Food & Drink

50 Things You Need to Eat in Milwaukee Before You Die

Published On 09/01/2015 Published On 09/01/2015
Courtesy of The Vanguard

In what should be a spoiler to no one, eventually, we’re all going to croak -- it might not be soon, but just in case, be sure you’ve left the land of the living having eaten all of Milwaukee’s iconic foods (and told your mother you love her). From fried fish and cheese curds to tamales and honey pie, we’ve narrowed our bucket list down to 50 amazing foods from around the city that you need to experience.

1. Hot dog, Milwaukee-style

The Vanguard (address and info)
Bay View
The homemade hot dog at The Vanguard is made with as much respect as all of its other encased meats. Top it with cheese, cheese sauce, and cheese curds (Milwaukee-style, appropriately) for a transcendent hot dog experience.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

2. Bacon cheeseburger

Mazos (address and info)
Nothing fancy here, just freshly ground beef, a couple thick slices of gooey American cheese, and smokey bacon. It's been making its burgers the same way since 1934 for a reason.

3. Friday fish fry

The Packing House (address and info)
Town of Lake
The Friday fish fry is so popular at this supper club that they made a dedicated drive-thru just for fish. Breaded cod or perch is served with all the fixings: clam chowder, rye bread, tartar sauce, and fries or potato pancakes. Only non-Wisconsinites order fries when there are potato pancakes to be had.

Courtesy of Red Light Ramen

4. Tonkotsu ramen

Red Light Ramen (address and info)
Lower East Side
Highly acclaimed Ardent transforms into a dark and mysterious ramen shop every Friday and Saturday night. People line up an hour before it opens for the super-rich pork broth and springy noodles, booze slushies, cans of PBR, and the chance to eat it all standing in the tiny kitchen next to the chef.

Cassandra Forbes at Gilded Lens Photography/Courtesy of Ono Kine Grindz

5. Combo plate, kalua pig, and char siu chicken

Ono Kine Grindz (address and info)
Inglewood Heights
The combo plate at this Hawaiian deli and market is a feast with shredded roast kalua pork, red Chinese char siu chicken, purple sticky rice, macaroni salad, kimchi, and an irresistible sweet carrot and pineapple slaw. It’ll make you want to resurrect that aloha shirt from your 1997 trip to the islands.

6. Camarones en chile de arbol

Buenavista Restaurant and Bar (address and info)
Layton Park
The full-service version of a popular takeout place and taco truck, this location has a larger menu, including lots of shrimp dishes. The spicy, rich sauce of pureed chiles de arbol is not for the faint of heart, but totally worth the pain the next day.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

7. Spicy crab pasta

Goodkind (address and info)
Bay View
Who knew pepperoni and peekytoe crabmeat would go together so well? Simple tomato sauce with just enough spicy pepperoni balances out the sweet crab and bitter wilted rapini.

Courtesy of Potawatomi Hotel and Casino

8. Wok-fried fish

RuYi (address and info)
Menomonee River Valley
Don’t let the casino location throw you; there’s some tasty fish to be had here. A whole red snapper is deep fried with its tail in the air and it’s topped with a Thai brown sauce and veggies, which you’ll want to soak up with the side of rice.

9.The Triple

The Gouda Girls (address and info)
Location varies
This roving food truck filled with cheese has won MKE’s heart. You can’t go wrong with the classic, gooey Triple grilled cheese filled with Gouda, colby, Jack, and havarti.

Flickr/Ben Husmann

10. Double butter pecan cone

Leon’s Frozen Custard (address and info)
An old-timey custard stand demands an old-timey flavor like butter pecan. Old-timey prices don’t hurt either.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

11. Half & half dinner with outside and rib tips

Speed Queen (address and info)
Triangle North
This is Milwaukee barbecue royalty in name and reputation. You can smell the smoke as soon as you walk in. The bright red sweet and tangy sauce will cut through the fatty meat and make you go through a ton of napkins.

12. Combo stack with corned beef and pastrami

Jake’s Deli (address and info)
Lindsay Heights
It’s way too hard to decide between the equally venerated corned beef and pastrami at Jake’s, so why not just get both in one giant, amazing sandwich?

John Buchel/Courtesy of Maxie’s

13. Fresh-shucked raw oysters

Maxie’s (address and info)
Bluemound Heights
Nothing could be simpler and more sophisticated than an oyster on the half shell, topped with a spritz of lemon or mignonette. Just don’t tell the date you’re trying to impress that you came during happy hour when they’re a buck off.

14. Parrillada

El Senorial (address and info)
Burnham Park
Parrillada is a communal meal for the whole table, full of Mexican-seasoned meats, grilled peppers, onions, and sausage, served on a dish over an open flame. Everyone gets their own plate of fixin's, tortilla, and sides, too. It’s like fajitas on steroids.

Courtesy of Chef Paz

15. Ceviche

Chef Paz (address and info)
West Allis
Fun fact: the honorary national dish of Peru is ceviche. It’s served with piles of mild shaved red onion, thick slices of sweet potatos, and big kernels of corn. Your brain may be confused at first, but your taste buds will set you straight.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

16. Chorizo tacos

La Casa de Alberto (address and info)
Walker’s Point
A great place to have a taco-eating contest, because they’re super cheap (four for $5 whaaa?), piled high with any toppings you like, and you’ll definitely want to eat as many as you can stomach. The chorizo is spicy and not dripping with grease.

17. Yum nuer (Thai beef salad)

Kim’s Thai (address and info)
Copernicus Park
What could make salad better? Meat. The main ingredient here is steak. Sure, there’s some cucumber, tomato, onion, lots of lime juice, fish sauce, hot pepper, and other goodies, but it’s for carnivores only. If you’ve never branched out from pad Thai, this is the place to do it.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

18. Rendang beef

Peking Chef (address and info)
Fox Point
You have to go to the suburbs to find great Indonesian food. Rendang beef is a thick, coconut-based curry flavored with ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon, and probably also crack. If this place were in the city, hipsters would be lining up out the door.

19. Gyro

Spartan Gyros (address and info)
Menomonee River Hills
The best gyro in the city that no one’s heard about. It won’t make you feel like you need a nap or some Rolaids. Plus, there’s always cops eating here, and they know the best neighborhood places.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

20. Fried chicken dinner

TomKen’s Bar and Grill (address and info)
West Allis
Skip the KFC and support a local neighborhood bar instead. Here you can get four pieces of fried chicken, a mess of fries, slaw, and bread for only a buck or two more than the Colonel’s No. 5 meal.

21. Bacon-wrapped meatloaf

Comet Cafe (address and info)
Lower East Side
Comet’s widely known for its free bacon, and bacon Bloody Marys, and bacon inside pancakes, so why wouldn’t there be meatloaf wrapped in bacon? It even adds beer gravy to seal the deal.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

22. Filet mignon

Jackson Grill (address and info)
Burnham Park
In a meat and potatoes town, Jackson Grill stands out for its supper club vibe and tender hunks of meat. The filet is king around here, and it cuts like butta.

Courtesy of Odd Duck

23. Charred octopus

Odd Duck (address and info)
Bay View
They say the menu changes all the time, but the charred octopus has been hanging around a long time. Fermented black beans, oyster mushrooms, and bok choy give the tentacles an Asian persuasion.

24. Four-course exploration menu

Sanford (address and info)
Lower East Side
The a la carte menu at this institution of a restaurant changes all the time, but there’s a four-course menu (Monday through Thursday) that explores different cuisines and themes, from Lebanese to tailgate fare. It’s a great thing if you’re indecisive.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

25. Salted honey pie

Honeypie (address and info)
Bay View
If you’ve always wanted to go to a little cafe and just order a slice of pie (or three) for dinner, this place is your jam. The creamy custard filling of the honey pie is sprinkled with coarse salt so your taste buds don’t go into sugar overload. And it’s just so pretty.

26. Burek

Three Brothers (address and info)
Bay View
If Serbian food is mysterious to you, start with burek, a dinner plate-sized pie of flaky phyllo dough layered with beef, cheese, or spinach filling. If you could bake a hug, it would taste like this. Call ahead to order it since it takes 40 minutes to prepare.

Courtesy of Cubanitas

27. Cubano

Cubanitas (address and info)
Juneau Town
So we may be able to go to Cuba now, but we’ve never needed to travel that far for a good Cubano sandwich. Pork on pork will always be a great thing.

28. Pho

Vientiane Noodle Shop (address and info)
Silver City
Those pho places with punny names might attract more attention, but the soup here is pho real. (Sorry, not sorry.) Other places give you wimpy jalapeños on your garnish plate, but here you get atomic-strength Thai bird chiles. A plop of concentrated soup base allows even more customization.

Courtesy of Purple Door

29. Brandy Old Fashioned ice cream

Purple Door (address and info)
Walker’s Point
A little bit of orange, a little bit of cherry, and lots of brandy. Exactly how we make the drink, only frozen.

Courtesy of Botanas Restaurant

30. Shrimp soup

Botanas (address and info)
Walker’s Point
Shrimp soup is ubiquitous at our Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants, of which Botanas’ version is quite popular. Served hot or cold, it’s a cross between ceviche and shrimp cocktail, with tomatoes, onion, citrus, and avocado. If you need to spice it up, ask for the chile de arbol salsa.

31. Maria’s special pizza (sausage, mushroom, onion)

Maria’s Pizzeria (address and info)
Lyons Park
The freeform shape of Maria’s pizzas might remind you of a Picasso painting, but presumably the pizza tastes a lot better. Super-thin crust is charred around the edges and full of fresh Italian sausage, lending lots of pizza grease -- the most delicious kind of grease -- to these pies.

Courtesy of Saz’s

32. Saz’s sampler combo

Saz’s (address and info)
Various locations
As much of a staple at festivals around here as beer, Saz’s combo platter includes cheese curds, sour cream and chive seasoned fries, and the piece de resistance: mozzarella marinara. It’s not summer until you’ve had those giant wonton-wrapped sticks.

33. Hodag sandwich

Koppa’s Fulbeli Deli (address and info)
Lower East Side
Only a super-quirky corner deli and grocery like Koppa’s would name its breakfast sandwich after a mythical creature. The Hodag is considered a local legend, though, so it fits. You pick whatever you want on the card and they make your giant beast, any time you want it.

Courtesy of Bartolotta’s

34. Sole meuniere

Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro (address and info)
North Point
Sole meuniere was the dish that turned Julia Child into a Francophile, so it’s required eating for all French food novices. They filet the fish tableside, which can be equally awkward and fascinating.

35. Pierogies

Polonez (address and info)
St. Francis
It doesn’t matter which flavor you get, all the pierogies are handmade with love and fried with plenty of butter. If they have dessert pierogies available, like cherry and sweet cheese, make sure you order them too.

Courtesy of Ardent

36. Eight-course chef’s tasting menu

Ardent (address and info)
Lower East Side
Sit back, relax, and put all your trust into Ardent’s chef, Justin Carlisle. You’ll get eight courses, some of which will be surprising, and all of which will be unique. Escargot sometimes make an appearance, as does beef from Carlisle’s parent’s cattle farm. Craving ants on a log or fried rice? Make a request and the chef’s interpretation might appear in front of you.

37. Solly cheeseburger

Solly’s Grille (address and info)
Burgers topped with so much butter it pools on the plate. What more do you need in life?

Flickr/John Kannenberg

38. Mac & cheese pizza

Ian’s Pizza (address and info)
Multiple locations
After a night of drinking, Ian’s is there to take care of you. Pizza crust, topped with more carbs in the form of macaroni, and salty, melty cheese make this manna from heaven after too many hours at Just Art’s.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

39. Cheese curds

Northpoint Custard (address and info)
Lake Park
Deep-frying makes everything better, especially when we’re talking about those beloved squeaky little curds. We prefer our lake views with fried cheese.

40. Pulled ham Very Stuffed Browns

Blue’s Egg (address and info)
MKEans know their brunch and Blue’s Egg is a favorite spot, serving brunch every day of the week (that’s all it serves). Falling-apart ham and cheddar are folded into a blanket of crunchy hash browns, elevating the humble potato to a whole new level.


41. Bratwurst

Old German Beer Hall (address and info)
Kilbourn Town
This list would be a joke without a brat on it. Might as well go full-on Munich at Old German Beer Hall.

42. Hot ham and rolls

Grebe’s Bakery (address and info)
West Allis
No one really knows why Sunday morning hot ham and rolls is a MKE tradition. It may have started as a Catholic after-church thing, or maybe the most successful promotion of all time by Badger Ham. Grebe's will be crowded Sunday mornings, but that bag of hot processed pig and fresh rolls is worth it.

43. Bloody Masterpiece

Sobelman’s (address and info)
Multiple locations
Sobelman’s has perfected the art of piling garnishes on Bloody Marys, creating precarious arrangements of cocktail shrimp, beef sticks, bacon-wrapped cheese curds, and even a whole fried chicken. If that’s a little too scary for you, order the Bloody Masterpiece with the relatively tame mini cheeseburger on top.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

44. Samosas

Bombay Sweets (address and info)
Before you order boxes of Indian sweets from the counter, do yourself a favor and order a bunch of samosas (they’re only 75 cents a pop, after all). Filled with potatoes, peas, and masala spices, they’re great dipped in the spicy cilantro chutney or sweet tamarind sauce.

45. All-American breakfast

George Webb (address and info)
Multiple locations
Who needs Denny’s when you’ve got Webb’s? They’ve been fulfilling MKE’s 24/7 diner needs for decades, and like all greasy spoons, the best food is breakfast. And if you want a burger alongside your eggs, go for it. You do you.

46. Tamales

El Rey (address and info)
Multiple locations
You know that when the second ingredient listed is lard, those tamales are going to be good. Chicken, pork, beef, and even dessert tamales are available at this busy Hispanic grocery store. Buy them by the bundle -- hot for now or cold for later.


47. Cream puff

State Fair Park (address and info)
West Allis
It’s only available 11 days every summer, so you better make getting your whipped cream mustache a top priority. 

48. Wiener schnitzel a la Holstein

Karl Ratzsch’s (address and info)
Juneau Town
“Wiener schnitzel” is almost as fun to say as “Karl Ratzsch’s.”This traditional version is topped with a fried egg, anchovies, and capers for a super-salty one-two punch.

Courtesy of Points East Pub

49. Hot wings

Points East Pub (address and info)
Lower East Side
There’s only one kind of wing you can order here, dubbed the “hot wing.” They’re fried, sauced, and then grilled for smoke flavor. The kitchen is being renovated, so hopefully those nights of 80-minute wing waits will soon be over.

50. Cheesecake

Simma’s Bakery (address and info)
It’s just not a wedding, or baby shower, or birthday, without a Simma’s cheesecake. A thin layer of chocolate cake, fat layer of cheesecake, and a smear of raspberry jelly is all coated in shiny chocolate ganache. We love our cheese any way we can get it.

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Lacey Muszynski is a Milwaukee native who was initially intimidated by this list, but had trouble paring it down to just 50 items. Follow her on Twitter @worthhersalt.

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1. Vanguard 2659 S Kinnickinnic Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Sausages will never go out of style in MKE, especially when Vanguard in Bay View reinvents the wheel with new versions all the time. Thai, Italian, German, and Jamaican meats are all represented, not to mention our neighbor to the north (which gets a nod with several variations on poutine). But you're in Milwaukee, so opt for the city's namesake dog, which comes with cheese curds, cheddar cheese, and Cheez Whiz for good measure. There's a hidden patio out back, which we suggest retreating to so you can eat the second hot dog you'll likely order in peace.

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2. Mazos 3146 S 27th St, Milwaukee, WI 53215

That this old-school diner has been a Milwaukee staple since 1934 should come as no surprise: the fresh, house-ground burgers here are some of the city's finest. Guests can select two different sides to pair with their patties, ranging from French fries, cottage cheese, coleslaw, or apple sauce, all of which are made from heirloom family recipes. There's a lovingly divey vibe to the place, one that attracts locals and passersby time and time again.

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3. The Packing House 900 E Layton Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

After over 30 years of supper club-ing, this spot has found its place again with a younger crowd. The classic menu includes stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail, beef Wellington, prime rib, lobster thermidor, and steak au poivre.

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4. Red Light Ramen 1751 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Ardent, everyone's favorite Milwaukee restaurant, transforms on Friday and Saturday nights from 11:30-1:30 into a ramen house with a cult following. Every college kid's dream.

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5. Ono Kine Grindz 7215 W North Ave, Wauwatosa, WI 53213 (Wauwatosa)

Not what you normally think of when you think BBQ, this Hawaiian market and restaurant is much beloved for the kalua pork and char siu chicken. The pork is wrapped in banana leaves and smoked, while the deep red chicken is cooked with Chinese spices. Both meats are served with beautiful purple sticky rice, macaroni salad, kimchi, and a crunchy, sweet carrot and pineapple slaw. It’s like a Hawaiian rainbow in a takeout box.

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6. Buenavista Restaurant and Bar 3447 W Forest Home Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53215

Your favorite taco truck is now a full-blown bar and restaurant. Your welcome.

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7. Goodkind 2457 S Wentworth Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Goodkind has all the warmth and friendliness of your neighborhood bar and grill -- but also lots of stuff that place doesn't have. This Bay View farm-to-table restaurant and bar specializes in rotisserie meats, local produce, and house-made cocktails. You'll find as many seasonal ingredients on your plate as you will in your glass, and the full kitchen menu is served until 1am to ensure that the space maintains as much of a bar status as it does of a restaurant one.

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8. RuYi 1721 W Canal St, Milwaukee, WI 53233

RuYi, a pan-Asian restaurant inside Potawatomi Casino, serves up fresh, inventive dishes in an dimly lit, intimate yet modern setting. It offers diverse options like tangy Chinese Pork Buns, sweet and salty Pad Thai, Korean Bulgogi (marinated beef over rice), and Vietnamese Pho (rice noodles, bean sprouts, and beef meatballs in broth) to name a few. Order beautifully constructed sushi like classic maki rolls (think California and Spicy Tuna) and a huge number of nigiri and sashimi options like Tai (red snapper), Tako (octopus), and Ikura (marinated salmon) . RuYi’s cocktails are just as wide reaching with Chinese and Japanese beers, sake, lychee cocktails and, of course, a Mai Tai.

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9. Leon's 3131 S. 27th St, Milwaukee, WI 53215

There's some debate as to whether Leon’s was the model for Arnold’s Drive-In on Happy Days. Regardless, it’s the best place to get frozen custard in Milwaukee. And yes, it’s open in the winter, because there's no reason to stop eating custard, especially when it's in the cinnamon and raspberry flavors.

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10. Speed Queen Bar-B-Q 1130 W Walnut St, Milwaukee, WI 53205

Speed Queen is BBQ royalty (having reigned since 1956), and probably the most well-known smoked meat around. Its specialty is "outside," the deepest part of the bark that forms on the outside of the pork shoulder while smoking. Its sticky, tangy sauce is a little ketchupy by itself, but it forms BBQ nirvana when paired with the charred outside or rib tips.

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11. Jake’s Deli 1634 W. North Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53205 (Riverwest)

Putting your thoughts about Bud Selig's tenure as MLB Commish aside, the man knows his delis. That’s why he invested in Jake’s for a time to keep the deli -- which has been operating since 1955 -- going. The corned beef is made fresh every day, cut by hand, and it's quality enough to woo any New Yorker.

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12. Maxie's 6732 W Fairview Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53213

This Southern restaurant has expanded its barbeque offerings since opening to include Memphis and St. Louis-style ribs, and North Carolina pulled pork with a vinegar-based sauce. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but what really stands out here are the sides, including homemade mac and cheese, corn and arugula salad in buttermilk dressing, and sweet cornbread with whipped orange honey butter. Start with fried green tomatoes, tackle ribs and greens, and end with bread pudding. Congratulations, you’re now a true Southerner.

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13. El Sen'orial 1901 S 31st St, Milwaukee, WI 53215

Count on traditional Mexican dishes like carne asada chilequeñas, tacos, and margaritas at this easygoing cantina. As for specials, try the meat-heavy Parrillada, a communal dish served over an open flame along with sides and tortillas.

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14. Chef Paz Restaurant 9039 W National Ave, West Allis, WI 53227

Count on authentic Peruvian fare in this compact bar and eatery that is a favorite among locals. The ceviche is a fresh and delicious must-order.

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15. La Casa De Alberto 624 W National Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53204

Conejito’s alumni Alberto and Laura Gonzalez helm La Casa de Alberto, a barebones Mexican joint whose menu of tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, and chicken mole is simple yet bursting with flavor in every dish. Portions are generous, so you’ll want to pace yourself as you dive into your sizzling plate of steak fajitas, snack on cilantro- and onion-covered tacos, and soothe your singed tongue after the fiery chile rellenos. The best part of the whole affair might actually be the precursor: the chips and three salsas hurriedly brought to your table when you first take a seat.

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16. Kims Thai Restaurant 938 W Layton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53221

Located in a nondescript strip mall by the airport, this hidden Mitchell West gem offers flavorful and unique Thai cuisine. Everything is made-to-order, and the variety of creative options keep you from choosing pad thai again. If the menu isn't hard enough to narrow down an order from, a rotating selection of daily specials makes your decision all the more difficult, in the best way. Plus, they'll make your food as spicy as you'd like it!

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17. Peking Chef 8673 N Port Washington Rd, Fox Point, WI 53217

Expect Chinese, Thai and Indonesian fare at this suburban restaurant. The rendang beef, which sits in a thick, coconut-based curry, is absolutely addicting.

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18. Spartan Gyros 6309 N 76th St, Milwaukee, WI 53218

This under-the-radar joint is arguably home to the best gyro in the city. The food is always fresh and the owner is usually behind the counter, ready to greet you.

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19. Tomken's Bar & Grill 8001 W Greenfield Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53214 (West Allis)

Sitting across from the State Fairgrounds in West Allis, Tomken's is an unpretentious neighborhood tavern that regulars (who all know each other's names) defend as Milwaukee's top wing joint. From Buffalo Bleu to Honey BBQ to Jerk-rubbed, the wings -- served grilled or fried -- are reliably moist and meaty no matter the sauce, and will barely make a dent in your wallet. For another good deal, order the fried chicken dinner, which offers four crispy, golden-brown pieces just like grandma used to make, plus crinkle-cut fries, cole slaw, and Italian bread. And what are wings without beers? There are plenty of American brews on tap to pair with your basket.

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20. Comet Cafe 1947 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Comet does the holy trinity of Bs (beer, bacon, and brunch, of course) so very well that finding a table in this tiny, dual-sided bar/cafe can be difficult on the weekend. Hungover or not, folks venture here for stellar biscuits & gravy, hearty meatloaf (wrapped in bacon, because of course), and some bomb mac & cheese.

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21. Jackson Grill 3736 W Mitchell St, Milwaukee, WI 53215

Chef Jimmy Jackson learned to cook at his father's restaurant (Ray Jackson's) under Jahn Kramph. Now he helms this spot, which calls itself "Milwaukee's Supper Club." The steaks are phenomenal, and most of them come topped with mushroom, gorgonzola butter, or creme bordelaise.

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22. Odd Duck 2352 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Odd Duck in Bay View stands out for consistently delivering creative flavor combinations contained in small plates on an ever-changing menu. It serves a variety of vegan options suitable even to carnivores, and their cocktails rarely disappoint. This place is incredibly popular, so reservations are recommended.

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23. Sanford 1547 N Jackson St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (East Side)

Arguably the best restaurant in Milwaukee, at least if the culinary equivalent of the Super Bowl -- the James Beard Awards -- are any indication. The menu changes seasonally, or you can spring for the tasting menu and put all your trust in the chef.

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24. 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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25. Three Brothers 2414 S St Clair St, Milwaukee, WI 53207 (Bay View)

Another throwback to the '50s, this family-run Serbian restaurant hasn’t changed much. It still only takes cash or personal check, the historic Schlitz tavern is still dark and kind of creepy, and the specialty burek still takes 40 minutes to make (it's worth it). Offset your heavy meal with Serbian Salad, a refreshing mix of crunchy vegetables and cheese.

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26. Cubanitas 728 N Milwaukee St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Down home cuban cooking and awesome mojitos cause locals to line up outside this compact spot with sidewalk seating. The cuban sandwich is a must-try.

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27. Vientiane Noodle Shop 3422 W National Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53215

This place makes some of the most authentic pho you'll come by in Milwaukee. It's reasonably priced, not too salty and has a very balanced flavor profile. Thai bird chiles are served on the side to really spice up your order.

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28. Purple Door Ice Cream 205 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204

This colorful ice cream shop offers a slew of unique flavors from banana peanut butter to blueberry buttermilk. Can't decide what you want? Try a tasting flight!

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29. Botanas Restaurant 816 S. 5th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53204

If you haven't had their shrimp soup yet, you don't know what you are missing!

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30. Maria's Pizzaria 5025 W Forest Home Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53219

If you've ever envisioned an abundance of pizza, you can literally see your dreams come true at Maria's Pizzaria, where the pizza overflows off the sheeter pan. This old-school neighborhood spot is charmingly decorated with Christmas lights, and the bouffant hairdos of the senior waitstaff add to the pizzerias character.

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31. Saz's State House 5539 W State St, Milwaukee, WI 53208 (Story Hill)

Saz’s has built a BBQ empire in MKE, from its main location and bar, to its outposts at just about every festival in the city. You can get all kinds of meat at the restaurant, so you might as well order the Texas BBQ combo in order to try ribs, brisket, and smoked andouille sausage. Wash the meat down with the ubiquitous sour cream and chive fries or the wonton skin-wrapped mozzarella sticks.

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32. Koppa's Fulbeli Deli 1940 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202

The Hodag sandwich is basically like a local legend. Meaning if you haven't eaten it, you aren't a really from the MKE.

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33. Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro 3133 East Newberry Blvd., Milwaukee, WI 53211

You aren't a real French foodie until you've eaten their sole meuniere.

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34. Polonez 4016 S Packard Ave, St Francis, WI 53235

Voted one of the best Polish eateries in the city, Polonez serves up the traditional cuisine you are craving. They are known for their Pierogi, which is hand-made, fried, and full of butter.

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35. Ardent 1751 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (East Side)

Leave your tastebuds in Chef Justin Carlisle's capable hands and order the tasting menu at this James Beard Award-nominated spot in the Lower East Side. Expect lots of foams, gels, crunchy things and ingredients you’ve never heard of before, but that are all the more intriguing for it. If that’s too much for you, no worries -- just head over after 11:30pm on Saturday nights when it changes into Red Light Ramen, serving homemade ramen, PBR, and booze slushies.

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36. Solly's Grille 4629 N Port Washington Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53212

From afar it might just seem like you're getting a classic diner-style griddled burger with 1/3lb worth of sirloin, some melty American cheese, and stewed onions. But what's that pooling on the plate? Oh, it's melted butter. Because Solly's, a Wisconsin institution opened in 1936, slathers it on at the end.

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37. Northpoint Custard 2272 N Lincoln Memorial Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Northpoint Custard’s lakefront location is a seasonal affair, mostly because frozen custard just tastes better in the summertime. In addition to sundaes and shakes, the snack bar stand serves American grill classics like charred burgers, tarter-heavy fried cod sandwiches, and cheesey hot dogs. If you don't grab a side order of the fried white cheddar cheese curds, you're not doing it right.

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

No matter what time of day you visit Blue’s Egg (well, it’s only open afternoons), there’s going to be a wait. An acronym for breakfast, lunch, in an urban environment and everyone’s good graces, Blue’s Egg offers Milwaukee diners glimpses of European breakfast or lunch menus with dishes like creamy polenta with poached eggs, roasted mushrooms, braised kale, and fonduta cheese, the Dubliner Benedict with corned beef, creamy leeks, rye toast, and paprika aioli, and a Hoppel Poppel, consisting of scrambled eggs, cream, sausage, bacon, caramelized onion, shredded potatoes, spinach, hollandaise, and toast. Fill your daytime meal cravings and put all of your eggs in Blue’s basket.

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39. Old German Beer Hall 1009 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203

Old German Beer Hall is a wonderful place to kick back with a large beer and Bavarian festival food. The giant pretzels are imported from Munich and the bratwurst is really something special.

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40. Grebe’s Bakery 5132 W Lincoln Av, West Allis, WI 53219 (West Allis)

This place has been baking sweet and savory classics in West Allis for 75 years. They are known for their hot ham and rolls, which cause a Sunday rush.

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41. Bombay Sweets 3401 South 13th St, Milwaukee, WI 53215

Bombay Sweets prepares massive quantities of savory, sweet, vegetarian Indian fare, like masala samosas, dosas, and more than a dozen varieties of curry. The prices are locally renowned for being bafflingly low, but the restaurant compensates for affordability with a barebones hyper-casual space, and use of styrofoam plates.

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42. Karl Ratzsch 320 E Mason St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

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.

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43. Points East Pub 1501 N Jackson St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Maintaining the maxim, "Built on a wing and a prayer," this Milwaukee watering hole boasts an impressive list of craft beers, a whiskey forward cocktail program, and most importantly, plenty of grilled chicken wings. Locally renowned for their popular rendition of the sauce-drenched poultry delicacy, Points East Pub hand-coats each of their wings in a viscous house BBQ sauce, grills them for precisely the right amount of time -- not too tender, not too crispy -- and serves them hot with fresh-cut celery and blue cheese sauce. While the bar offers 15 rotating beer on tap, tasting menus for its veritable whiskey selection from Japanese rye to Canadian bourbon, and a food menu listing plenty of classic bar snacks, you'd be remiss to leave Points East without ordering the notorious wings.

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44. Simma’s Bakery 817 N 68th St, Milwaukee, WI 53213 (Wauwatosa)

Simma’s Bakery makes plenty of cakes and sweet goodies, but the winner is their cheesecake. It's got one chocolate cake layer, one cheesecake layer, and some raspberry jelly, so it's much more than your ordinary cheesecake.



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