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Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011

Zak's Café: A Hearty Start to the Day

New restaurant at the edge of Downtown Milwaukee

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Breakfast at Zak's Café can be a relaxing yet hearty start to the day for Downtown commuters from Bay View and points south. It sure beats gulping hot coffee on the Hoan or gobbling down a McWhatever from the drive-thru. Open at 6:30 a.m. Monday-Friday (and 7 a.m. on weekends), Zak's provides an opportunity for sipping some Alterra coffee and bulking up on eggs and toast served to your table. It's a quiet time for collecting your thoughts (or reading your email).

Open since summer, Zak's still smells of new wood and fresh carpentry. Wide ceiling-high windows, opening to the alley in back and Second Street in front, fill the place with light. One wall is old Milwaukee brick, and a mezzanine was added during the renovation. The view through the windows is Edward Hopper and Ash Can School, with century-old warehouses and, sometimes, a mile-long freight train rumbling slowly along the tracks by First Street.

For breakfast, you can construct your own omelet from a baker's dozen ingredients or go with a tofu fajita scramble, buttermilk pancakes or a gonzo breakfast burrito filled with scrambled eggs and served with hash browns and choice of bacon, sausage or ham. The warm fragrance of cinnamon rises from the brioche French toast, a stick-to-the-ribs serving dusted with powdered sugar, brightened with blueberries and sliced strawberries and served with Wisconsin maple syrup. Zak's is committed to using Badger State ingredients. Nueske's is the brand of thick-cut bacon offered for breakfast and on lunchtime BLTs.

The lunch menu (served until closing time) is heavy on sandwiches. The Kobe burger is attractively served and prepared to order. The turkey sandwich is topped with a tasty combination of greens and cranberry sauce on toasted sourdough bread. For a European twist on American comfort food, try the ham and cheese with an egg over-easy on top. Aside from the house and Caesar salads, vegetarian options are scarce. The soup of the day on a recent visit, vegetable beef, was closer to chicken noodle without the chicken, but was filling under any name.

Open until 9 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. on Saturdays, Zak's provides good, not-too-fancy evening food for the Walker's Point bar crowd. It also boasts a full bar for those still thirsty, including a small beer list. Service is attentive.

Zak's Café

231 S. Second St.

(414) 271-5555

$

Credit Cards: All Major

Handicap Accessible

Zaksdeli.com

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