fusion places in Milwaukee to offer both authentic African (Tuesday through Thrusday) and Jamaican (Fridays) cuisine. The African menu features options like, sweet and savory Native Ghana Yam Fries served with tomato chutney, samosa-like East African Style Stuffed Pastries loaded with veggies, spices, and local beef or chicken, and locally raised, bone-in Oxtail Stew served with rice and beans or sweet plantains. On Fridays you’ll find Jamaican Handpies, flaky pastries filled with savory spicy jerk meat, Grilled jerk-marinated chicken wings, mild Fish Tea Soup, made with sustainably raised cod, and tender saffron-forward Goat Curry. You can also purchase sauces, spices, and sausages at the retail counter.
Amilinda is a warm, vibrant Spanish and Portuguese restaurant specializing in farm fresh, seasonally inspired plates. Amongst the Antoni Gaudi-inspired murals and din of lively conversation, enjoy options like, Beef Espetada served with sweet kapello peppers and Mihlo Frito (fried corn), Halibut over roasted beets and a golden turnip puree, and buttery Goat Pot Pie that melts in your mouth. The wine list is comprised only of Spanish and Portuguese wines and the Catalan-themed cocktail menu features creative options like the Hemingway Espana made with hibiscus absinthe, cava (sparkling wine), and sugar and the Iberian Fizz made with sweet sherry, gin, and lemon. Before hitting the road, sink a spoon into the soft, decadent caramel flan.
A Mediterranean restaurant with heavy Italian influence, Tre Rivali sits in the posh Kimpton Journeyman Hotel. Woodfire pizzas might catch your eye, but it's interesting seafood preps like olive oil braised octopus and shrimp bagna cauda with radishes that stand out. Whoever thought to make arancini out of paella is a genius.