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Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013

Best of Milwaukee 2013: Retail Food & Drink

Best grocery store, liquor store and more

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Cheese Selection

West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe
Multiple locations
wacheese-gifts.com

When it comes to cheese, Wisconsinites know best. West Allis Cheese & Sausage carries a wide selection of local and imported cheeses ranging in textures and tastes, from soft to crumbly, sweet to sharp. They’ve got American cheeses, cheddar cheeses, blue cheeses, goat cheeses, low-fat cheeses, cream cheeses, cheese curds and just about any type of cheese you can imagine (dessert cheeses?). Having trouble finding the right cheese for you? Visit their website and use their cheese pairing guide, or the cheesecyclopedia. (Brandon Miller)

 

Runners-up:

Whole Foods Market
Wisconsin Cheese Mart

 

Chocolatier

Indulgence Chocolatiers
Multiple locations
indulgencechocolatiers.com

Indulgence is owned by Chocolatier Julie Waterman and is a founding member of Wisconsin Artisan Food Producers Association. The company’s signature creations are its handcrafted chocolate truffles that come in a variety of decadent flavors. Indulgence also offers gourmet chocolate bars, toffees, s’mores kits, cocoa mixes and gift sets, as well as chocolate pairing classes, special event favors and dessert catering. The use of globally inspired ingredients and the finest chocolates provides Indulgence’s treats their rich flavor and melt-in-your-mouth qualities. Give in to your sweet tooth and try some of Indulgence’s luscious morsels today. (Amanda Sullivan)

 

Runners-up:

Kehr’s Candies
Red Elephant Chocolate Café
Atomic Chocolate Co.  

 

Farmers Market

West Allis Farmers Market
6501 W. National Ave.
414-302-8600

Open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the long-running market can be crowded so be prepared to park several blocks away. There are dozens of stalls with many friendly farmers who are helpful with information about their produce and will share favorite recipes for their vegetables and fruits. Often shoppers have their favorite vendors. The “singing farmer” is a particular favorite. Everything is fresh and local, sellers living within a 50-mile radius of the market. This market has a welcoming, friendly atmosphere where it feels good to buy fresh, buy local. (Mary Gleason)

 

Runners-up:

South Shore Farmers Market
Fondy Farmers Market

 

Fish Market

St. Paul Fish Company
400 N. Water St.
414-220-8383
stpaulfish.com

St. Paul Fish Company, located in the Historic Third Ward’s Milwaukee Public Market, offers top-notch fish and seafood at extremely affordable prices. The business’ case is a beauty to behold, filled with fresh fish and seafood, such as organic king salmon, red grouper, cleaned squid and jumbo wild gulf shrimp. St. Paul also has an oyster bar that offers a variety of grilled fish dinners, soups, salads, sandwiches and other specialties. And don’t forget about the lobster tank! If you’re craving fish or seafood and are on a budget, St. Paul Fish Company is the place to go. (A.S.)

 

Runners-up:

Empire Fish
Sendik’s Seafood Department

 

Grocery (Ethnic)

El Rey
Multiple Locations
elreyfoods.com

El Rey has several locations around the city, all of them convenient, but for the full experience head to its bustling supermarket-sized storefront at 916 S. Cesar Chavez Drive. It features a full bakery, a dine-in hot-food bar and enough produce for an entire farmer’s market. You can’t go wrong with any of the El Rey-brand products. For a simple meal, pick up some of their fresh salsa, their soft, savory tortillas and a pack of buttery Chihuahua cheese—the only three ingredients you’ll need to make the best quesadillas you’ll ever have. (Evan Rytlewski)

 

Runners-up:

Glorioso’s Italian Market
Pacific Produce

 

Grocery (Gourmet)

Produce

Sendik’s
Multiple Locations
sendiksmarket.com

If you are looking for better quality in your shopping experience, look no further than Sendik’s. Throughout the metro area customers know if they are looking for the freshest fruits and vegetables around, or a hard-to-find cheese, gorgeous meats and fish, a special wine, and beautiful flowers all under one roof, Sendik’s is the place to go. There is always a knowledgeable staff member around to answer a question, the folks in the deli custom slice sandwich meats and cheese with a smile, and if you need a hard-to-find ingredient, yep, you guessed it, Sendik’s will have it. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

 

Runners-up Gourmet Grocery:

Glorioso’s Italian Market
Whole Foods Market

 

Runners-up Produce:

Whole Foods Market
Outpost Natural Foods

 

Grocery (Natural Foods)

Outpost Natural Foods

Multiple locations
outpost.coop

For more than 40 years, Outpost Natural Foods has offered a diverse array of healthy products, a large percentage of which are FDA-certified organic and locally grown, as well as natural. “Natural,” for the record, means free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners. In a world of commercial supermarkets and GMO crops, the three Outpost stores are gems of the Milwaukee food scene. Explaining the choice of the name “Outpost,” a founder stated “We felt our effort in carrying pure foods at low cost is a pioneering one in this vast wasteland of depleted and processed foods.” (Selena Milewski)

 

Runners-up:

Trader Joe’s
Whole Foods Market
Riverwest Co-op

 

Liquor Store

Beer Selection

Wine Selection

Discount Liquor
Multiple Locations
discountliquorinc.com

Tired of paying too much for your liquor? Just can’t find that elusive beer no one has in stock? Wishing for a bigger wine variety than your local grocery store offers? Then it’s time to take a trip to Discount Liquor. Known for their amazing selection and reasonable prices, Discount Liquor has been a Milwaukee favorite since the 1960s. The staff is very knowledgeable and more than willing to answer questions, which can be a real help if you get overwhelmed by the multitude of choices. (S.H.G.)

 

Runners-up Liquor Store and Beer Selection:

Otto’s Wine & Spirits
Ray’s Wine & Spirits

 

Runners-up Wine Selection:

Ray’s Wine & Spirits
Thief Wine Shop & Bar

 

Meat Selection

Ray’s Butcher Shoppe
4640 W. Loomis Road
414-423-1322
raysbutchershoppe.com

Specializing in old-fashioned customer service, Ray’s is the discerning home chef or master griller’s preference. Ray’s offers a mouth-watering selection of the finest thick, juicy steaks and an array of custom cuts, pork, veal, poultry, fish and seafood, but the merchandise doesn’t stop there. Stop in for homemade fresh and smoked sausage, home-smoked hams, bacon and other smoked meats. Round out your meal with tasty deli side dishes and cheese trays, a variety of fine wine and beer, farm-fresh produce as well as gourmet condiments and groceries. If you are stumped on how to prepare your standing crown roast, don’t worry! Ray and his partner, Perry Pond, have you covered with recipes and tips to get the most flavor from your purchase. (Susan Berna)

 

Runners-up:

Bunzel’s Old-Fashioned Meat Market
Sendik’s
Whole Foods Market

 

Milwaukee-Made Cupcakes

Milwaukee Cupcake Company
316 N. Milwaukee St.
414-727-1209
milwaukeecupcakecompany.com

Did someone say cupcakes? Milwaukee Cupcake Company can fulfill your craving—be it for vanilla bean (The Cream City), peanut butter (The Third Ward), cookies and cream (The Riverwest) or seasonal flavors such as The Pumpkin Spice Latte. Created from scratch daily, the cupcake ingredients are sourced from locally based companies whenever possible. Milwaukee Cupcake’s cupcakes come in regular and mini sizes, as singles or dozens, with an abundance of gluten-free and vegan options available. (A.S.)

 

Runners-up:

Classy Girl Cupcakes
Baked Custom Desserts

 

Milwaukee-Made Soda

Sprecher Brewing Co.
701 W. Glendale Ave.
414-964-2739
sprecherbrewery.com

In 1985 Randal Sprecher broke off his employment at the Pabst Brewing Company with hopes to make a better tasting beer. Now, 28 years later, Sprecher Brewing Co. is one of Milwaukee’s best-loved brewers. But whereas Randal had his sights set on crafting beer, it is Sprecher’s sodas that have become the true Milwaukee classic. Known best for root beer offered at local spots throughout the city, Sprecher also makes specialty flavors like Grape, Orange Dream and Cherry Cola, using real Door County cherry juice. The company even offers a hard root beer perfect for a grown-up root beer float. The Sprecher brewery in Glendale also makes for one of the only local brewery tours that is good for the whole family, serving up to 20 beers for the 21 and over crowd and 10 different sodas for everyone to enjoy. (Erin Heffernan) 

 

Runners-up:

Black Bear Soda
Lakefront Brewery

 

Neighborhood Bakery

Peter Sciortino’s Bakery
1101 E. Brady St.
414-272-4623
petersciortinosbakery.com

Owned and operated by Giuseppe, Maria and Luigi Vella since 1997, this beloved shop was originally established by Peter C. and Grace Sciortino in 1948. While continuing to provide Milwaukee’s Lower East Side with freshly baked breads, cookies, cakes and cannoli, not to mention fine aromas, the Vellas have increased their offerings to include gelato, and wedding and specialty cakes. The store now ships worldwide, so everybody can enjoy the Italian traditions Sciortino’s has provided its neighborhood for 65 years. (Jay Peschman)

 

Runners-up:

National Bakery & Deli
Rocket Baby Bakery

 

Paczki

National Bakery & Deli
Multiple locations
nationalbakery.com

Traditional jelly-filled paczki are the stars of National Bakery & Deli’s offerings at its three locations in the Milwaukee area. The bakery celebrates the Polish Catholic tradition of eating jelly-filled donuts on Shrove Tuesday, before Lenten fasting begins, as “paczki day,” when all are encouraged to indulge. But they’re tasty year-round. Flavors include prune, raisin and raspberry and are dusted with powdered sugar or coated in glaze. (Lisa Kaiser)

 

Sausage Shop

Usinger’s
1030 N. Old World Third St.
414-276-9105
usinger.com


Sausage has always been associated with our city and Usinger’s has long been Milwaukee’s sausage king. Many of the recipes used today have changed little since 1880, when young German immigrant Fred Usinger was at the helm. These flavorful classics outgrew the tweaking stage long ago and have been on a steady, unchanging course of perfection ever since. Usinger’s products can easily be found in local markets, but check out the ornate, Teutonic interior of the Usinger’s shop on Old World Third. (Morton Shlabotnik)

 

Runners-up:


Glorioso’s Italian Market
European Homemade Sausage

 

Wedding Cake Designer


Simma’s Bakery

817 N. 68th St.
414-257-0998
simmasbakery.com


The popular Tosa bakery is known for many things, including luscious fruit tarts and scrumptious cheesecake. Simma’s also excels in wedding cakes, customizing them according to the ideas (and even pictures of favorite cakes) brought to them by customers. Simma’s can do it all, whether a cheesecake with raspberry filling and chocolate frosting or a marble cake topped with French butter cream. (M.S.)

 

Runners-up:


Make Cake Milwaukee
Baked Custom Desserts

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