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When you're craving authentic Southern food but want to avoid the Downtown crowds, go north to Lindsay Heights, where Coffee Makes You Black is serving up consistently comforting soul food and Milwaukee's Alterra coffee. Formerly a bank building that went unoccupied for years, CMYB transformed the space into a bright and roomy spot for Southern favorites, including a killer chicken & waffles platter and a fried catfish sandwich as good as any you'd find in, say, Louisiana -- and a much-needed community feel in an oft-overlooked neighborhood. You can gather with locals for its Friday night fish fry or Sunday night soul food dinner, and you'll want to keep an eye out for jazz and poetry performances, too.
A second branch of the original Ashley’s on Center Street, this Walker's Point outpost also serves up high-quality BBQ, but one-ups its sister restaurant by offering beer and booze at an expansive wooden bar. Along with Bloody Marys during weekend soul-food brunch, you can order yourself a Purple Drank, which mixes grape Kool-Aid with locally distilled, high-end Rehorst vodka for one crazy dichotomy of a cocktail. You should pair that clever concoction with Ashley's heavenly cheesy grits, fried okra, and smoked beef short ribs. A side of perfectly moist, slightly sweet cornbread is a given.
Grab a cup of joe and, in turn, help members of your community at Dryhootch, a not-for-profit coffee house and veterans outreach organization on Brady Street, which is dedicated to helping veterans return to civilian life in a safe, comfortable, drug- and alcohol-free setting. Named for the fact that it doesn't offer alcohol ("dry") and welcomes vets ("hootch" is military jargon for a hut or safe place to sleep during combat), Dryhootch not only roasts its own brand of coffee beans with clever names like Marine Mud and Navy Destroyer, but also regularly hosts live music performances and other community events that serve its mission of social healing. Supporting a good cause is as easy as getting your regular caffeine fix.