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Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011

Miss Katie’s Is a Classic Milwaukee Diner

Ribs, meatloaf and milkshakes in a 1950s setting

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Built in the style of a 1950s roadside restaurant, Miss Katie’s Diner is the type of place where Laverne and Shirley would feel comfortable. Metallic finishes and a bit of neon add an authentic feel to the dining room, along with upholstery that is a cool mint green. The adjacent sports bar features retro red and yellow Formica. It’s a fun place to be.

Miss Katie’s is also a stop for visiting politicians wanting to be seen. The most famous example occurred when then-President Bill Clinton and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl had lunch there in 1996. The dining room has life-size photographic cutouts of Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, also former patrons here. The bar has a photo of Rachael Ray, who selected Miss Katie’s Diner as a breakfast choice for her “$40 a Day” series that traveled around the country. The omelet she enjoyed will cost just $7.95.

Breakfast is served the entire day at Miss Katie’s. The lunch menu adds appetizers, sandwiches, a few entrees and “Blue Plate” specials. The dinner menu will feel very familiar to customers of Pitch’s, located near Brady Street, as both restaurants are owned by the Picciurro family. Dinner fare includes ribs, steaks, fried chicken and, of course, onion rings.

The onion rings, of the thin haystack variety, may be ordered by the basket ($5.75) or as a loaf ($6.75). Eat them quickly before they turn cold.

The lean, tender barbecue baby back ribs ($16.75) come with a good tangy sauce and are easy to eat without making a mess.

Sicilian steak is a specialty—the dinner menu offers a filet ($16.75), while lunch features a sandwich ($10.75). The beef is very tender and the breading has the right seasonings. Even though the sandwich offers a thinner cut of meat, it still arrives medium-rare as ordered.

Spanish meatloaf ($9.75) is more in the diner spirit. The meatloaf is a bit spicy, as chorizo is one of the ingredients. It is served over rice and comes with the fresh vegetable of the day.

Another option is a whitehouse sandwich ($8.50), a once-popular item that has nearly disappeared from menus. The sandwich includes slices of turkey breast and ham with Swiss cheese that is baked over bread slices. (The menu mentions a mushroom cream sauce, but there was not a mushroom to be found.)

Overall, Miss Katie’s is noteworthy for the small details. For example, the complimentary Italian bread puts most restaurants to shame. The salads are simple, but the sour cream blue cheese dressing is the real thing, with the sour cream and crumbled cheese arriving in separate containers. The hash brown potatoes with just a bit of onion make for fine diner fare.

The restaurant is often busy—some customers choose to eat at the bar—but the waitresses are very efficient and the food will arrive quickly. Miss Katie’s Diner appeals to a wide range of customers, including families, Marquette University students and those just looking for a beer. It’s also a classic place for a milkshake or a malted milk.

Miss Katie’s Diner

1900 W. Clybourn St.

(414) 344-0044

$-$$

Credit Cards: MC, VS, AX

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