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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

City Guide 2014: Dining Guide

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Whether you’re in the mood for burgers or sushi, you can find what you’re hungry for in the Shepherd Express’ City Guide dining guide. Compiled by some of Milwaukee’s top food critics, the Dining Guide is a guided tour of Milwaukee area restaurants from old favorites to new discoveries.

Reviews by Jeff Beutner (J.B.), Susan Harpt Grimes (S.H.G.), Lisa Kaiser (L.K.), David Luhrssen (D.L.), Kevin Lynch (K.L.), Selena Milewski (S.M.), Lora Nigro (L.N.), Emily Patti (E.P.) Jamie Lee Rake (J.L.R.), Evan Rytlewski (E.R.), John Schneider (J.S.), Danielle Stevens (D.S.) and Heather Zydek (H.Z.)

 

KEY

Prices of average entrée with soup or salad: $—$10 or less; $$—$11-$16; $$$—$17-$24; $$$$—$52-plus • Credit Cards Accepted: CC • Reservations Accepted: RS • Outdoor Dining: OD • Sunday Brunch: SB • Friday Fish Fry: FF • Full Bar: FB • Valet Parking: V • Late Night: LT • Lunch Buffet: LB • Gluten-free Menu: GF • No Alcohol Served: NA • All phone numbers area code 414 unless otherwise noted.

 

AFRICAN

 

Alem Ethiopian Village

307 E. Wisconsin Ave.

The food of Ethiopia can be fiery. Alem offers a gentler version, though their hot pepper sauce still has richness and depth of flavor. Try the doro wot, chicken with a hardboiled egg, prepared with this sauce. There are also beef and lamb versions of this dish. Half of the menu is vegetarian items. Most tend to be mildly spiced, mostly greens and lentils. Every entrée is served on injera, a round flatbread with a spongy texture. This is also your dining utensil. Dig in and have fun! (J.B.) $-$$. CC. LB. Handicap access. 224-5324

 

Ethiopian Cottage

1824 N. Farwell Ave.

The restaurant’s name refers to the traditional dwellings of Ethiopia, where the delicious stews redolent of Africa and the Near East were prepared over open fires and arrayed on a crepe-like sourdough called injera. The hearty tradition is kept alive at Ethiopian Cottage, which features an assortment of meat and vegetarian options plus Ethiopian beer, coffee, tea and honey wine. (D.L.) $. CC. LB. 224-5226

 

 

Sogal Café

1835 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Dr.

This tiny café is devoted to the food of Somalia, which has Indian touches like the sabbusas (called samosas in India) and Italian touches like spaghetti and polenta cakes. Somali beef steak is tasty with plenty of cracked black pepper, and there is also a nice goat and pepper soup, though it has plenty of bones. Try the Somali rice, a rainbow of red and saffron tones scented with cardamom. Alcohol is not served but there are coffee drinks and Somali tea. (J.B.) $. Handicapped Access: no. CC. NA. 231-9727

 

 

AMERICAN

 

Buck Bradley’s

1019 N. Old World Third St.

A saloon with 1890s charm with a bar said to be the longest east of the Mississippi. The dining room serves burgers, sandwiches, pizza, salads and a few dinner entrées. The Sicilian tenderloin is a treat. (J.B.) $$. CC. OD. RS. FF. FB. 224-8500

 

Champion Chicken

8718 W. Lisbon Ave.

A full service restaurant on the Northwest Side for decades, Champion Chicken’s spacious, dark interior has many quiet corners amid the barnwood walls and rustic ornaments. And if you want a delivery, you’re dinner may arrive in one of Champion Chicken’s famous trucks topped with the image of its namesake fowl. The menu is huge and unlike many chain-operated “family restaurants,” a full bar is available. The specialty, of course, is chicken in all its varieties. Especially good is the BBQ chicken pizza. (D.L.). $$. CC. FB. 462-6200

 

Comet Café

1947 N. Farwell Ave.

An all-in-one bar, restaurant and coffee shop, Comet Café cooks its comfort food from scratch using mostly local ingredients. Entrées are hearty and satisfying, with options including meatloaf with beer gravy, a turkey dinner and a vegan Salisbury steak (one of many vegetarian or vegan options). Among the more inspired sandwiches are the Leghorn (pulled chicken with vegetables topped with cream cheese and peach jelly) and a vegan gyro made with grilled seitan. Breakfast options, including pancakes made with bacon (one of the menu’s favorite ingredients), are served until 3 p.m. daily. (E.R.) $-$$. CC. OD. SB. FF. FB. Handicap access. 273-7677

 

Crabby's Bar & Grill

2113 E. Oklahoma Ave.

Crabby's Bar & Grill has been a Bay View fixture since 1964. A windowless dining room diminishes distractions allowing diners to focus on specialties ranging from Cajun, seafood, steaks and pasta dishes. Homemade dressings are a nice touch on the salads. Tuesdays through Thursdays and on Saturdays sample Francisco's classic thin crust pizzas featuring favorite traditional toppings. For those with a more adventurous side, try a cheese and kraut pizza topped with sauerkraut, caraway and sausage. (S.H.G) $$-$$$. CC. FF. FB. Handicap access. 769-9999

 

Eddie Martini’s

8612 Watertown Plank Road

Just before the renaissance in Milwaukee dining began in the late ’90s, Eddie’s opened a swanky retro steak and chop place with great food, four-star service and a snazzy, well-stocked bar. Many restaurants have come and gone since it was established in 1995, but Eddie Martini’s remains as busy as the day it opened. (D.L.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. OD. Handicap access. 771-6680

 

Griddlers Café

4160 W. Loomis Road, 545-6565

7510 W. Layton Ave., 281-9696

10706 W. Greenfield Ave., 727-7722

211 N. Chicago Ave., South Milwaukee, 762-8801

When several locations in the venerable George Webb franchise decided to break away under a new name, the owners gave the venues a gently modern facelift and updated the menu, offering more sides (including BBQ bacon beans and a side salad), expanded their breakfast offerings, and changed their coffee blend and chili. Among the most popular new additions to the menu is the Jalapeno Hangover Burger: a double cheeseburger with bacon, jalapenos and a fried egg. (E.R.) $.

 

Honeypie Bakery and Café

2643 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Honeypie’s menu is mainly sandwiches plus a few appetizers, entrées and salads. The theme is home-style Midwest cooking. Expect plenty of pork, chicken, turkey and bacon. The pork fries features Honeypie’s fine French fries smothered with pulled pork, bacon and cheese sauce. The Solid State is the ultimate open-faced roast turkey sandwich, a mountain of food with horseradish-mashed potatoes. This is true slow cooking, no shortcuts at all. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. OD. SB. Handicap access. 489-7437

 

Hubbard Park Lodge

3565 N. Morris Blvd.

Tucked away on the banks of the Milwaukee River, the Hubbard Park Lodge enjoys a scenic woodsy locale. Offering its rustic cathedral ceiling space for weddings and other events most days of the week, the Lodge also serves Friday Fish Fry and Sunday brunch. The former is a laid-back but organized affair with attentive servers, high quality surf and turf selections and a family friendly atmosphere (you probably will see small children dancing to the accordion music). The beer battered cod is a particularly tasty Wisconsin favorite, and the drink menu continues the local pride with selections from the Lakefront Brewery. (S.M.) $$. CC: All major. RS. SB. FF. FB. 332-4207

 

Indulge

708 N. Milwaukee St.

The choices here are charcuterie, wine or chocolate. Indulge in a wine of over 300 vintages and a charcuterie menu that ranges from duck prosciutto to speck and Serrano ham. The chocolate is merely the icing on the cake. Indulge! (J.B.) $$$$. CC. RS. Handicap access. 390-9463

 

Mason Street Grill

425 E. Mason St.

This grill at the Pfister Hotel features a casual setting, a bar room with fireplace, a dining room and a marble counter where patrons are able to watch the chefs at work. The menu includes excellent steaks, solid seafood and a fine onion soup, along with a less expensive bar menu. The Mason Street Grill sets standards far above typical hotel fare. (J.B.) $$-$$$$. CC. RS. OD. Handicap access. 298-3131

 

Mi-key’s Milwaukee

811 N. Jefferson St.

A chic cocktail lounge with commanding views of Cathedral Square Park, Mi-key’s menu aims at all-American with entrees such as roast chicken, meatloaf and baked mac’n’cheese. Sandwiches are offered, along with deviled eggs as a starter. How retro! (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. FF. LT. RS. 273-5397

 

Motor Bar & Restaurant

401 W. Canal St.

The Harley-Davidson Museum restaurant is as architecturally impressive as the galleries. The dining room and the outdoor terrace boast serene views of the Menomonee River. The menu focuses on Wisconsin and the Midwest, including booyah, a soup thick as a stew and said to originate in Green Bay. Entrées include homey fare like mac’n’cheese, fish fry, steak and BBQ ribs. Portions tend to be large. While the museum is recommended, Motor has a setting and food that are worthy of a visit too. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. RS for 8+. FB. OD. Handicap access. 287-2778

 

Open Flame

5081 S. 108th St.

Although there is a martini menu, don’t expect anything trendy from the kitchen. Go for all-American fare like plump roast chickens or sliced roast pork with real mashed potatoes and gravy. The renovated interior of the former Omega has a clubby feel with dark woodwork and a spacious lounge. The priciest items are chargrilled steaks and chops, but even here there are bargains. It’s a family friendly place that just happens to serve cocktails. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FF. SB. RS. OD. Handicap access. 425-5177

 

Open Hearth

2930 N. 117th St.

As the name suggests, Open Hearth offers warm, romantic, family-style dining. Offering American and German cuisine, seafood and steak, Open Hearth carries the kind of substantial food that sticks to the ribs. Don’t be surprised to find a stuffed baked potato sitting on every plate. The fish fry comes in a wide variety of options, and there is themed dining (e.g. “Steak Night”). Take a date and enjoy some live music, or book a special event. Open Hearth is the perfect place to host showers, receptions, Bar Mitzvahs or any other kind of party you want to throw. Entrées are served with salad and bread. (D.S.) $$$. CC. FB. FF. OD. Handicap access. 475-0839

 

Palomino

2491 S. Superior St.

Palomino has a new interior and a new menu. It’s still Southern at heart, offering po’ boy sandwiches and smoked brisket. Entrées include more brisket, etouffee and fried chicken with gravy. Sides complete the bill with cheese grits, collard greens and house dill pickles. Southern restaurants are scarce in these parts. There should be more like this. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. FF. SB. 747-1007

 

Range Line Inn

2635 W. Mequon Road

Though surrounded by subdivisions, this vintage 19th-century inn offers quiet, countrified charm. The traditional American menu offers thick steaks, chops and big racks of ribs. Don’t miss the homemade dinner rolls, onion rings and potato chips. Saturday features prime rib and roast duck. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. RS. FF. FB. 262-242-0530

 

Swingin’ Door Exchange Saloon and Eatery

219 E. Michigan St.

The Swingin’ Door Exchange is a classic post-Prohibition tavern in the landmark Grain Exchange building. The bar still retains its original table and there is a back dining room for those who arrive just for food. The menu has casual fare, mostly sandwiches and appetizers. But entrées include a few steaks, ahi tuna and BBQ ribs. Also there are daily specials at moderate prices and a Friday fish fry that often includes bluegill. A fun place to drink, eat and socialize. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. FF. SB. Handicap access. 276-8150

 

Victor’s Nightclub

1230 N. Van Buren St.

Though Victor’s is better known as a singles spot, dinners are served before 9:30 p.m. The menu is typical supper-club fare with steaks, lobster, chops and crab legs. Portions are generous, including the Friday fish fry; prime rib smothered with mushrooms is served everyday. The lights are bright and the volume a bit high, but the food quality more than compensates. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FF. FB. 272-2522

 

Zak’s Café

231 S. Second St.

Zak’s menu has evolved from breakfast and lunch into the dinners that now define the menu. Belgian waffles, lobster Benedict and sweet potato hash are countered by seared duck breast, crab-stuffed walleye and pan-seared scallops. There is also more homey fare such as meatloaf and BBQ ribs. Zak’s pleases all sorts of appetites. (J.B.) $. CC. FB. OD.  Handicap access. 271-5555

 

ARMENIAN

 

Arin Bert

222 W. Wells St.

The menu includes pita wraps, chicken, beef and pork kabobs and falafel made in house with a softer texture than usual. The platters include a choice of two side dishes and these are the stars of the meal. Turshi is pickled cabbage with celery, carrot, red pepper and peppercorns. Kalenjian salad is romaine lettuce with a bold herbed vinaigrette. The carrot salad is processed into threads and has an addictive sweet flavor. Adjiga is a gently-spiced purée of red beans. The beet and potato salad is creamy, very Russian in flavor. The tabouli is the familiar parsley and cracked wheat salad of the Middle East, perfect with the falafel. (J.B.) $. CC. 755-2810

 

 

ASIAN FUSION

 

Juto

605 W. Virginia St.

Small plates are the specialty here. Many have Asian touches mixed with items like Parmesan garlic chicken wings and breaded provolone meatballs. Fusion items include peppercorn steak sushi and cheese steak pot stickers where Asia meets Philadelphia. Korean flavors appear in a salad with kimchi vinaigrette and kalbi lettuce wraps. Saturday through Monday also offers Vietnamese pho, a large bowl ranking with the very best found locally. (J.B.) $$. CC. RS. Handicap access. 988-9115

 

Kanpai

408 E. Chicago St.

The elaborate wood sushi bar is an attraction in itself. So is the sushi. The signature rolls are elaborate presentations. Try the suri toro nigiri sushi, the belly of hamachi or yellowtail. This is a sister restaurant to Brookfield’s Wasabi and the menu follows the Japanese fusion theme, although it is not identical and includes innovative small plates. Grilled sea scallops are served over orzo pasta and jalapeno poppers are stuffed with wagyu beef. Expect to be frequently surprised. (J.B.) $$$. CC. RS. FB. Handicap access. 220-1155

 

Mekong Café

5930 W. North Ave.

The varied cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos meet on one menu. Begin with ban xio, Vietnamese crepes with a golden color from turmeric and the sweetness of coconut milk, then perhaps a Thai curry or seafood dumplings in a sweet brown sauce. The more adventurous will want to try the homemade Laotian sausages with a fiery kick of hot pepper. Finish with a dessert of deep-fried taro or purple sticky rice pudding. This kitchen cooks with the confidence that ranks this café with the very best purveyors of Southeast Asian food. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. 257-2228

 

NaNa Asian Fusion & Sushi Bar

4511 N. Oakland Ave.

The front room has a sushi bar, but sushi is not the only attraction. Many fusion entrées are listed by the sauce (Japanese eggplant garlic, Szechuan peppercorn, Malaysian curry, etc.) and you choose a meat or tofu for it. Vegetables are also added. You might be surprised with asparagus or jicama. Everything is fresh. The sushi selection is good and includes toro. For variety order the sunomono which includes six different sashimis for a modest price. The décor is warm and serene. (J.B.) $$. CC. Handicap access. 967-8888

 

RuYi

1721 W. Canal St. (Potawatomi Bingo Casino)

Take a break from bingo and slots and pay a visit to RuYi, a casual spot that serves some fine Asian fare at Potawatomi Casino. The restaurant is small but the menu has large ambitions with the flavors of Japan, China, Korea and Southeast Asia. Papaya salad and Korean beef are perfectly good but the best items tend to be Chinese. The jumbo pot stickers are definitive and the shrimp with spicy salt and pepper is splendid. The noise level is the sole drawback, just a reminder that the slot machines are still waiting for you. (J.B.) $$. CC. LT. Handicap access. 847-7335

 

Sake Tumi

714 N. Milwaukee St.

Situated within Milwaukee Street’s thriving scene of bars and restaurants, Sake Tumi’s centerpiece is a long sushi bar that dominates the dining area. Sake Tumi's original menu was a pioneer in Asian fusion, offering a few Korean items along with Japanese cuisine. That tradition continues, as today's menu expands its options for Korean food and adds some Chinese dishes as well. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 224-7253

 

Tochi

2107 E. Capitol Dr.

The former Anaba Tea Room has a revamped interior and a focus on ramen noodles. But the other ingredients matter, with carefully chosen soy sauces, smoked tofu and the liberal use of pork belly. The ingredients tend to break a few rules, ending up with delicious results. A “Wisconsin Ramen” even manages to use onions, beer, mustard, bratwurst and sauerkraut as ingredients! The setting is serene and the service is nice. Do start with the pork steamed buns or a bowl of shishitos peppers. (J.B.) $$. CC. Handicap access. 963-9510.

 

 

 

BAR FOOD/BEER PUBS

 

Allium

2101 N. Prospect Ave.

European charm abounds in this quaint bar that also happens to serve food. Most of the seating is at small, intimate tables. Enjoy a glass of wine or one of the craft or European beers. The menu is designed to accompany the drinks, with cheese plate, charcuterie, crostini, salads and mini-pizzas. Perfect for a relaxing evening. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. OD. RS. 287-2053

 

Barnacle Bud’s

1955 S. Hilbert St.

Barnacle Bud’s is hidden among old warehouses and grain elevators and is filled with nautical kitsch. The main draw is a large wooden deck overlooking the Kinnickinnic River. Yes, there is a boat dock. The small menu sticks to sandwiches, salads, a few entrées, jumbo crab cake and some good soups and seafood pastas. (J.B.) $-$$. FF. FB. SB. OD. 481-9974

 

Benno’s Genuine Bar & Grill

7413 W. Greenfield Ave.

In addition to a fantastic beer selection, Benno’s offers an impressive assortment of typical pub fare, ranging from burgers and chicken wings to classic Reuben sandwiches and deep-fried appetizers. Burgers, including turkey and veggie selections, are served with plain fresh-cut fries or fresh cut fries with garlic Romano seasoning. (E.P.) $-$$. FB. 453-9094

 

Distil

722 N. Milwaukee St.

The entrance is discrete, a bit like a speakeasy. The interior is dark and the bar is long. Distil is the place to order carefully prepared craft cocktails. The menu isn’t large but offers suitable ballast, with sliders made from Nueske’s bacon, hormone-free beef or BBQ chicken. There are flatbreads, fries with garlic aioli and a pork belly starter. (J.B.) $$. FB. 220-9411

 

Erv’s Mug

130 W. Ryan Road

It’s neither fancy nor seedy. Erv’s Mug offers casual fine dining in a warm setting filled from floor to ceiling with trinkets, bar mirrors and memorabilia. It offers an above-average bar food menu with burgers, salads, ribs, sandwiches, wraps, steak, fish fries, brunch and desserts. Their specialty drink menu features blended, fruity, ice cream, hot drinks and a cornucopia of martinis. Erv’s has a party room and caters events as well. (D.S.) $$. CC. SB. FF. FB. Handicap access. 762-5010

 

The Harp Irish Pub

113 E. Juneau Ave.

The Harp, with its popular deck on the Milwaukee River, has done an exemplary job of bridging authentic pub traditions—great beer, atmosphere and Irish pride—with clever updates. Alongside pub-grub standards, such as modestly priced Reubens, fish fries and burgers, you’ll also find menu items that are a bit more contemporary, like a spicy Sriracha chicken sandwich and a chipotle chicken wrap. The $5 lunch special—a quarter-pound cheeseburger with fries, pickle and soda—is great for those on a budget, as are the daily drink specials. (L.K.) $-$$. CC. OD. FF. FB. Handicap access. 289-0700

 

Hooligan’s Super Bar

2017 E. North Ave.

Hooligan’s is the place to see and be seen, with its busy patio overlooking central North Avenue. The bar food (including soups, salads, entrées, fish fry, wraps, melts, sandwiches, burgers, wings and nachos) is among the best in the city. They even serve a delicious low-fat garden burger for vegetarians. Hooligan’s happy hour includes half-off all appetizers 4-7 p.m., Monday through Friday. (D.S.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. FF. 273-5230

 

Leff’s Lucky Town

7208 W. State St.

Leff's Lucky Town puts to rest the notion that neighborhood bars have to be dark and dingy. A wall of windows, including a garage door-style window that opens to warm weather patio seating, achieves a bright, airy feel. Lunch and happy hour specials draw patrons daily. Hometown products add to the neighborly feel of Leff's, including offerings from Lakefront Brewery, Great Lakes Distillery, Palermo's Pizza and Bunzel's meats. (S.H.G.) $-$$. CC: VS, MC, DS. Handicap access. 258-9886

 

McBob's Pub & Grill

4919 W. North Ave.

Corned beef fans in Milwaukee have staunchly declared their support for Jake's or Benji's, but may find a new favorite in McBob's. The corned beef is melt-in-your-mouth tender, and sandwiches are enhanced by horseradish mustard spread. Fish fry offerings on Wednesday and Friday are also a pleasure when McBob's serves up fried perch, walleye, grouper and broiled halibut. Celtic tacos and pizzas are features on other days, and breakfast is available Friday-Monday. (S.H.G.)  $-$$. CC: VS, MC, DS. Handicap access. 871-5050

 

Milwaukee Ale House

233 N. Water St., 276-2337

1208 13th Ave., Grafton, 262-375-2337

The Ale House serves more than 10 of its own products including one of the best local amber ales—Louie’s Demise. The setting is casual with a large bar, dining room and balcony overlooking the Milwaukee River. The menu includes sandwiches, salads, pizzas, pastas and heartier entrées like pot roast and BBQ ribs. Fridays offer one of the city’s better fish fries. (J.B.) $$. FB. OD. FF. Handicap access.

 

Oscar’s Pub & Grill

1712 W. Pierce St.

Although inconspicuously tucked into an industrial district in between the 16th Street Viaduct and National Avenue, Oscar’s has attracted a large lunch crowd for its deliciously prepared Angus burgers (eight varieties on the menu), served on a superb bun with fries sprinkled in grated cheese. With friendly service and the look and feel of a neighborhood bar, Oscar’s is appealing any time of day. Stop in for some conversation and select from the two-dozen beers offered, including imports on tap. (D.L.) $-$$. FB. 810-1820

 

O’Lydia’s Bar & Grill

338 S. First St.

O’Lydia’s is located in the former Slim McGinn’s, a classic Milwaukee corner bar. The menu has the same low prices and the same general feel. Soups, potato chips and fries are all homemade. The menu is mainly appetizers, salads and sandwiches, plus a few daily dinner specials. Reuben rolls are a specialty as is the corned beef sandwich. Friday offers a popular fish fry. Choose your setting from the original bar room to a glassed-in patio and a few outdoor tables. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. FF. SB. Handicap access. 271-7546

 

Safe House

779 N. Front St.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Cloak yourself in a trench coat and dark sunglasses. Walk down a dark alley. You will find a red, unmarked door. You will need to give the secret password. Only then, shall you gain entrance into International Exports LTD, aka The Safe House. This spy-themed restaurant/night spot is only advertised through word of mouth. Fulfill your yearning for top-secret espionage, secret intelligence and clandestine surveillance in the establishment’s dark interiors. This secret refuge also serves food in its secluded booths and hosts parties. See if you can find one of the several secret doors to get out. (D.S.) $$. CC. RS. FF. FB. Handicap access. 271-2007

 

St. Francis Brewery & Restaurant

3825 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

The brewery produces five of its own beers, focusing on ales. Most popular is the KK Weiss, served in the proper glass. The menu has all the appetizers necessary for beer drinkers, from pretzels to chicken wings and nachos. Sandwiches include burgers, pulled pork and a Reuben. Among the entrées are chicken potpie, baby back ribs and a noteworthy beer steak. (J.B.) $$-$$$. FB. FF. Handicap access. 744-4448

 

Stonefly Brewing Co.

735 E. Center St.

Stonefly is smaller than most brewpubs but produces good malt products and offers other beers as well. It’s very casual with a menu to match. Flatbread pizzas and burgers are among the expected pub fare, but Stonefly also caters to vegetarian and vegan customers and is willing to customize any dish. Of note are the tasty chicken potpie and an appetizer of beer-battered deep-fried bacon. (J.B.) $-$$. FF. CC. Handicap access. 212-8910

 

Stubby's Gastrogrub & Beer Bar

2060 N. Humboldt Ave.

Stubby’s is as much about beer as it is about food. The list is a select one with 53 craft beers on tap and a list of reserve bottles. The setting is casual with windows and a deck overlooking the Milwaukee River. The menu wanders from common to uncommon bar fare. Bluegill sliders and pork belly share the kitchen with jumbo burgers and rotisserie chicken. Stubby’s is a summertime hot spot. (J.B.) RS. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 763-6324

 

The Tracks Tavern & Grill

1020 E. Locust St.

Riverwest isn’t known for sports bars, but you can definitely get your football, baseball and volleyball on at The Tracks Tavern & Grill. This centrally located, spacious bar/restaurant has several huge HDTVs, a large patio and fairly large parking lot. What they are known for, however, are their spring and summer co-ed volleyball leagues, with their own sand pits. But even during the off season, the bar is always bustling with regulars. The Tracks has 16 beers on draft and a satisfying selection of bar food, such as quesadillas, burgers and cheese curds. (D.S.) $. CC. FF. OD. 562-2020

 

Water Street Brewery

1101 N. Water St., 272-1195

3191 Golf Road, Delafield, 262-646-7878

2615 Washington Street, Grafton, 262-375-2222

Milwaukee’s first brew pub opened on Water Street in 1987. Now there are three. The crowds still come for the hearty sandwiches, salads, pretzels and sausage platters. The walls are lined with Wisconsin beer memorabilia. Entrées start with salads and move upscale to BBQ ribs and rib-eye. (J.B.) $$. CC. GF. FF. RS. FB. OD. LT.

 

The Wicked Hop

345 N. Broadway

One of the noisy hubs of the Third Ward, The Wicked Hop is a comfortable corner bar making good use of its historic Cream City brick shell. Usually crowded at lunch and after work, the Hop serves quality bar food—chicken wings and wraps, burgers and melts, quesadillas and excellent nachos smothered in cheddar and jalapenos. On tap is a good selection of Wisconsin and imported beers. (D.L.) $. CC. FB. OD. FF. Handicap access. 223-0345

 

BBQ

 

Ashley's Bar-B-Que

1501 W. Center St.

At Ashley’s Bar-B-Que, takeout is the only option. But with specialties not found at bigger chain restaurants and a family ownership history that extends back to the 1960s, it’s an option worth taking. Ribs and barbecued goat are among the favorites. The sauce is so good it should be sold in bottles. (J.L.R.) $-$$. Cash Only. NA. Handicap access. 372-7666

 

Ashley’s Que

124 W. National Ave.

The original Ashley’s is an inner city venue offering only carry-outs. Ashley’s Que sports a prime Walker’s Point location with many tables and a bar. The specialty is barbeque and Ashley’s has one of the best spicy and tangy sauces around. The pulled pork, rib tips and chicken are best, though a very good fried chicken is served. Also consider the shrimp and grits. Sandwiches are available too, but barbeque is the king here. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. OD. FB. Handicap access. 276-7666

 

Big Daddy’s Brew & Que

5800 N. Bayshore Drive

A shopping mall is an unlikely setting for a BBQ joint but this one works. They serve wood-smoked meats properly—usually dry with no sauce. Choose your sauce at the tables. Among the options are St. Louis ribs, pulled pork and chicken, and beef brisket. The “Pig Trough” includes samples of all the meats and serves at least five diners. The bar is a fine shopping mall refuge, a place to enjoy a few beers. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 203-0404

 

 

Carson’s

301 W. Juneau Ave.

This is a new outpost of a venerated Chicago classic. BBQ ribs and aged steaks are the specialty. The ribs are properly smoked and the meat sticks to the bone. The steaks are succulent, though red meat is not the only thing worth ordering. Grilled salmon is a fine choice and the roasted Greek chicken qualifies as inexpensive. And do try the big crab cake that is loaded with meat, not binder. Lunch is served daily. (J.B.) $$$. CC. RS. FB. V. Handicap access. 223-3311

 

Famous Dave’s

5077 S. 27th St., 727-1940

2137 E. Moreland Blvd., Waukesha, 262-522-3210

Founded in Hayward, Wisconsin, it’s not surprising that the décor is where knotty pine and Leinenkugels meet. The specialty is BBQ and Famous Dave’s is now found in many states. The food is served with sauce already applied; the BBQ chicken is especially good. This is true Northwoods fun. Have another rib. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB.

 

Puddle Jumpers BBQ

4939 S. Howell Ave.

Puddle Jumpers is a casual spot near the airport with new owners and a new menu. Chicken, pulled pork, ribs and beef brisket are among the smoked meats served here. Order at the counter and the food will be delivered to your table. Of note are the sauces, which include everything from sweet to tangy. Other choices include smoked brisket chili, tacos and a smoked Portobello sandwich. (J.B.) $$. CC. NA. Handicap access. 482-2271

 

Silver Spur Texas Smokehouse BBQ

13275 Watertown Plank Road

The setting is country charm in the heart of Elm Grove. The wood smoker produces some fine BBQ. Everything from the beef brisket to the St. Louis ribs has a great wood-smoked flavor. The menu also features entrée salads, sandwiches and Tex-Mex entrées such as seafood tacos and chicken-fried steak. Modest prices and a comfortable setting make this a very popular spot. (J.B.) $$. OD. FF. Handicap access. 262-821-1511

 

Smoke Shack

332 N. Milwaukee St.

The tiny Smoke Shack features wood-smoked hormone and anti-biotic free meats. Choices include chicken, pork, beef brisket and sausage. The platters are served with or without sauce, but the baby ribs are fine without the sauce thanks to the wood-smoked flavor. The meats are also served in sandwiches and there are two vegetarian sandwiches. Start with candied bacon or a fine roasted poblano corn chowder and finish with pecan pie with whiskey ice cream. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. OD. FB. GF. Handicap access. 431-1119

 

Speed Queen Bar-B-Q

1130 W. Walnut St.

Speed Queen is a longtime Milwaukee institution. Various beef, pork and turkey cuts come in sandwiches and full dinners, all with sides of coleslaw to cool off the tanginess (even the mild sauce packs a little wallop). For light eaters, portions are often hearty enough to suffice for two meals. Fried fish, baked beans and a few pie varieties are among the other options. (J.L.R.) $-$$. Cash Only. NA. 265-2900

 

BRAZILIAN

 

Rodizio Grill

777 N. Water St.

Rodizio replaces Sabor as the Milwaukee area’s only Brazilian churrascaria. The setting remains luxurious with spacious dining areas. The full dining experience begins with delicious cheese bread and a massive salad bar that also includes a few hot items. Then servers dressed as gauchos bring skewers of assorted grilled meats to be carved at the tables. You will find pork, sausage, beef and poultry among the many options. Bring your appetite as the fixed price is all-you-can-eat. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. RS. FB. V. LB. Handicap access. 431-3106

 

BRITISH

 

John Hawks Pub

100 E. Wisconsin Ave.

It’s not exactly a tea-and-scones, steak-and-kidney pie kind of place, but there are touches of England among the tap beers, on the menu and in the decor. It’s a favorite downtown lunch spot for burgers and other American staples, and a great place to sit by the Milwaukee River during the warm season. (D.L.) CC. RS. OD. FF. FB. Handicap access. 272-3199

 

Three Lions Pub

4515 N. Oakland Ave.

Founded in 2011, this British-style pub offers both English and American cuisine. Scotch eggs, traditional poutine and Welsh rarebit are on the starter menu, and entrées include English fish and chips, a half-pound burger and three types of pies (shepherd’s, cottage and garden). Sports fans, you’ll appreciate the constant soccer, football and baseball coverage on Three Lion’s giant projection screen and four flat-screen HDTVs. $$-$$$. CC. FB. 763-6992

 

BURGERS

 

Dr. Dawg

6969 N. Port Washington Road, 540-0400

7700 W. Layton Ave., 810-1900

“Comfort food with a healthy twist” is the motto at Dr. Dawg located in Glendale Market. This fast-food gourmet sandwich restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating, goes out of its way to be inventive. In addition to authentic Chicago-style hot dogs, they carry char-grilled burgers, duck sausage, Italian sausage, veggie sausage, Mexican tamales, Vienna beef franks, hand-cut skin-on fries and more. However, the major twist at Dr. Dawg is that their prime-grade meats are fresh, with no hormones, antibiotics, preservatives or trans fats included. (D.S.) $. CC. OD. Handicap access.

 

Jake’s Burger

18905 W. Capitol Dr.

Jake’s occupies the site of Haute Taco. Burgers now rule the joint but are not limited to beef. Try the tuna Nicoise, crispy cod or portabella mushroom burgers. The house specialty combines short ribs, brisket and sirloin. Burger making is taken seriously here. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. OD. RS. Handicap access. 262-781-1110

 

Mazos

3146 S. 27th St.

The cozy diner is known for its burgers and real ice cream malts and milkshakes. The burgers are big, made from lean beef ground daily on site. The only other sandwich options are a Reuben, grilled cheese and BLT. Mazos is a longtime Milwaukee favorite, operating from its present location since 1948. (J.B.) $. CC. 671-2118

 

Sobelman’s

1900 W. St. Paul Ave., 931-1919

1601 W. Wells St., 933-1601 (Marquette location)

Sobelman’s serves some of the best burgers in town, at least in part on account of a good bakery. The one-third pounder, cooked on the open grill behind the bar, is a fine accessory for a beer, a shot or even a cocktail. The original Sobelman’s is a great place to get lost on the way to Potawatomi. The newer venue is popular with Marquette students. (D.L.) $. CC. FF. FB. OD.

 

Solly’s Grille

4629 N. Port Washington Road

There are a few local spots that are famed for their hamburgers. One of the oldest is Solly’s Grille, in business since 1936. The interior is a classic lunch counter in the shape of a double horseshoe. The burgers are 100% sirloin, but that is not the only key to a Solly’s burger. They are prepared with a lot of butter. Try the Super Solly, which is a bit bigger with a 1/3 lb. patty. These burgers have a buttery richness that Paula Deen would surely love. (J.B.) $. CC. FF. Handicap access. 332-8808

 

Stack’d

170 S. First St.

Stack’d bills itself as a burger bar but the feel is more like a lounge in a setting of rustbelt chic. Burgers are the specialty. A decent mac ’n’ cheese is another option. Some appetizers arrive in tall stacks, like the loaded potatoes and the great thick-cut onion rings. This is a nice setting for a glass of wine or one of the well-chosen beers. Plus there are milkshakes. Try a chocolate truffle alcohol-free or spiked. Prices are moderate. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. OD. GF. FB. Handicap access. 273-7800

 

CAJUN

 

Maxie’s Southern Comfort

6732 W. Fairview Ave.

Maxie’s offers Southern food and hospitality. While much is Louisiana in inspiration starting with gumbo, jambalaya and po’ boy sandwiches, there is Carolina pulled pork and shrimp with grits. Check out the fresh seafood and oysters on the half shell. Save room for the peach pie. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. RS. FB. FF. Handicap access. 292-3969

 

CARIBBEAN

 

Irie Palace

7506 W. Appleton Ave.

This unassuming place is a mecca for those in search of authentic Jamaican fare. The jerk is a work of art with the flavors of allspice and a hint of scotch bonnet pepper. You will find curry goat, oxtails and maybe even cow foot along with curried chicken and shrimp. Call ahead to have the fish prepared to order. The décor is nothing fancy but comfortable, and the bar is amply stocked with Red Stripe beer.  (J.B.) $-$$. CC. Handicap access. 461-8203

 

Painted Parrot

8028 W. National Ave.

The Painted Parrot combines the flavors of Jamaica with a few Cajun and Mexican touches. The setting is casual and colorful with murals of Jamaican musicians. The nachos are a huge serving and the gumbo good enough. Try the jammin’ chicken or pork in a mildly spicy Jamaican jerk sauce. This is many miles from the islands but a fun place with hints of the Caribbean. (J.B.) $$. CC. FF. RS. 257-1012

 

CHINESE

 

China Gourmet

117 E. Wells St.

China Gourmet is known for its fine menu and superb weekday lunch and weekend dinner buffets. The menu offers unique items, particularly a spicy escargot appetizer and many regional Chinese dishes, the priciest being prepared with Maine lobster. Mu shu crepes are a house specialty, vegetarians will fare well and the duck here is excellent. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 272-1688

 

Chinese Pagoda

7200 W. North Ave.

For more than 50 years the Chinese Pagoda has been serving up solid Cantonese fare. Bright green booths and dark paneled walls are what you'd expect to see in such a long-standing, traditional operation. A full menu is available, but the lunch or dinner buffet is popular with the clientele and one of the best deals in town. The broccoli and beef, peanut pork and fresh crispy Canton fried chicken are standouts. Service is pleasant and attentive. (S.H.G.) $-$$. CC: VS, MC, AmEx. FB. FF. RS. Handicap access. 774-8400  

 

East Garden

3600 N. Oakland Ave.

Dark and outdated, East Garden’s dining room is a bit of an afterthought since so many patrons of this Shorewood institution opt for delivery or takeout, though those who do dine in will be greeted by fast, friendly service. Whether you eat it there or take it to go, the food is fresher and less greasy than most American-Chinese restaurants, and the menu hides some truly unexpected vegetarian options, including a meaty, sesame-chicken-styled tofu dish like little else found at other area Chinese restaurants. (E.R.) $$. CC. RS. FB. 962-7460

 

Emperor of China

1010 E. Brady St.

A perennial favorite in Shepherd Express readers’ polls, Emperor of China has been a standout since the day it opened. The interior resembles an Oriental Deco grotto with textured walls, low ceiling and an elegant arrangement of Oriental artifacts. Soft Chinese music plays in the background. Service is prompt and friendly and the food is freshened with good ingredients. Portions are generous and modestly priced. (D.L.) $$. CC. RS. FB. Handicap access. 271-8889

 

Fortune Chinese Restaurant

2945 S. 108th St., 328-9890

5512 S. 108th St., 529-9988

If your idea of Chinese food is chicken chop suey and sesame chicken, ask for the standard menu. Otherwise, ask for the authentic Chinese menu, where you’ll find spicy shrimp, crispy skin chicken and even duck feet with Chinese mushrooms. The newer Hales Corners location has the nicer setting, but both have excellent food. Fortune is popular with the local Chinese community for good reason. (J.B.) $-$$. CC.

 

Huan Xi

2428 N. Murray Ave.

The regular menu looks like any other Chinese carryout place, but the prices are a bit lower than usual and many of the entrées can be purchased as half-orders. What’s special is the other menu of regional Chinese fare uncompromised for American tastes. (J.B.) $-$$. NA. 906-8888

 

 

Jing’s

207 E. Buffalo St., Suite 101

A busy Downtown spot for carry-outs and sit-down lunches, Jing’s features a Chinese-American buffet with few surprises in its selection of pork-fried rice, egg drop soup and crab Rangoon—think Oriental comfort food. The flavors are distinct and ordering from the menu has gained in popularity. The setting is distinct, modern and elegant, with an exposed brick outer wall and pastel plaster minimally adorned with framed calligraphy. Jing’s also has a “Special Menu” with authentic Shanghai fare. (D.L.) $$. CC. LB. Handicap access. 271-7788

 

Lucky Liu’s

1664 N. Van Buren St.

Are you torn between an order of kung pao shrimp and California roll? Then Luck Liu’s is the place for you. The menu is half Japanese and half Chinese. They also offer delivery of the entire menu. Have that fire dragon maki roll at home. The Japanese side is mainly sushi and sashimi, no tempura or teriyaki dishes. The Chinese is more extensive with a fine vegetarian ma po tofu and bacon pan-fried shrimp made with a skillful dark sauce. Prices are on the low end, especially for lunch. Everything is prepared to order. (J.B.) $-$$ CC. Handicap access. 223-1699

 

Peony Dim Sum

11120 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield

Peony is the area’s sole choice for a proper dim sum menu. The steamed dumplings and shrimp are delicious, as are the small crepes wrapped around roasted duck meat. Conges are rice gruel soups with a variety of ingredients. The menu ranges from duck spring rolls to chicken feet and spiced tripe. There also is an extensive regional Chinese menu but the dim sum makes Peony truly unique. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. OD. FB. Handicap access. 443-6455

 

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

2500 N. Mayfair Road (Mayfair Mall)

Though a national chain, the Chinese food here is quite acceptable. Regional favorites include Peking dumplings, Mongolian beef and Szechuan long beans. Start with chicken in lettuce wraps and finish with a banana spring roll. More malls should have restaurants this good. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 607-1029

 

William Ho’s

3524 N. Oakland Ave.

William Ho’s serves quintessential American-Chinese food: greasy, salty and overcooked. That’s not a novel niche, but this longstanding Shorewood restaurant stands out for its specialties: a bargain lunch buffet, inspired vegetarian options (which include orange-chicken-style tofu and a tofu casserole) and particularly its seafood menu. Fresh lobster and crab are served steamed or stir-fried, and at generous prices, and the shrimp is plump and well prepared. Even with its colorful, Chinese decorations, William Ho’s dining room is a little dark and dusty, so many regulars opt for takeout or delivery. (E.R.) $. CC. LB. RS. FB. 963-9781

 

COFFEE HOUSES AND BAKERIES

 

Amaranth Bakery & Café

3329 W. Lisbon Ave.

 Cozy and adorable, this bakery and deli, ensconced in Milwaukee’s Walnut Hill neighborhood specializes in handmade artisan breads. In addition to pastries, bagels and baked goods, the daily changing menu features healthy, fresh organic breakfasts and lunches. On the menu, you’ll see a lot of words like: couscous, tabouleh and quinoa included in the descriptions of the sandwiches, salads, soups and entrées. As you might’ve guessed, it is very vegetarian and vegan friendly. (D.S.) $. CC. 934-0587

 

Anodyne Coffee Roasters

2920 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Bay View Café, 489-0765

224 W. Bruce Street, Walker’s Point Roastery, 276-8081

Big sunny windows bring light into the cleanly designed interior of this coffeemaker-cum-coffee shop. A wide variety of tea is also on tap along with bagels and other bakery. The low hum of the coffee grinders doesn’t disturb the relaxed conversational ambience. (D.L.) $. CC. Handicap access.

 

 

Bella Caffe

189 N. Milwaukee St., 273-5620

3815 N. Brookfield Road, Brookfield, 262-781-4521

Coffee of all kinds, tea and cider, bakery and sundaes, sandwiches and salads: Bella Caffe has many of the usual coffee house flavors. It’s also one of Milwaukee’s most attractive coffee shops. Bella’s high-fashion tables, chairs and comfortable seating areas, and its futuristic lighting fixtures, are retro futurism at its finest. A gem of urban design. (D.L.) $. CC.

 

Birdie’s Café

4110 W. Martin Drive

When the delightful Highland Park Pies and Café became Birdie’s Café, thankfully little was changed. Birdie’s exudes charm with slate floors and a few other hideaways amid a cozy clutter of bric-a-brac. Breakfast and lunch are served all day and include modestly priced bakery and egg dishes, creative sandwiches and appealing salads. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. OD. 933-9303

 

Bremen Cafe

901 E. Clarke St.

The scruffy bohemian pub recalls a European café, despite the fairly serious pool hall in the back. Across from the bar hang framed caricatures of Milwaukee business pioneers, from Gustav Pabst to Charles Pfister.  There’s no cover charge for live alt-country, gypsy jazz and bluegrass. Bremen Café serves a menu of hot and cold sandwiches with many unusual touches, vegetarian options, plus a good selection of Wisconsin craft beers. (K.L.) $. CC. FB. OD. 431-1932

 

Brewed Café

1208 E. Brady St.

This Historic Brady Street attraction’s bright purple façade is hard to miss. The interior—also vibrant, furnished with comfortable recycled chairs and festooned with tinsel, stained glass, beads and local artists’ work—is hardly less eye-catching. As for the menu, expect hearty, healthy fare including sandwiches, wraps, burritos, flatbread pizza, soups and salads. The coffee run-down is respectable, with tasty seasonal selections. Hip and centrally located, Brewed Café is the perfect place to study, socialize or simply take in the appetizing sights and smells. (S.M.) $$. CC: VS, MC. OD. 276-2739

 

Caribou Coffee

418 N. Mayfair Road

Caribou is true to its name. The design of the Midwest chain suggests rustic ski lodge, complete with wood floors, stone fireplaces and slanted beam ceilings. The small assortment of bakery and beverages has recently been augmented by “daybreaker” burgers. Good strong coffee and a hospitable atmosphere for conversation or searching the Net is still the main reason for coming. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. 777-0280

 

City Market

2205 E. Capitol Drive, 962-0100

8700 W. Watertown Plank Road, 479-0479

8725 W. North Ave., 453-0000

City Market’s three locations are bustling places humming with conversation. The coffee/sandwich shops serve Stone Creek along with a variety of tastefully composed breakfast and lunch specials, salads and pasta dishes. An array of delectable baked goods and desserts are on display. (J.B.) $. CC. NA. Handicap access.

 

Colectivo Coffee Roasters

2211 N. Prospect Ave., 273-3753

1701 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, 223-4551

170 S. First St., 765-9873

777 E. Wisconsin Ave. (U.S. Bank), 225-8970

5735 N. Bayshore Drive (Bayshore Town Center), 967-5754

2999 N. Humboldt Blvd., 292-3320

1211 Washington St., Grafton, 262-377-5183

9125 W. North Ave., Suite 101, 259-7948

2301 S. Kinnickinnic, 744-6117

4500 N. Oakland, 312-8295

Formerly known as Alterra, Colectivo has become a local empire rivaling Starbucks in our area. Their brands of coffee are sold in stores and served in restaurants with success following wherever they open an outlet. Serving coffees, smoothies and signature drinks, Colectivo’s rustic-meets-industrial interiors make it a perfect place to curl up with a paper or a laptop. A mix of herbal teas completes Colectivo’s drink list; bakery and sandwiches are served. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. Handicap access.

 

Cranky Al’s

6901 W. North Ave.

The cranky in Cranky Al’s doesn’t refer to the customers that find the place closed during normal business hours—not only is Al shut down on Monday; it’s closed from noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday—but to the “hand-cranked” donuts that are the coffeehouse’s signature. The donuts have a deliciously lighter texture than the factory-produced competition and they aren’t the only good thing on the menu of bakery, sandwiches and salads. Wednesday-Saturday from 4-8 p.m., Al cranks out homemade pizza with an array of toppings—everything from pineapple to anchovies. (D.L.) $-$$. 258-5282

 

 

Fuel Cafe

818 E. Center St.

For hellacious menu spice, try the homemade vegan chili, or maybe the Garden of Eatin’ sandwich slathered with jalapeno cream cheese. The bottom line and the starting line here is motorcycle racing. Trippy motorcycle cartoons adorn the booth seats. The ‘zines on the rack range from Maximum Rock 'n’ Roll to Classic Bike and dirt bike racing photos cover the walls. Here’s where Harley culture comes to chill with its hippie hangovers. (K.L.) $. CC. Handicap access. 374-3835

 

Hi-Fi Café

2640 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Brightly decorated and inviting, this decidedly retro coffee shop in the Bay View neighborhood serves up hefty sandwiches in addition to organic, fair-trade coffee drinks, malts and baked goods. Vegetarians are particularly well served by a menu that offers veggie chili, a falafel pita, a garden burger and several other cheese and vegetable sandwiches (including a humus pita and a provolone muffaletta with olive pepper salad). Breakfast options, such as omelets, eggs benedict and a loaded breakfast burrito, are served until noon on weekdays and 1 p.m. on weekends. (E.R.) $. Cash Only. SB. OD. 486-0504

 

Java Train

4825 N. 132nd St., Butler

Java Train is a comfortable community hangout as well as a coffee and sandwich shop. The home cooking is reason to drive a little out of your way, especially the delicious daily soup specials and sandwiches like the ones mom made. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. 262-781-9555

 

Panera Bread

15040 W. Greenfield Ave., 262-641-0550

3200 Golf Road, Delafield, 262-646-5510

W176 N9340 Rivercrest Drive, Menomonee Falls, 262-251-8559

600 E. Ogden Ave., 224-0200

690 Westfield Way, Suite K, Pewaukee, 262-691-7777

1300 W. Mequon Road, Mequon, 262-834-9999

2095 N. Calhoun Road, Suite 1, 262-641-9999

2500 N. Mayfair Road (Mayfair Mall), 831-7777

5595 N. Port Washington Road, 962-4775

7840 W. Layton Ave., 281-9999

8907 S. Howell Ave., 764-8699

Panera Bread is a sophisticated blend of high-quality food and service, and trendy but casual ambiance. Together, the bakery and café offer a wide selection of pastries, bagels and coffee, as well as flavorful soups, salads and panini. The artistically arranged portions are filling, but reasonable. Choose the “You Pick 2” deal to customize a full meal. Beverages include refreshing lemonade and smoothies that perfectly complement the spicier dishes. Varied seating is available within this cheery, earth-toned establishment, and the friendly staff and diverse clientele make Panera all the more inviting. (S.M.) $. CC. OD. Handicap access.

 

Rochambo Coffee & Tea House

1317 E. Brady St.

With its Euro-bohemian atmosphere and unique collection of art posters from the 1960s and ’70s, Rochambo’s ambiance stands out among local coffee shops. Wine and a small sandwich menu round out the list of coffee and tea. (D.L.) $. CC. 291-0095

 

Rocket Baby Bakery

6822 W. North Ave.

The vivid exterior offers little clue of what’s inside. The interior has the classic feel of an early 20th century bakery, with tile floors, marble counters and wooden ceiling. The front window includes a display of European-style bread baked on site. The bakery also serves as a café and offers locally roasted Anodyne coffee. Choose from croissants, scones or a cookie for a snack. (J.B.) $. 502-7323

 

Sherman Perk Coffee Shop

4924 W. Roosevelt Drive

The family-owned Sherman Perk is a neighborly café known for coffee and community. They serve Colectivo coffee, Rishi tea and specialty smoothies, as well as bakery, breakfast sandwiches and even personal pizzas. And they often have live music and activities such as their new comedy hour. The patio is great place to meet new people and the shop even hosts parties and events. (D.S.) $. CC. OD. 875-7375

 

Stone Creek Coffee

601 E. Silver Spring Drive, 332-2285

4106 N. Oakland Ave., 964-1608

8340 W. Bluemound Road, 443-1302

275 W. Wisconsin Ave (Grand Avenue Skywalk), 298-9965

2266 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 481-4215

2744 Hillside Drive, Delafield, 262-646-2241

6969 N. Port Washington Road, 228-8699

1043 E. Summit Ave., Oconomowoc, 262-569-7375

422 N. Fifth St., 270-1008

158 S. Barclay St. (Radio Milwaukee), 270-0028

One of several area locations, Stone Creek’s recently remodeled Factory Store is perfect for a studious nosh or coffee with friends. This spacious Cream City brick establishment boasts two levels, a fireplace and a rentable conference room. Approximately 20 blend and single-origin coffees are available. The Milwaukee Blend is a smooth standard with great body. A respectable array of barista drinks and Rishi teas are offered and available snackage includes freshly made pastries, yogurt and fruit. (S.M.) $. CC. NA. Handicap access.

 

Sven’s European Cafe

2699 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 483-2233

624 N. Water St., 276-2233

Sven’s has done Herculean work to make the interior resemble an Amsterdam cafe, complete with long benches, wooden furniture and a nook with fireplace. Along with an array of tea and coffee drinks, and scrumptious bakery, Sven’s offers a hearty sandwich-salad menu with such Euro-inspired options as the Bastille (turkey sandwich), the Autobahn (ham), the Parthenon (Greek salad) and the Coliseum (Caesar). Opens early for breakfast.  (D.L.) $. CC.

 

The National

839 W. National Ave.

The National is a neighborhood café for breakfast and lunch. The menu is friendly to vegetarians. Breakfast options include a vegan burrito and omelets made from organic eggs. Be sure to try a side of rosemary breakfast potatoes. Lunch offers a variety of sandwiches. The black bean sandwich is amped up with chipotle peppers, and the Trempealeau walnut burger is free of meat. Carnivores need not worry, though: items such as pork belly and an Asian tuna sandwich are also available. The National, open Tuesday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., is a pleasant place in which to relax and enjoy a good cup of coffee. (J.B.) $. CC. 431-6551

 

CONTEMPORARY

 

Bacchus

925 E. Wells St.

Bacchus is an expensive place that has it all: a setting overlooking Lake Park, a spacious luxurious interior, an innovative contemporary American menu and fine service to match. The small touches, like flatware being replaced at every course, justify the expense. Dinner entrées include a selection of steaks, other meats and seafood. This is a very worthy restaurant in a setting it deserves. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 765-1166

 

Balzac

1716 N. Arlington Place

The preferred beverage at Balzac is wine, although the beer list is also extensive. The experience is enhanced with international small plates, flatbread pizzas and cheese plates. The wine list is thicker than the menu. Coq au vin chicken wings and lamb kebabs are among the many delights. The outdoor tables are a quiet refuge in summertime. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. LT. OD. Handicap access. 755-0099

 

Blue’s Egg

317 N. 76th St.

Although the Egg serves only breakfast and lunch, some of the breakfast items are served at all times and the full bar is always open. Morning options include a range of omelets, benedicts, pancakes and French toast. The lunch menu adds soups, salads, sandwiches and entrées with a focus on good ingredients and generous portions. (J.B.) $. CC. FB. SB. OD. Handicap access. 299-3180

 

Blue Jacket

135 E. National Ave.

Milwaukeeans who love restaurants with craft cocktails and beer along with locally sourced food have had much to cheer about this past year. Open since June 2013, Blue Jacket is prominent among this new class of restaurants. Small plate dining, artesian planks and commitment to using local products make Blue Jacket very of the moment. (S.H.G) $$-$$$. FB. OD. RS. Handicap access. 312-7098

 

Bosley on Brady

815 E. Brady St.

A white linen establishment with a popular and trendy bar, the menu focuses on seafood along with a few steaks. Many items have touches of Key West. Grouper, though pricey, is always impeccably fresh. Try the Maryland crab cake. Pistachio-crusted scallops also are the stuff of dreams. There is a thoughtful wine list with 90-some choices. (J.B.) $$$. CC. OD. Handicap access. 727-7975

 

Braise

1101 S. Second St.

Braise combines a cooking school with a restaurant. The chef/owner, active in the locally sourced ingredient movement, has put together a frequently changing menu with exceptional results. The restaurant has a rustic front bar and a dining room dominated with two communal tables constructed from the wood of bowling alleys formerly housed in the building. Menu changes daily due to the availability of the freshest ingredients. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 212-8843

 

Buckley’s Restaurant and Bar

801 N. Cass St.

The cozy place has lots of style. The atmosphere is a little pub-like, but the menu shows otherwise, with Vietnamese banh mi keeping company with corned beef. Dinner offers a fine wild boar pasta, scallops in XO sauce and a lobster roll for lighter appetites. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FF. FB. Handicap access. 277-1111

 

Bourbon & Tunns Tavern

221 N. Broadway

The former Palms Bistro has a new name and a new look. The interior is cozy and pub-like with an inviting bar. Lunches offer mainly sandwiches and mac ’n’ cheese. Stop in for a different experience at dinner, with wild boar ribs for an appetizer, almond-crusted walleye, venison chops and a lobster mac for entrées. Imagination with Midwest ingredients are the rules here. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. RS. Handicap access. 298-3000

 

c. 1880

1100 S. First St.

Local sourced ingredients are taken very seriously here. An entire menu page lists the sources of ingredients for this kitchen. While vegetables play a major role here, the meats are as diverse, ranging from beef, veal, lamb, pheasant, trout and salmon as entrées and pork belly and even foie gras as an appetizer. The setting is casual and the service warm. Prices are at the upper end of the spectrum but everything is of top quality. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. Handicapped access. 431-9271

 

Café 1505

1505 W. Mequon Road, Mequon (behind BMO Harris Bank)

Serving only breakfast and lunch, the café is a pleasant place to enjoy light fare. Breakfasts centers around omelets, French toast, baked goods and a quiche of the day. Lunches offer salads and sandwiches plus a few entrees. The salad ingredients are always very fresh and the daily soups all are very well prepared. Salads include a parmesan portabella and balsamic chicken. Try the Monterey tuna melt or a jumbo half-pound Angus burger. Service is efficient and pleasant making. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. SB. Handicap access. 262-241-7076

 

Café Benelux

346 N. Broadway

The rooftop deck is a prime spot for watching the activities of Milwaukee’s Third Ward. The menu, not surprisingly, has a few Dutch and Belgian items. Bitterballen are Dutch meatballs served with curry ketchup and the Belgian mussels are prepared five ways. The star item is the frites, which are thin and crisp, served with more than a dozen sauces. Opt for the roasted garlic aioli, which never disappoints. The rest of the menu wanders around casual fare with a sound selection of burgers, sandwiches and a few entrées. The list of Belgian and Belgian-inspired beers is exceptional. (J.B.) $$. FB. OD. SB. LT. CC. Handicap access. 501-2500

 

Café Calatrava

700 N. Art Museum Drive

Where are the tables with the city’s best view? A contender is Café Calatrava in the Milwaukee Art Museum. The café is located under the main entry hall and has sleek slanting windows overlooking Lake Michigan. The menu is contemporary, changes frequently and is themed to current exhibitions. The café is only open for lunch and Sunday brunch. (J.B.) $$. SB. Handicap access. 224-3831

 

Café Hollander

2608 N. Downer Ave., 963-6366

7677 W. State St., 475-6771

The Café Hollander offers casual European fare in a setting to match. The menu focuses on things Dutch and Belgian. Think heaping bowls of steamed mussels and fries with a side of mayonnaise. Dining is on two levels; the large bar has a distinguished menu of Belgian beers. Though the split pea soup is very Dutch the menu has considerable diversity, adding burgers, pastas and a daily fish fry to this Low Country mixture. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. LT. SB. Handicap access.

 

Café Perrin

5901 W. Vliet St.

The menu is largely gluten free and the major food groups are covered, with red meat, chicken, fish and vegetables all represented. Breakfast is built around an array of attractively served omelets and their oatmeal is made with Wisconsin-grown oats and comes with golden raisins. Lunch and dinner are drawn from a menu of light and tasty selections, among them being healthy salads and many sandwiches and wraps. Try the grass-fed burger on an egg bun, the Reuben with slow-roasted corn beef and house made dressing, or the pulled pork with house made barbeque sauce. For heavier appetites, the menu includes a short list of entrées served after 5 p.m. (D.L.) OD. FB. SB. GF. 727-0860

 

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants

15 S. Moorland Road (Brookfield Square Mall)

Entered from the Brookfield Square parking lot, Cooper’s Hawk is both a compact wine shop and an expansive restaurant whose interior suggests a winery in the San Fernando Valley. The menu hits all major food groups, with burgers and sandwiches, soups and salads and entrées of chicken, fish and beef. Contemporary touches, such as garlic mayo and braised tuna tacos, abound. Service is friendly and efficient at this local venue of a growing national chain. Wine, of course, is the recommended beverage. (D.L.) $$-$$$. CC. OD. RS. Handicap access. 262-785-9463

 

Crazy Water

839 S. Second St.

Located inside a former Walker’s Point tavern—sound familiar? Crazy Water was the pioneer. Cooking occurs behind the bar and it’s enjoyable to watch the chefs whip up their American fusion magic. The menu follows trends with the mandatory kale salad, flat iron steak and diver scallops. The signature “crazy” shrimp adds a bit of spice to the menu. Crazy Horse remains a gem. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. OD. RS. 645-2606

 

Elsa’s on the Park

833 N. Jefferson St.

The façade is Victorian brownstone; the interior is trendy. Fresh flowers adorn every table and the crowd is well dressed. So why is everybody eating burgers and pork-chop sandwiches with their martinis? Try one and you’ll know why. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. FF. LT. Handicap access. 765-0615

 

Envoy

2308 W. Wisconsin Ave.

Envoy is the jewel of the renovated Ambassador Hotel. The lobby is an Art Deco masterpiece and the dining room illuminated by massive chandeliers. As this is a hotel restaurant, the menu tends toward caution, but sangria glazed shrimp and Jamaican jerk scallops add some fun to the mix. It’s a memorable dining experience. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. RS. SB. FF. Handicap access. 345-5015

 

Firefly Urban Bar & Grill

7754 Harwood Ave.

The plates range from small to large. Start with tuna tartare, calamari or mushroom risotto lollipops and move on to black truffle flatbread, chicken saltimbocca or something spicy like jalapeno and parmesan pork chops. The Firefly is a great setting for a relaxing evening. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 431-1444

 

Harry’s Bar & Grill

3549 N. Oakland Ave.

Although the bar dominates the dining room, this is very much a restaurant. Harry’s takes an international approach in its menu with bits of the Mediterranean, Latin America and Asia. They also make some very decent all-American burgers. Light eaters will find a number of salads. Evenings offer entrées that are more substantial with beef, chicken, seafood and pasta options. The outdoor terrace is a fine spot for Sunday brunch. Sip a mimosa and savor the eggs benedict. (J.B.) $$$. CC. RS. FB. FF. LT. SB. OD. Handicap access. 964-6800

 

Harvey’s Central Grille

1340 W. Towne Square Road, Mequon

 Chic and modern, this inviting restaurant is known for its seasonally updated menu of contemporary bistro cuisine. With dishes from light to heavy, and from varied regions (American, Mediterranean, Pan Asian), the menu consists of appetizers, sandwiches, seafood, entrees, fish fry’s, steaks, pastas, salads, desserts and more. Their innovative dishes carry over to a daily happy hour from 4-6, and a brunch, featuring items like Caprese benedict, and chai French toast. Their entertaining mixologists are known for creating inventive drinks. (D.S.) $-$$. CC. RS, OD, FB, FF. Handicap Accessible. 262-241-9589

 

Hi Hat Lounge/The Garage

1701 N. Arlington Place

Alike in originality, contrasting in atmosphere, the conjoined pubs offer affordable high-quality comfort food daily until midnight. Classic and innovative craft cocktails made with fresh ingredients and a good selection of beers are served in both rooms. The low-key elegance of the architecturally stunning Lounge facilitates conversation, and the handmade conservationist décor of The Garage is a pleasant conversation topic. Every demographic is welcome at this popular Brady Street landmark with occasional live jazz and The Garage’s big screen TV. (J.S.) $$. CC. FB. FF. OD. SB. LT. 220.8090

 

Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub

222 E. Erie St., Suite 100

Hinterland set the standards for a “gastropub” when it first opened: have a bar or two, keep things casual and above all, pay attention to the menu. Hinterland keeps up with current trends with sriracha smoked peanuts (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. Handicap access. 727-9300

 

INdustri Café

524 S. Second St.

INdustri is all about affordable casual fare in a cool Rust Belt retro setting with a world menu. The half-pound burgers are solidly rooted in the Midwest. Venture south for chorizo duck paired with European gnocchi. The priciest dishes are the lamb lollipops and Cajun gumbo, but everything else is under $20 (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. GF. SB. FF. Handicap access. 224-7777

 

Juniper61

6030 W. North Ave.

Juniper61 has a casual contemporary setting and fare to match. Start with tempura green beans and move on to salads or a meatball bàhn mi with Asian slaw. Heartier appetites will find entrees like saffron scallops or steer tenderloin. The menu isn’t large but it is thoughtful. Every neighborhood should have a restaurant like this. (J.B.) $$. CC. SB. Handicap access. 727-6161

 

Kil@wat

139 E. Kilbourn Ave.

With its décor of serene, uncluttered décor, Kil@wat is the star of the InterContinental Hotel. The menu wanders from homey fair to trendy items, such as the seared scallop and pork belly duo, rosemary polenta cake and a grilled veal skirt steak salad. Remember the classic Big Boy double-decker burger? It’s on the menu. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. Handicap access. 291-4793

 

The Knick

1030 E. Juneau Ave.

The floors and metal-edged tables are retro dinette but the colors are bright and contemporary, with rich burnished gold, ruby red and azure blue. Sinuous wood partitions provide privacy for diners. The menu includes sumptuous appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrées. The bar is well stocked and martini friendly. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. 272-0011

 

La Merenda

125 E. National Ave.

La Merenda features over 25 tapas; a few are Spanish but more are Asian, South American and Mediterranean. Where else can you combine lobster and crab arancini with lumpia Shanghai and Argentine style beef? The beer list is good and the wines are moderate in price with several choices under $20 per bottle. Portions might be small—order at least two per person—but the quality is excellent and nothing is priced over $10. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 389-0125

 

LuLu

2261 and 2265 S. Howell Ave.

Lulu boasts a newer bar on one side and the original diner on the other. The newer section features potted plants, hardwood floors and vintage armchairs. The menu is vegetarian friendly with appetizers, salads and sandwiches. Try a roasted Tuscan salad with a bit of fresh goat cheese. Meat eaters will love the Half-Pound Heart Attack, a burger topped with Gorgonzola. Homemade potato chips or crunchy Asian slaw accompany sandwiches. Pies are homemade. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. SB. Handicap access. 294-5858

 

Meritage

5921 W. Vliet St.

Meritage has the style of a bistro and a focus on wine and casual fare. This theme is not uncommon locally. What is uncommon is the quality. There are just eight or so entrees but they are chosen with care and the menu changes seasonally. Owner-chef Jan Kelly was a 2012 James Beard Foundation Best Chef of the Midwest semifinalist. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. 479-0620

 

Metro

411 E. Mason St.

Located in one of Milwaukee’s top hotels, Metro is open from breakfast to dinner. The décor has Art Deco touches and the menu is more classic than trendy, mixing roasted beet salad with seared duck breast, short ribs, sautéed walleye fillet and French onion soup. Prime rib is served on Saturday—a retro classic that seems scarce nowadays. The cool bar-lounge has its own menu. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. RS. OD. GF. SB. FB. 272-1937

 

NSB Bar & Grill

8649 N. Port Washington Road

The former North Shore Bistro has been slimmed down and the menu is on a diet. Splurge on the Maine lobster salad. While the new menu focuses on upscale burgers, other dishes, such as the risottos and grilled seafood, are superb. (J.B.) $$. CC. RS. FB. FF. OD. 351-6100

 

North Avenue Grill

7225 W. North Ave.

The popularity of the new North Avenue Grill speaks to the new owner’s ability to make delicious, high-quality comfort food at wallet-friendly prices. The place is clean and cozy, with booths along one wall, a few tables with chairs up front, and a counter area for the classic diner experience. In the warmer months, outdoor sidewalk seating is perfect to catch a breeze or enjoy the vibe of bustling North Avenue. (S.H.G.) $-$$. CC. No checks. OD. 453-7225

 

North Star American Bistro

4518 N. Oakland Ave., 964-4663

19115 W. Capitol Drive, Suite 100, 262-754-1515

Both locations offer casual comfort with a menu that is as up-to-the-minute as the décor. Selections range from small plates, like the mandatory crab cakes and calamari, to entrées such as beef short ribs and steak au poivre. There are also less expensive items like gourmet burgers, pizzas and salads. The occasional updates keep the menu fresh. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. SB. FF. FB. Handicap access.

 

Oakcrest Tavern

4022 N. Oakland Ave.

Oakcrest is half bar, half restaurant. The warm tones of wood and a stone fireplace add a cozy, inviting feel. The menu adds to the casual theme with sandwiches, entrée-sized salads, appetizers and an interesting group of entrees including shrimp risotto, fish tacos and a great hangar steak topped with chimichurri, a condiment of parsley, herbs and olive oil. (J.B.) $$. CC. SB. FF. Handicap access. 967-0222

 

Odd Duck

2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Odd Duck offers hints of Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean in it’s the daily changing menu. The Duck offers small plates with a few larger ones for dinner. There also is a selection of local charcuterie and cheeses. For the lightest of appetites, try a sample of the house-made dilly beans or even a pickled egg. The menu of the day might offer spring pea and tomato pistou stuffed endive, seared scallops and gouda-stuffed dates. Larger plates may include steamed mussels, pan-seared trout and beef short-rib bourguignon. Whatever is offered will be worth ordering. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. RS. Handicap access. 763-5881

 

ParkSide 23

2300 N. Pilgrim Square Drive, Brookfield

Local foods are the focus. This means that the meats and cheeses are from Wisconsin and summertime will feature the bounty of an onsite garden. The interior has earthy tones and a fusion of country charm and urbanity. The bar is a relaxing spot for a craft beer, preferably from Wisconsin. The menu is organized into three price categories. Nearly half of the items fall into the lowest ($7-$12). A huge stuffed pepper and vegetable risotto are among these. Braised short ribs are up a bracket ($13-$18) and worth every penny. This is a very popular place but even when the tables are filled the kitchen keeps pace. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. GF. Handicap access. 262-784-7275

 

Prodigal Gastropub

240 E. Pittsburgh Ave.

Prodigal Gastropub has embraced a style that works well in our city. Located in what was once an old warehouse, the space recalls Milwaukee's manufacturing roots. Choosing from the seasonally changing menu isn’t easy. Executive Chef Van Luu earned his chops in premier venues like Bacchus and Lake Park Bistro, so diners can expect top-notch locally-sourced produce and meats prepared in unexpected ways. (S.H.G.) $-$$$. FB. 233-3030

 

Riverwest Filling Station

701 E. Keefe Ave.

At Milwaukee’s first “growler bar,” you can fill your carryout jug with one of 30 different beers on tap until 9 p.m. But why leave? The dazzling interior is by Flux Design. There are good burgers along with Indonesia curry scallops, shitake-crusted ahi tuna and a decent tarragon Caesar salad. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 906-9000

 

Rumpus Room

1030 N. Water St.

The Bartolotta group’s idea of a gastropub is a casual place that hints at Baroque elegance. The beer list is stronger than the wine and the back bar has depth in whiskeys. Evenings offer a fine list of Wisconsin cheeses and smoked meats. The entrées merge comfort food with more ambitious fare. Try the soothing lamb Bolognese stew. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 292-0100

 

Sanford

1547 N. Jackson St.

Sanford is in good hands after the long reign of Sanford and Angie D’Amato. Owner-chef Justin Aprahamian was recently named a James Beard finalist for Best Chef in the Midwest. Weekdays offer four- and seven-course menus that wander around the world—the chef’s tour. Otherwise, the main menu still has the grilled tuna with Cumin wafers that defined the early days of Sanford. Expect an exceptional experience. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. RS. FB. 276-9608

 

Simple Café

2124 N. Farwell Ave.

This is the Milwaukee outpost of a popular Lake Geneva café, open for breakfast and lunch. The menu offers mostly light and healthy fare, but does include a half-pound burger. Breakfast standards like buttermilk pancakes and novelties like spicy Korean pancakes are served. With lunch come sandwiches and a dreamy smoked trout salad with roasted beets and baby spinach. All ingredients are very fresh. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. RS. SB. NA. 262-348-3556

 

Swig

217 N. Broadway

Swig’s front is open-air on warm days, with an intimate bar and a dining room with warm wood tones. The menu offers sandwiches for lunch as well as salads, entrees and “small plates,” the international version of tapas. Creativity is in bloom here. Look for the wild mushroom gnocchi and the lobster-stuffed poblano pepper, and try a side of garlic asparagus with grape tomatoes. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. OD. SB. RS. Handicap access. 431-7944

 

The Hotch Spot (formerly Hotch-A-Do)

1813 E. Kenilworth Place

The extensive brunch menu served on weekends from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. includes traditional favorites plus unique creations, such as Hotch Hash and French toast made with zucchini bread. Over a dozen sandwiches are offered with many vegetarian options, along with homemade soups, pizza and dinner entrees. Open at 5 p.m. on weekdays. (J.B.) $$. CC. FF. Handicap access. 727-2122

 

Triskele’s

1801 S. Third St.

JoLinda Klopp, former head chef at the River Lane Inn, now has her own restaurant in a former corner tavern. The menu is not large but is innovative. Start with ginger pork wontons or a salad of arugula with dried cherries and goat cheese. For entrées try the vegetarian sherry-braised mushrooms with whiskey-glazed parsnips or a shrimp and mussel stew with andouille. (J.B.) $$. CC. FF. RS for 5+. 837-5950

 

Trocadero Gastrobar

1758 N. Water St.

Trocadero is housed inside a gem of a Cream City brick corner tavern. Later additions provide a glassed-in dining area and outdoor seating that is highly prized in summer. At one point the Trocadero menu wandered from the place’s French roots, but a new menu returns to form. Look for frites, mussels, a tuna Nicoise salad and scallops baked with brie. (J.B.) $$. CC. OD. SB. LT. RS. 272-0205

 

 

Water Buffalo

249 N. Water St.

Water Buffalo offers great river views as well as outdoor seating along the RiverWalk. The interior is dazzling with two levels, two bars and contemporary artwork. The menu is casual with appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrées at moderate prices. Try seared ahi bites and rustic lasagna. Every table has a great view. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FF. OD. 431-1133

 

Wolf Peach

1818 N. Hubbard St.

Perched on the hill where Roots once resided, Wolf Peach has added a wood-fired oven for pizzas. The menu is rustic European with such delights as trout with celery root. The charred octopus is ever so tender. The tradition of locally sourced ingredients is maintained and the kitchen continues to provide surprises. The name? Wolf peach comes from an old German term for tomato. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. RS. OD. SB. GF. Handicap access. 374-8480

 

CUBAN

 

Cubanitas

728 N. Milwaukee St.

Cubanitas offers a bit of Latin-style elegance, conjuring leisure and a good cigar. And then there is the food—homey Cuban favorites such as ropa vieja, shredded flank in a Creole sauce and pollo asado, roasted chicken with garlic and lime. Begin with an empanada or two and finish with a slice of key lime pie. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. OD. LT. V. 225-1760

 

DELI

 

Benji’s Deli & Restaurant

4156 N. Oakland Ave., 332-7777

8683 N. Port Washington Road, 228-5130

When thinking of what to order at Benji’s, corned beef and pastrami instantly come to mind. Then again, so do the homemade chicken soup and cabbage borscht. For hungry appetites, there’s nothing like the chicken in a pot, a large bowl with a half-chicken, matzoh balls, noodles and vegetables. Benji’s has been in business for decades for a reason—quality. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. NA.

 

Jake’s Deli

1634 W. North Ave., 562-1272

275 W. Wisconsin Ave. (Grand Avenue Mall), 882-7090

5300 S 76th St. (Southridge Mall), 423-6750

Jake’s Deli is an old school Jewish delicatessen known for its corned beef, Reubens and pastrami. The meat is hand carved, cooked in its own juices, piled high on pretzel rolls and embellished with zesty dressings. Jake’s also carries Polish sausage, hot dogs, matzo ball soup, potato salad, kraut and a few other items. This no-frills, always-busy joint has that mid-20th century urban vibe. Jake’s closes early, serving mostly to the lunch crowd. (D.S.) $. CC. NA. Handicap access.

 

Koppa’s Fulbeli Deli

1940 N. Farwell Ave.

The centerpiece of this independently owned grocery store is its acclaimed Fulbeli Deli. Order at the counter from a menu of sandwiches from names taken from the solar system. Earth is bologna with American cheese; Uranus is shaved corned beef and Swiss, and so on through the planets. (J.B.) $. CC. OD. 273-1273

 

Milwaukee Waterfront Deli

761 N. Water St.

This upscale deli updates its website and Facebook continually, keeping customers informed on daily specials such as sandwiches, pizza, entrées, soups and salads. They serve prepared sandwiches and foods of all nationalities, including sushi, Reubens, lasagna and enchiladas. The large seating area includes an upstairs, where food is delivered via conveyor belt. (D.S.) $. CC. OD. NA. Handicap access. 220-9300

 

Rochester Deli

143 W. Broadway, Waukesha

The Rochester Deli is a family business launched by Chef Dan Strackbein, formerly executive chef of the Milwaukee Athletic Club. Brisk business expanded his takeout deli into a counter-service, sit-down operation. Sandwiches and salads are modestly priced but made with good ingredients. The soups and bakery are homemade. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. 262-522-9611

 

DINER

 

Café at the Plaza

1007 N. Cass St.

Set inside a small art deco hotel like a quaint keepsake in an antique locket, the Plaza Hotel Café serves a fresh, filling, inexpensive breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.  Sit at the original counter and enjoy the Grecian bas-reliefs of youth dancing to cymbals and pan pipes or bask in the sun at outdoor wrought iron tables in the enclosed patio garden. Relax to the sound of dishes and conversation, no music, no TV and a waitress who calls you “honey.” (J.S.) $. CC. OD. 272-0515

 

Maxfield’s Pancake House

333 W. Brown Deer Road, 247-4994

2727 N. Mayfair Road, 453-6000

The menu travels across the globe with delicious ease. Omelets and skillet dishes with Greek and Mexican themes are on tap along with more common but no less tempting items. Salads, sandwiches and soup round out the lunch options, but breakfast, as the Pancake House name suggests, is a crowing achievement. (J.L.R.) $. FF.

 

Miss Katie’s Diner

1900 W. Clybourn St.

Miss Katie’s is in the mold of a classic ’50s diner. It opens for breakfast and makes a reliable omelet. Lunch and dinner offer more substantial fare. The blue plate specials include diner classics like meat loaf and roast turkey. Dinner gets a bit more fancy with BBQ ribs and Sicilian tenderloin. The thin-cut onion rings are always good. Save room for a milk shake or malt. (J.B.) FF. SB. RS. Handicap access. 344-0044

 

FRENCH

 

Chez Jacques Brasserie

1022 S. First St.

Jacques’ café is roomy with a sunny barroom and a series of intimate dining rooms. The restaurant opens at 10 a.m.—a good time to sample the crepes. The tables near the bar are the place for a glass of wine followed with escargot or perhaps a charcuterie plate with pâté and prosciutto. The onion soup is a classic topped with bubbling gruyere cheese. For dinner it is hard to go wrong with jumbo sea scallops or duck in orange sauce. (J.B.) $$-$$$ CC. FB. SB. Handicap access. 672-1040

 

Coquette Cafe

316 N. Milwaukee St.

Milwaukee’s most authentic French menu is filled with standards such as coq au vin, pomme frites, croque monsieur and a fine onion soup. Sample appetizers with wine or try the locally produced Biere du garde, a fine beer. Good food needn’t be painfully expensive. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. OD. FB. SB. RS. 291-2655

 

Lake Park Bistro

3133 E. Newberry Blvd.

Chef Adam Siegel is a 2008 James Beard Best Chef in the Midwest award winner. The Bistro’s setting is in Lake Park and has unbeatable views of Lake Michigan. The menu is all about France, ranging from foie gras to steak and frites. The French wine list is exceptional. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. RS. FF. FB. SB. Handicap access. 962-6300

 

Le Rêve Patisserie and Café

7610 Harwood Ave.

A patisserie and café of distinction, Le Rêve boasts desserts that look like works of art. Expect French classics like steak au poivre, bouillabaisse and steamed mussels. Daily specials include delicacies like trout with almonds and lamb navarin. The bar is now full service with a full range of cocktails plus wine and beer. Open from breakfast through dinner. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. SB. Handicap access. 778-3333

 

Pastiche Bistro & Wine Bar

3001 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

The bistro isn’t large but has a fine, mostly French menu. Order some wine and begin with onion soup. Then perhaps for an entrée, try coq au vin, trout amandine or steak frites? The interior has charm with understated Gallic charm. The lunch and dinner menus do differ. Entrées are fewer at lunch but considerably cheaper. The wine list is not large but is thoughtful. In general the prices seem about right. This is a charming restaurant in an unlikely setting. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. RS. 482-1446

 

FROZEN CUSTARD

 

Fred's Frozen Custard & Grill

4726 W. Vliet St.

The neighborhood drive-in is nearly extinct, fallen victim to fast food chains. A rare exception is Fred’s, located in Washington Heights. It’s a small place with standing room only. But there are reasons Fred’s has been in business since 1967. Their roast beef sandwich is a specialty and the burgers are made of fresh beef. Save room for dessert in the form of Fred’s frozen custard sundaes. Now open on Sundays. (J.B.) $. NA. 771-6270

 

Gilles

7515 W. Bluemound Road

Gilles is the pioneer of frozen custard, opening in 1938. There is also milk shakes, malts and floats all made the right way. The food is traditional for a custard stand: hot dogs and burgers. Stop by or check online for their flavor of the day. (J.B.) $. NA. 453-4875

 

Golden Gyros

7233 W. Lincoln Ave.

You might overlook Golden Gyros in West Allis as a great place to fix a custard craving. Don't! Their custard is some of the area’s best. Daily offerings include a variety of shake and sundae flavors (including baklava) and chocolate and vanilla ice cream cones. They also feature a decadent flavor of the day, from tiramisu to Oreo cream to European chocolate truffle. Add Golden to your list of must-visit Wisconsin creameries. (H.Z.) $. Cash only. 541-7580

 

Kopp’s Frozen Custard

7631 W. Layton Ave., 282-4312

5373 N. Port Washington Road, 961-3288

18880 W. Bluemound Road, 262-789-9490

Kopp’s means large burgers and plenty of frozen custard with many weekly specials. The Layton Avenue location is the best, complete with an outdoor seating area shaded by pine trees and boasting a sculpture garden—fast food meets a deluxe setting! Each venue in this locally-owned chain has a unique, imaginative personality. (J.B.) $. NA. Handicap access.

 

Leon’s Frozen Custard

3131 S. 27th St.

Leon’s is the Milwaukee stereotype for “Happy Days.” The business began in 1942 and the current structure was built during the ’50s. It is the real thing, not a Sonic fake. Come here for the frozen custard, made daily. Otherwise, there are burgers (which are more like sloppy joes) or hot dogs. (J.B.) $. NA. 383-1784

 

GERMAN

 

Jack Pandl’s Whitefish Bay Inn

1319 E. Henry Clay St.

Pandl’s has served German and American fare since 1915. In addition to Wiener schnitzel, roast duck and beer roulade, the house specialty is a massive German pancake. The dining rooms are filled with memorabilia from Whitefish Bay’s long-gone resort days. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. SB. FF. FB. RS. 964-3800

 

Karl Ratzsch’s

320 E. Mason St.

Milwaukee’s favorite German restaurant serves the expected sauerbraten and schnitzels but also has a lighter menu for the calorie conscious. The interior abounds with Old World charm and is an instant trip to Germany. Try the goose shank, rarely found on local menus. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. RS. FB. FF. 276-2720

 

Kegel’s Inn

5901 W. National Ave.

Used to be a lot of Milwaukee restaurants looked like Kegel’s Inn. And at least in decor, not much has changed since the place opened in 1933, with its dark wood-and-stained glass gasthaus appearance. The menu offers German and American favorites. The prices are reasonable. (D.L.) $-$$. CC. FB. FF. 257-9999

 

Mader’s

1041 N. Old World Third St.

Dine under a splendid wrought iron chandelier near a suit of medieval armor. Drink German beer from a ceramic mug. This is the Mader’s experience. At the menu’s heart are the German specialties that made Mader’s famous, including sauerbraten, schnitzel and sausages made by neighboring Usinger’s. Dinner prices tend to be high. Lunch is a far better value and the quality is the same. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. FF. SB. RS. Handicap access. 271-3377

 

Wegner’s St. Martins Inn

11318 W. St. Martin’s Road

Located in a rural village setting just minutes from Milwaukee, Wegner’s decor focuses on auto racing. Friday is seafood night and a popular fish fry. Other nights, try the German menu with great schnitzels and pleasingly low prices. Reuben roll appetizers are the chef’s own creation. Also try the very tender Sicilian steak. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. RS. OD. FF. FB. 425-9971

 

GREEK

 

Apollo Cafe

1310 E. Brady St.

The Greek food is of remarkably high quality at remarkably low prices. The egg-lemon soup has a pleasant light and tart broth, while the handmade dolmades are a delight. Souvlaki are freshly grilled kebabs of chicken, beef or tuna. Though there is no table service, this place stands out in a neighborhood of fine restaurants. Wine and beer are served. (J.B.) $. CC. OD. LT. Handicap access. 272-2233

 

Cosmo’s Café

7203 W. North Ave.

The a la carte menu at Cosmo’s Café features a balance of traditional Greek and American cuisine with a couple of international items representing the flavors of other cultures. Breakfast is served all day, every day. Lunch and dinner offerings include specialty burgers and sandwiches, soups and salads, and several Greek appetizers that could also serve as vegetarian meals, from spanakopita to saganaki (pan-seared sheep milk cheese) to flavorful falafel served with tahini sauce. (H.Z.) $. CC. FF. 257-2005

 

Dino’s Taverna

777 N. Jefferson St.

The taverna has been a center of Greek life for centuries. Dino’s elegantly updates the concept with its black-and-stainless steel bar and Doric-columned, just-below-street-level room. The wine list is long and the food includes American sandwiches and tasty Greek specialties. (D.L.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. 221-1777

 

Greek Village Gyros

1888 N. Humboldt Ave.

Formerly in Wauwatosa, Greek Village reopened in scaled-down format on the East Side, serving an array of fast and ready Greek favorites—gyros, spinach pies, kabobs, veggie pitas and dolmades—along with American staples. For a cross-cultural experience, try the Greek burger with feta, oregano, tomato and black olives. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. 273-1888

 

Gyro Palace

602 S. Second St.

Gyro Palace is well worth a visit, offering a surprisingly extensive menu beyond gyros, including chicken shish-kebob marinated with olive oil, garlic and oregano served atop a pita with onions and tomatoes, and dolmades, grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice topped with a mild lemon rice sauce. Your order is taken at the counter. Delivery is also available. (D.L.) $. CC. FF. Handicap access. 298-9622

 

Mykonos Gyro & Café

1014 N. Van Buren

You won’t leave Mykonos hungry. Even a humble chicken shish-kebob sandwich special comes with fries, soda, white bread and a little salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and black olives. The Café opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast; its lunch and dinner menu includes spinach pie, moussaka and pastitsio. The sunny, open atmosphere conveys the right impression. It’s counter service, but you’ll feel as if you’ve just grabbed a quick bite in Athens. (D.L.) $. CC. Handicap access. 224-6400

 

Oakland Gyros

2867 N. Oakland Ave., 963-1393

530 W. Layton Ave., 744-2555

One of Milwaukee’s favorite counter-service restaurants offers gyros and shish-kebob sandwiches, spinach pie, Greek salads and even plain old cheeseburgers. The lamb shank features a large piece of tender, flavorful meat in a brown sauce, served with warm pita, black olives, feta and choice of fries or salad. (D.L.) $. CC. LT.

 

The PeachTree Restaurant

15419 W. National Ave.

The PeachTree exceeds expectations by serving affordable Greek and American cuisine in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. The mammoth menu features senior specials, lunch specials, dinner specials and weekly specials. Fortunately, the Greek side of the menu doesn’t begin and end with gyros, but offers traditional favorites including chicken shish-kabob, moussaka, pastichio and spanakopita. (E.P.) $-$$. CC. FB. FF. Handicap access. 262-787-2911

 

INDIAN/PAKISTANI

 

Anmol

711 W. Historic Mitchell St.

You don’t go to Anmol for atmosphere. It’s tucked into a small storefront and, since it’s Pakistani and not Indian, even the usual Kama Sutra kitsch is absent from the walls. Although the ambience is austere, the food is excellent. The beef and lamb is halal, slaughtered according to Muslim tradition, and Amish farmers feed the chickens. The large-portioned entrées also include fish and vegetarian options. Sit back and watch the soccer scores on the Pakistani or Indian satellite channels beamed through the big TV and top off your meal with creamy mango lassi. (D.L.) $-$$. CC. NA. 672-7878

 

Bollywood Grill

1038 N. Jackson St.

The menu includes Indian standards such as chicken tikka, biryani and the usual fare from the tandoor oven. The grill also has a few items that make the menu distinctive. Start with a chaat platter (Indian bar snacks) and try regional fare including a fish curry as well as vindaloo. There are many choices for lamb and goat; vegetarians will never feel disappointed. The setting is casual and comfortable and the use of spice is bold. (J.B.) $$. CC. Handicap access. 271-8200

 

Bombay Sweets

3401 S. 13th St.

The setting is spare with white Formica tables and plastic forks and cutlery. But this all-vegetarian East Indian menu is filled with rare and unusual delights. Lemon rice, pakoras, pooris, utappam and malai kofta are all recommended. Also look for coconut raita and chutney. And there is a bakery counter filled with an array of Indian sweets and snacks. (J.B.) $. CC. OD. NA. 383-3553

 

Dera Pakistani Grill

869 W. Layton Ave.

Dera Pakistani Grill is one of the few places in the city that emphasizes the Pakistani side of the wider Indo-Pakistani culinary tradition. The meat is all Zabina Halal, the Muslim equivalent of kosher. Another Pakistani touch is the inclusion of beef and the exclusion of pork. Located in a strip mall a block away from one of Wisconsin's biggest mosques, Dera hosts an evening halal buffet beginning at sundown and runs until 11 p.m. during Ramadan. (J.L.R.) $-$$. CC. LB. 744-2500

 

Maharaja

1550 N. Farwell Ave.

Maharaja has an extensive Indian menu starting with samosa and pakora appetizers, 16 types of flatbread, an array of curries and the usual masala, vindaloo and moghlai. The lunch buffet is a Milwaukee favorite. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. RS. LB. 276-2250

 

Royal India

3400 S. 27th St.

Royal India’s specialties are from the clay tandoor oven, whether flatbreads or a sizzling platter of jumbo shrimp. Meats tend to be lamb and chicken, and vegetarians will find the menu a pleasure. The levels of spicing make the dishes accessible yet flavorful. When Royal India opened it was one of Milwaukee’s best restaurants. That still holds true today. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. LB. Handicap access. 647-9600

 

Taj Mahal

5114 S. 108th St.

Walk in and be surrounded by the aroma of Indian spices in a part of town better known for fast food. The menu has all the expected standards but manages to pack a few surprises, like the duck and lobster dishes. The tandoor oven offers swordfish Bombay, not the usual Indian restaurant fare. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. RS. SB. FF. Handicap access. 427-5900

 

Tandoor House

1117 S. 108th St.

The East Indian menu packs few surprises, but the tandoor oven produces good flatbreads and succulent tandoori chicken. Curries are tame unless they’re ordered “extra spicy.” Among the ample vegetarian entrées are thalis—lentil crepes filled with curries. Meat curries include chicken, lamb, goat and even beef. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. LB. 777-1600

 

IRISH

 

Brocach Irish Pub and Restaurant

1850 N. Water St.

For the look and feel of an Irish pub there is little competition for the two-leveled Brocach. Beer flows freely from the taps and the interior always feels warm and cozy. There also is a substantial menu of things Irish, Scottish and beyond. A traditional Irish stew has lamb and sirloin tips, the wild Alaskan salmon is accompanied with lemon herb couscous and the New York strip steak comes with Cashel blue cheese butter. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FF. SB. FB. Handicap access. 431-9009

 

Burke’s Irish Castle

5328 W. Bluemound Road

The former Derry Hegarty’s Pub has never looked better with a revamped bar, new kitchen and glass garage doors. This is a gastropub with Irish touches. Tasty chicken wings are smoked, not deep-fried. A tapas platter has baked mussels, pork belly and even brie with a funnel cake batter. But there are still the Irish basics like corned beef and “Bangers & Smash.” The Friday fish fry offers battered cod, organic perch and gluten-free tilapia. There is a free Milwaukee Brewers’ shuttle for home games. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FF. FB. 453-6088

 

County Clare

1234 N. Astor St.

County Clare is an inn with a pub and restaurant capturing the charm of Ireland. The many beers include delights such as Wexford cream ale. The menu features that Irish-American staple of corned beef. Look to the seafood for more varied flavors of the Emerald Isle, including steamed mussels and excellent smoked salmon. The menu is affordable and the setting pleasant. (J.B.) $$. CC. OD. FB. Handicap access. 272-5273

 

Lucky’s Irish Pub & Grill

789 W. Layton Ave.

Located in a one-time Sizzler’s, Lucky’s makes better use of the building’s large kitchen. The menu roams far from the Emerald Isle with pizzas, salads, homemade appetizers (including mozzarella sticks) and hand-cut French fries but includes such Irish favorites as shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and corned beef and cabbage. (E.R.) $. CC. FB. 744-9999

 

Mo’s Irish Pub

142 W. Wisconsin Ave., 272-0721

10842 W. Bluemound Road, 774-9782

In the mood for a pint of Guinness? Have it with steamed mussels or perhaps a corned beef sandwich at this very authentic Irish pub. And maybe a nip of Irish whiskey for dessert. The menu is filled with Irish standards. Of special note are a tasty beef stew and a classic shepherd’s pie. Boxties, huge Irish potato pancakes, are the house specialty. (J.B.) $$ CC. FB. FF. Handicap access.

 

Mulligans Irish Pub & Grill

8933 S. 27th St.

The corned beef is lean and tasty, the lamb stew is tender and the fish and chips have a fine beer batter. The setting is casual with a bar room more pleasant than the dining room—more windows. Not all is Irish here. There are burgers, steak sandwiches and pizzas for lighter fare, and entrées like rotisserie chicken and a strip steak. Prices are moderate. The pub is a good distance from downtown Milwaukee but just a short distance from I-94. Enjoy a black and tan. (J.B.) $-$$. FB. CC. Handicap access. 304-0300

 

O’Donoghue’s Irish Pub

13225 Watertown Plank Road

O’Donoghue’s has an excellent bar menu, some of it with Irish roots. Of course, you’ll find a sandwich stacked high with tender chunks of corned beef on marbled rye, anchoring a brimming basket of French fries with a pickle spear and a dish of good coleslaw. The burgers are tasty and prepared to order. The Irish chips are baked to golden brown and accompanied by a mild-tasting dip. Not sure if breaded pickles or battered mushrooms are considered an Irish specialty, but they are unique addition to the appetizer menu. Wisconsin is well represented by cheese curds and a Friday fish fry.  (D.L.) OD. FB. FF. Handicap access. 262-641-2730

 

Trinity Three Irish Pubs

125 E. Juneau Ave.

Trinity is a trio of interconnected Irish pubs, each with its own character. There are dark wooden booths and abundant stained glass at Foy’s, a whimsical outdoor dining terrace at Gallagher’s and the cozy warmth of Duffy’s. The menu is the same at each, with Irish specialties like stew, shepherd’s pie and some creative Irish nachos. Servings tend to be plentiful and the prices moderate. (J.B.) $$. CC. LT. FF. SB. FB. OD. Handicap access. 278-7033

 

ITALIAN

 

Balistreri’s Bluemound Inn

6501 W. Bluemound Road

It’s a hit on the West Side, seldom less than crowded during peak hours, and the formula for its success is simple: great pizza, an array of Italian and Sicilian specialties, plus steak and fish. Come in a suit, come in a baseball cap on your way to Miller Park, come as you are. (D.L.) $$- $$$. CC. FB. FF. LT. 258-9881

 

Barbiere’s Italian Inn

5844 W. Bluemound Road, 453-3800

1021 Milwaukee Ave., 764-1234

Barbiere’s dimly-lit interior looks and feels vintage and its menu offers home-style Italian comfort food. Barbiere’s classic pizzas (available in many sizes) feature mildly spiced sauce, quality mozzarella cheese and crispy, medium thick crust and can be customized with additional toppings, such as homemade Italian sausage, fresh sliced tomatoes, pepperoncini, green olives, minced garlic and anchovies. (E.P.) $-$$. FB. RS. Handicap access.

 

Bartolotta Ristorante

7616 W. State St.

This is serious Italian served in a classic former Pabst Cream City brick tavern. The seating is European and cozy. Attentive servers, an elegant atmosphere and rustic Italian cuisine are the hallmarks of the menu. Prices may resemble Rome but at least the pastas can be ordered in half portions. Sidewalk dining is a delight in the heart of the Tosa Village. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 771-7910

 

Calderone Club

842 N. Old World Third St.

One of Downtown Milwaukee’s most reliable Italian dining options, Calderone Club serves thoughtfully plated Italian cuisine with a keen attention to details. The mixed greens in the house salad are crisp, the bread served before meals is warm and fragrant and the red sauce at the heart of most entrées is thin, silky and heavenly. Served on a simple crust that’s not too thick and not too thin, the pizzas let the fresh ingredients carry most of the flavor. Calderone Club’s full bar, large wine selection, snappy service and upscale but not too formal environment make this a smart date destination. (E.R.) $$$ CC. RS. FB. 273-3236

 

Carini’s La Conca D’Oro

3468 N. Oakland Ave.

Sicilian seafood is the specialty of this fine menu, including mussels, calamari and swordfish. The pasta is good, especially the signature pasta La Conca d’Oro, with its mix of seafood. Landlubbers will find chicken, veal or steaks. The lunch buffet is vegetarian friendly. (J.B.) $$$. CC. OD. FB. LB. Handicap access. 963-9623

 

Caterina’s Ristorante

9104 W. Oklahoma Ave.

This is the Sicilian-American menu of years ago with standards such as Sicilian steak and veal marsala. Caterina’s remains popular for its attention to detail. The pounded veal is tenderized perfectly and the tenderloin is of top quality. The menu also includes fine chicken dishes, pastas, scampi and daily seafood specials. Dinners include antipasto, soup and salad. Lunches are considerably cheaper and of the same quality. (J.B.) $$$. CC. FF. 541-4200

 

Centro Café

808 E. Center St.

The interior is European in feel and the intimate setting gets crowded on weekends. Behind a stunning marble counter, chefs prepare a fairly simple menu of appetizers, sandwiches and pastas. The pastas are available in gluten free versions and quite a few items are vegan. If you’re wondering how good vegan pasta can be with no meat or dairy, Centro Café answers: quite tasty. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. SB. GF. FB. 455-3751

 

Divino Wine & Dine

2315 N. Murray Ave.

This is the former Palermo Villa, an Eastside institution for pizza. The new owners have kept the pizza recipes, but now their starter courses and entrées have been expanded in this Sicilian-American menu. Starter courses vary from mozzarella marinara and fried eggplant to things like arancini (filled rice balls) and rapini (grilled broccoli rabe). The nice Palermo salad has conch and tender octopus. Most pasta and a few entrées are sold in smaller portions. This means that you can order both the beef tenderloin spedini and the fettuccine puttanesca without spending a fortune. (J.B.) $$. FB. Handicap access. 212-2222

 

Il Mito Trattoria e Enoteca, 6913 W. North Ave., 443-1414

Il Mito East, 1028 E. Juneau Ave., 271-1414

Il Mito combines a pleasant Italian-inspired setting with a menu to match. While not purely Italian, the flavors are still there. Both locations have much to offer and somewhat different menus, with the East Side spot more focused on small plates. Both offer exceptional osso bocu, thoughtful pastas and mighty tasty pizzas in casual yet upscale settings at prices that won’t break the bank. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. SB. GF. Handicap access.

 

Joey Buona’s

500 N. Water St.

Everything is large at Joey Buona’s, a downtown Italian restaurant and pizzeria that specializes in serving big parties with private dining rooms and banquet halls that can fit parties up to 250. Many of the entrées, including chicken parmesan, chicken marsala, grilled salmon, steak and mushrooms and sausage and peppers, can be ordered as single servings or shared family style. The menu is large, sometimes to a fault—it’s best to avoid the paninis served at lunch—but diners can’t go wrong with the generous pasta dishes and massive thin crust or deep-dish pizzas. (E.R.) $$$. CC. RS. OD. FB. 272-8662

 

Louise’s

801 N. Jefferson, 273-4224

275 Regency Court, Brookfield, 262-784-4275

Louise’s was probably the first restaurant of its kind in Milwaukee—the sort of place whose interior is so swanky that you’d never guess it was part of a national chain. The lively atmosphere and exposed kitchen combine with a menu featuring specialty pizzas, pastas and wonderful focaccia. (D.L.) $$. CC. RS. OD Milwaukee only. FB. SB. Handicap access.

 

Maggiano’s Little Italy

2500 N. Mayfair Road

It’s a national chain with a sense of style, a restaurant in Mayfair Mall that Frank, Dino and the boys would have enjoyed. Their parents would have loved the big portions of authentic Italian food. Think we’re kidding? In the tradition of family-style cooking, Maggiano’s doesn’t skimp when it comes to sausage, spaghetti or spiedini. The dark interior is reminiscent of Italian-American restaurants of yesteryear. (D.L.) $$$. CC. FB. OD. RS. Handicap access. 978-1000

 

Mimma’s Cafe

1307 E. Brady St.

Mimma’s means pasta. Since opening in the ’80s, a time when tomato-based Southern Italian cuisine was the norm in Milwaukee, Mimma’s helped introduce creamy Northern Italian sauces to the city. All colors and shapes of pasta with cream sauces, wine sauces, herb sauces and more are meshed with delicacies from sea and land. An extensive selection of Italian wine is available. (D.L.) CC. RS. OD. FB. Handicap access. 271-7337

 

Nessun Dorma

2778 N. Weil St.

Everybody likes a good deal at a restaurant, especially when the food proves as good as the prices. One such place is Nessun Dorma, named for a Puccini tune and housed in a former corner tavern. The menu is focused on lighter fare with an Italian touch, including bruschetta, antipasti and panini. The daily specials are worth a trip to Riverwest. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. LT. 264-8466

 

Rustico Pizzeria

223 N. Water St.

Rustico is a more casual venue than its sister restaurant, Zarletti. This menu focuses on pizza with a few salads, pastas, paninis and appetizers. Outdoor dining is directly on the RiverWalk. Pizzas rank with Milwaukee’s best; straightforward and only with Italian ingredients. Pastas are also worth a try. The prima vera is lovely with the flavor of grilled vegetables, while the pasta della nonna is as fine as at Zarletti’s. This menu is more affordable, making Rustico a fine Third Ward dining option. (J.B.) $$. CC. Handicap access. 220-9933

 

Tenuta’s Italian Restaurant

2995 S. Clement Ave.

Tenuta’s traditional Southern Italian food is well prepared, as if made in a kitchen that hasn’t changed in a century. The presentation, however, is very contemporary. Quality starts with freshness, which brings not only the best flavors from the familiar ingredients but the richest colors as well. Emphasis is on pasta dishes and pizza. An extensive wine list is available. (D.L.) $$. CC. FB. OD. SB. Handicap access. 431-1014

 

VIA Downer

2625 N. Downer Ave.

VIA Downer is the latest venture from the owners of Transfer Pizzeria. While pizza is prominent on VIA’s menu, diners will also find appetizers, sandwiches and pastas along with soup. The bruschetta and crostini have their own section on the appetizer menu. As expected, the pizzas are top notch with thin, puffy crusts. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. GF. Handicap access. 501-4510

 

Wild Earth Cucina Italiana

1721 West Canal St. (inside Potawotomi Bingo Casino)

Potawatomi Bingo Casino is more than a gambling mecca; it’s also a culinary destination with its wide variety of restaurants. Among them, Wild Earth serves dishes inspired by the regional cuisine of Italy infused with all the touches foodies admire. Seasonal and locally sourced ingredients are used whenever possible and gluten-free dishes can be prepared on request. $$$. RS. 847-7626

 

Zarletti

741 N. Milwaukee St.

Zarletti is an Italian place that’s simply excellent. The panini served at lunch are the best. At dinner the pastas are compelling, but do try the dreamy (if pricey) osso bucco. It rarely gets any better. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 225-0000

 

JAPANESE

 

Benihana

850 N. Plankinton Ave.

This nationwide chain offers Japanese tableside cooking by acrobatic chefs. Those not in the mood for a performance will find tempura appetizers and a sushi bar with modest prices. Steaks, from the raw sashimi appetizer to the tenderloins, are well-marbled and tender. Dinners are comprehensive, including everything from an appetizer to dessert. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 270-0890

 

Fujiyama

2916 S. 108th St.

Diners aiming for a Benihana experience will find hibachi tables and the expected fare. Those aiming for the sushi bar will find a larger menu. The tempura is expertly prepared, the teriyaki is reliable and the beef negimaki is a treat. Aficionados of Japanese food know that the sushi, soup and seafood are authentic. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 755-1977

 

Fushinami

2116 N. Farwell Ave.

For one price you get a seafood buffet and all the sushi you can eat. The sushi is freshly prepared to order. The setting is nice with tile floors, stone walls and elegant furnishings. The sushi menu is much larger at dinner when sashimi is also offered. Friday and Saturday dinners charge a few dollars more as crab legs are added to the buffet. For the quality of the setting and the sushi the price can’t be beat. (J.B.) $$. CC. RS. FB. Handicap access. 270-1918

 

Izumi’s

2150 N. Prospect Ave.

Izumi’s has long been a favorite for its extensive selection of nigiri and maki sushis. The menu has been updated into a small plate format with many favorites, including the stellar hamachi kama grilled yellow tail, remaining. Izumi’s is a classic that only gets better. (J.B.) $$-$$$ CC. RS for 6+. FB. LB. Handicap access. 271-5278

 

Japanica

4918 S. 74th St.

Greenfield’s spacious and gracefully ornamented Japanica makes for an authentic ethnic dining experience and a truly memorable outing. Enjoy a wide variety of sushi, rice and noodle dishes or the establishment’s signature hibachi, served straight off the grill mere inches away. This menu offers dinner and a show like nothing else; deft chopping and knife tossing are the norm, but your chef might just offer to squirt sake directly into your mouth as well! All hibachi entrées are served with generous appetizers of soup, salad, fried rice and shrimp. You may count on going home stuffed, satisfied and even astounded. (S.M.) $$$. CC. RS. FB. Handicap access. 281-9868

 

Kanpai

408 E. Chicago St.

The elaborate wood sushi bar is an attraction in itself. So is the sushi. The signature rolls are elaborate presentations. Try the suri toro nigiri sushi, the belly of hamachi or yellowtail. This is a sister restaurant to Brookfield’s Wasabi and the menu follows the Japanese fusion theme, although it is not identical and includes innovative small plates. Grilled sea scallops are served over orzo pasta and jalapeno poppers are stuffed with wagyu beef. Expect to be frequently surprised. (J.B.) $$$. CC. RS. FB. Handicap access. 220-1155

 

Kiku Japanese Cuisine

202 W. Wisconsin Ave.

The focus at Kiku is sushi with nearly eight different nigiri and makis to choose from. Entrées include teriyaki, tempura, seafood and noodles. While the appetizers lack gyoza there are items like grilled hamachi collar and a jellyfish salad. The sushi is always fresh and of good quality. A sure bet is the tempura, especially the jumbo shrimp in a feather-light batter. The setting is casual with many private booths. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. Handicap access. 270-1988

 

Kyoto

7453 W. Layton Ave.

Kyoto offers good Japanese food and has expanded over the years to include items from China and Thailand. The tempura rarely gets better, especially the shrimp. Lunch specials offer exceptional value, with occasional $5 entrées that include choice of soup. (J.B.) $$. CC. RS. Handicap access. 325-1000

 

Meiji Cuisine

2503 Plaza Court, Waukesha

Meiji is actually two restaurants in one. The first is Japanese and the second Sichuan Chinese. The Japanese has the usual sushi, tempura and some hibachi tables for the Benihana-type experience. But the real attraction is the Sichuan fare. Items are prepared with uncommon authenticity from the thin slices of barely-cooked pork belly to more familiar items like Chongqing chili beef. The menu is extensive and about half of the dishes are mild in spicing, but dare to be different and order that fish fillet with pickled vegetable soup. (J.B.) $-$$$. CC. Handicap access. 262-717-9858

 

Sake Tumi

714 N. Milwaukee St.

Situated among Milwaukee Street’s thriving scene of bars and restaurants, Sake Tumi’s centerpiece is a long sushi bar that dominates the dining area. Sake Tumi’s original menu was a pioneer in Asian fusion, offering a few Korean items along with Japanese cuisine. That tradition continues, as today’s menu expands its options for Korean food and adds some Chinese dishes as well. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 224-7253

 

Screaming Tuna

106 W. Seeboth St.

The urban riverside setting is spectacular with floor-to-ceiling windows. All tables have fine views. The menu originally aimed at Asian fusion but is now more comfortably Japanese. Sushi rules, though there are a few dinner entrées. The outdoor terrace in warmer weather is a delight, especially in late evening when the city lights up. (J.B.) $$ (lunch) $$$-$$$$ (dinner). CC. OD. FB. Handicap access. 763-1637

 

Umami Moto

718 N. Milwaukee St.

When it first opened, Umami Moto dazzled taste buds with its innovative Asian fusion. The place has since changed chefs and décor but still entices with fare that now aims closer to Japan. This means more focus on sushi rather than lobster potstickers, but Umami still offers occasional surprises. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. Handicap access. 727-9333

 

Wasabi Sushi & Sake Lounge

15455 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield

The menu and setting set Wasabi apart among suburban restaurants. It’s very Japanese and luxuriant. The menu offers occasional Asian fusion surprises and entrées feature a bit of everything. The star here is the special maki sushi rolls, which are wildly creative and extravagant. (J.B.) $$$. RS. Handicap access. 262-780-0011

 

KOREAN

 

Seoul Korean Restaurant

2178 N. Prospect Ave.

This is the only area restaurant devoted to Korean food. All of the basics are here such as beef bulgoki, kalbi and spicy grilled pork. The house specialties are large enough to serve a few diners and are heated with a butane burner at the table. Though eel is no longer served, there are many unusual items to try. (J.B.) $. CC. Handicap access. 289-8208

 

Stone Bowl Grill

1958 N. Farwell Ave.

The name refers to the bibimbop served steaming hot in a stone bowl. The menu is pure Korean and a delight from grilled fare like bulgogi to the fried mandoo, the perfect starter. The kimchi is carefully seasoned, not overpowering. Stone Bowl offers caring service in a beautiful setting. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. RS. 220-9111

 

LATIN AMERICAN

 

Antigua Mexican and Latin Restaurant

5823 W. Burnham St.

Latin American, Mexican and Spanish staples make up Antigua’s large menu. You will find pupusas from El Salvador, empanadas from Argentina, lomo saltado from Peru and that Spanish classic, paella. Though the menu covers a lot of territory the preparations are authentic and everything is worth a try. Bring out the sangria. (E.R.) $$$. CC. FB. RS. SB. FF. 321-5775

 

El Salvador Restaurant

2316 S. Sixth St.

A classic Salvadoran item is pupusas, corn cakes with a choice of fillings that are grilled. Delicious! Salpicon is seasoned minced beef that is served at room temperature with excellent homemade tortillas. Chicharron con yucca is chunks of pork meat that have been fried to a crisp served over yucca, a root tuber much like a potato. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. 645-1768

 

MEXICAN

 

3 Magueyes

2423 S. Sixth St.

Mexican seafood is the specialty of this extensive menu. Red snapper Veracruz differs from tradition but is a lovely deep-fried whole fish topped with avocado salad. Most dishes are conservatively seasoned, but there are items that will challenge even the most dedicated chili fan. The camarones a la diabla are very fiery, while the beef lomo with an arbol chile sauce is positively incendiary. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. 383-5161

 

BelAir Cantina

1935 N. Water St., 226-2245

6817 North Ave., 988-8533

The BelAir Cantina is quite a place to be seen with its curved roof and large banks of windows. It turns nearly open-air on warmer days. The menu is that of a Mexican taqueria, focused on tacos, tostadas and burritos. They are sold singly, which allows for variety. Among the best are pork carnitas, carne asada and tilapia Baja style. The food is authentic Mexican touches with a bit of California. Stop in and try out the latest trend—Korean beef tacos. (J.B.) $. CC. OD. SB. Handicap access.

 

 

Botanas Restaurant

816 S. Fifth St.

Those who like milder Mexican cooking but still want variety will enjoy Botanas. Chicken enchiladas and pork tamales are always good, and the tortilla soup is comforting. Camarones a la diabla have an abundance of shrimp, while the chiles espanoles are a delightful vegetarian dish in short supply at most Mexican restaurants. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. RS. FB. OD. 672-3755

 

Café Corazon

3129 N. Bremen St.

Café Corazon is a cozy little spot on a quiet Riverwest street. The menu is mainly Mexican and the items are simple. Meat fillings for tacos, burrito and enchiladas include chicken, chorizo, carne asada and mechada, a Venezuelan-style pulled beef. Vegetarians can choose from soy chorizo, grilled vegetables or true vegan options. The star of the menu has to be the blue mussels in an interesting style incorporating chorizo and jalapenos. Café Corazon also serves a weekend brunch. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. SB. 810-3941

 

Café El Sol

1028 S. Ninth St.

Located deep inside the United Community Center, El Sol’s visibility is relatively low, even though it has its own plainly marked entrance. But anyone who loves Mexican and Puerto Rican food shouldn’t overlook it. El Sol is notable for its daily Puerto Rican specials, but also serves up a fine selection of enchiladas, tacos, guacamole and tostadas. Try a breakfast of huevos rancheros or good old Yankee eggs, toast and bacon. The Friday fish fry buffet features live Latin music. Open Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. and Friday 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. (D.L.) $. CC. FF. RS. 384-3100

 

Café La Paloma

606 S. Fifth St.

Brightly painted walls and colorful art offer a sense of being south of the border; the warm bar room gives way to a cozy dining area of tables and comfortable chairs. Friendly servers are ready to greet patrons with a basket of freshly made tortilla chips and salsa. With appetite whetted, it is no challenge to find something to appeal to every taste on La Paloma's menu. Vegetarians take note, there are a lot of meatless delights here too! (S.H.G.) $-$$. FB. 226-5803

 

Cempazuchi Comida Brava

1205 E. Brady St.

The interior offers a hint of the menu with a colorful riot of Mexican handicrafts, most from Oaxaca. The splendid regional menu features a daily Oaxacan turkey mole, duck tacos al pastor and chicken pipian. The traditional soups please, as do the lake perch tacos with tangy chipotle mayonnaise. The bar, with its fine tequila inventory, is a fun spot to sample finger food with fresh fruit margaritas. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. OD. FB. RS. Handicap access. 291-5233

 

Chipotle Mexican Grill

600 E. Ogden Ave. 223-4710

3232 S. 27th St., 389-1380

15375 Bluemound Road, Brookfield, 262-796-0463

2711 N. Mayfair Road, 258-6649

Chipotle’s mission is to change the direction of America’s favorite ethnic food and set an example for the food service industry. The menu retains the tastiness of familiar Mexican-American dishes while jettisoning anything unhealthy. The meat and dairy products come from animals that roam freely. Most everything is made from fresh ingredients, down to the lime in the margaritas. Guacamole is prepared several times daily and the fresh-baked chips are among the best anywhere. (D.L.) $. CC. OD. FB. Handicap access.

 

Cielito Lindo

739 S. Second St.

The dining room is a colorful Mexican fantasy with tropical Mexican murals on orange walls and a ceiling with a vivid blue sky and a giant eagle. Nobody will ever fall asleep in this room! The menu includes reasonably priced Mexican standards with decent chile rellenos. Items with salsa verde and salsa rojo are also worth a try. There are two dining areas, both with bars, and a patio. Though there are few items that are unique here, the cooking is sound and the prices reasonable. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 649-0401

 

El Beso

5030 S. 74th St.

The exterior is like a Technicolor ChiChi’s, a large hacienda painted in blazing neon colors. The interior is a faux Mexican village with tables on several levels, a congenial bar and outdoor patio seating. The food here is quite good—definitely not a ChiChi’s clone. The menu features the usual tacos and enchiladas as well as spicy shrimp soup and sautéed steak strips in a blazingly hot arbol chile sauce. (J.B.) CC. Handicap access. 817-0362

 

El Cabrito

1100 S. 11th St.

The Cabrito name has been popularized around town by two vans serving lunch tacos. The mothership restaurant offers a wider range of spicy, authentic food including tacos, tortas, burritos, gorditas and tostadas. A wide variety of meats are used but there are also vegetarian options. The tacos al pastor are among the best in Milwaukee. (J.B.) $. CC. 385-9000

 

El Canaveral

2501 W. Greenfield Ave.

El Canaveral is set in a vintage Schlitz corner tavern. The interior is appealing with a front bar with beer tappers and a rear dining room with colorful Mexican decorations. A landscaped dining terrace is in the rear. The menu offers unpretentious Mexican fare with a nice grilled skirt steak, shrimp in several preparations and a large parrillada. Items of note are the codorniz (a Cornish game hen with a mild chile paste), the birria made with lamb and the delicious cactus paddle salad. (J.B.) $. CC. FB. 671-7118

 

El Fuego Mexican Restaurant

909 W. Layton Ave.

El Fuego is a jumbo-sized Mexican establishment, but the amenities are nice with an inviting bar plus an outdoor patio complete with palm trees and a cascading waterfall. The food ranges from above average to quite good. Guacamole is made on the spot and the shrimp cocktails are large and a bit spicy. Do try the chicken with mole poblano. This kitchen has an excellent recipe for this chocolate-based sauce. Prices are affordable, except for the premium tequilas, of course. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 455-3534

 

El Local

1801 S. 11th St.

El Local’s reputation rises from authentic Mexican tacos and other simple items, including exceptional tacos al pastor and carnitas. The birria, a goat meat soup, is as hearty as a stew. Seafood varies from the jumbo Mexican cocktails to a mixed seafood soup and whole red snappers in a classic preparation. (J.B.) $-$$. Handicap access. 389-9789

 

El Senorial

1901 S. 31st St.

The menu is standard Mexican fare, but the selection is broad and the quality consistent. Try chorizo tacos with a spicy punch or a big platter of shrimp fajitas. The house specialty is parrillada, a tabletop grill with an assortment of meats. Start the meal with a good ceviche and finish with vanilla flan. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 385-9506

 

Fajitas Grill Centro

530 E. Mason St.

Fajitas are clearly the specialty and are offered in many ways. They are made with chicken, pork, beef and even seafood or veggie. For the lighter appetite, try tacos made the traditional Mexican way with chopped cilantro and onions (no lettuce, tomato or American cheese). The corn tortillas are made on site and make quite a difference. (J.B.) $$. FF. 312-7799

 

Fiesta Garibaldi

821 W. Lincoln Ave.

Fiesta Garibaldi offers excellent, medium-priced Mexican food, in a festive and casual family-style atmosphere. Known for friendly staff and quick service, they have a wide seafood selection, made with fresh ingredients. Enjoy delicious homemade horchata, premium margaritas or creamy piña coladas. You’ll definitely be taking home a doggy bag, because they are very generous with the chips and salsa, as well as the portions. (D.S.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap Access. 645-4552

 

Habanero’s Mexican Kitchen

869 N. Mayfair Road, 607-9025

3900 W. Brown Deer Road, 355-5680

With hearty greetings of “Amigos!” the Habanero’s servers gladly bring second baskets of their tasty complimentary chips and are always keen on fast service from a sprawling menu encompassing generous portions of familiar Mexican dishes. There are even vegetarian options and not all items are dialed down spicewise. Lovers of tequila will find 20 varieties along with a lengthy margarita list. (D.L.) $$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access.

 

Jalapeño Loco

5067 S. Howell Ave.

Jalapeño Loco has a menu for everyone. If steak tacos and chicken enchiladas are your thing, you’ll be just as satisfied as the person who orders chiles en nogada or the mole Oaxaqueno. Try the pork ribs in salsa verde, a tart sauce with a spicy kick. The setting is casual with a large fireplace and a bar serving fine gold margaritas. Seasonal specials make this one of the most distinctive local Mexican restaurants. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. OD. FB. 483-8300

 

La Canoa

1520 W. Lincoln Ave.

Mexican seafood is the specialty; the dining room is a riot of color with chairs carved with images of every sea creature imaginable. The bar resembles the hull of a boat. La Canoa’s menu has everything from oysters to langostinos, whole red snappers and even frog legs. The seafood cocktails are huge and there are many soup options. Portions tend to be generous and freebies include fish ceviche plus an empanada. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 645-1140

 

La Fuente

625 S. Fifth St., 271-8595

9155 W. Bluemound Road, 771-9900

2423 Kossow Road, Waukesha, 262-717 9400

Tacos, burritos and enchiladas rule the menu here. Modest prices always draw a crowd. The menu offers a decent shrimp soup and camaron a la diabla for those who like their food very fiery. This is a fun spot for cerveza-swigging groups. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. LT. Handicap access.

 

La Perla

734 S. Fifth St.

With the restaurant’s expansive tequila selection, weekend shuttle bus to and from college campuses and mechanical bull shaped like a hot pepper, La Perla’s food is sometimes overshadowed by the party. These silly surroundings, however, house some surprisingly authentic Mexican cuisine. Entrées are marked by robust sauces and served on overflowing plates. Of course, if you just want a margarita to wash down your nachos, you can get that, too. (E.R.) $. CC. OD. FB. LT. 645-9888

 

La Salsa

119 E. Oklahoma Ave.

The exterior is a colorful orange. The interior has a rainbow of colors thanks to colorful serapes and sombreros. The menu is the type you would find on Lincoln Avenue with menudo, many shrimp dishes and a parrillada. The latter is a tabletop grill heaped with grilled chicken, beef, chorizo, onions and a banana pepper. It is also sold as a single serving, which is not always possible. It is everything a good local Mexican restaurant should be. (J.B.) $. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 483-0522

 

Lala’s Place

3470 E. Layton Ave.

Cudahy is an unlikely spot for a Mexican restaurant but this former diner does the trick. Lala is the owner and manages to visit every table when she is here. The kitchen makes a fine chicken mole and decent pork al pastor. The décor is modest but this is a friendly place with even friendlier prices. A plate lunch is just $5.25 and a T-bone steak (the priciest entrée) is just $10.75. (J.B.) $. CC. 744-4417

 

Quiote

5814 W. Bluemound Road

If you remember the fine Mexican menu at the former Oaxaca Grill, then you’ll enjoy Quiote, which has the same chef/owner. This means intense moles made onsite, tasty shrimp tacos and chile rellenos that simply are the best. Quiote is a small place with just five tables. Take a chance on getting a seat and be rewarded with some fine Mexican fare. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. NA. 698-2708

 

Riviera Maya

2258 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Riviera Maya is spacious with contemporary Mayan-inspired décor. The menu is centered on six different moles served with a choice of four meat and two vegetarian options. Entrées and sandwiches include a cup of the excellent sopa de tortilla, an inspired version of a traditional Mexican soup. (J.B.)  $$. CC. FB. SB. Handicap access. 294-4848

 

Rudy’s Mexican Restaurant

1122 N. Edison St.

Rudy’s remains popular, with a menu focused on tacos, burritos, tostadas and an especially good chile relleno. Some items are grilled, including chuletas rancheras, a pair of pork chops. Quick service and ample seating make this a good pick for families and larger groups. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. OD. 223-1122

 

Señor Sol

8129 W. Greenfield Ave.

Señor Sol serves authentic Mexican cuisine with decently sized portions. Enjoy all the regular Mexican restaurant staples, like fresh homemade guacamole, complimentary chips and salsa, nachos, combos, enchiladas, burritos and tostadas— Señor Sol is known to be tastily above the average fare. Wash all this down with fresh margaritas, horchata and Corona. (D.S.) (J.B.) $-$$. CC. OD. Handicap access. 456-9955

 

Terra Restaurant & Bar

600 S. Sixth St.

Much of the menu could be from a Greek family restaurant. There are omelets, pancakes, burgers, pork souvlaki and even a Greek salad. But the Mexican items are exceptional, even in an area filled with Mexican restaurants. Shrimp a la diabla, Yucatecan tamales and chicken tinga are among the highlights. The setting is more like a lounge, with earthy tones and contemporary artwork instead of purple sombreros and orange serapes. Even the enchiladas are above ordinary. (J.B.) $-$$. FB. Handicap access. 220-9940

 

Villa’s Restaurant

2522 W. Greenfield Ave.

This small eatery has a big menu and even larger servings, plus some interesting Oaxacan specialties. The only mole is a mole negro, delicious with chicken or pork. The gorditas are delicious with handmade corn cakes and several choices of filling. More unusual is the tlayuda, a folded tortilla the size of a small pizza with abundant filling. While the décor is basic, the quantity and quality of the food more than compensate. Simple margaritas are available as are a few Mexican beers. (J.B.) $. CC. Handicap access. 672-1943

 

MIDDLE  EASTERN

 

Casablanca

728 E. Brady St.

Casablanca has some of the best Middle Eastern food in these parts. Of special note are the grape leaves, chicken sumac and some truly exceptional shawarma. This is truly a menu of Eastern delights. Vegetarians are treated regally. The weekday lunchtime vegetarian buffet is a great way for newcomers to explore the delightful menu. Casablanca doubled its size with an upper-level addition. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. LB. RS. SB. Handicap access. 271-6000

 

Moe’s Middle Eastern Grill

1814 N. Farwell Ave.

Delicious fried balls of ground chickpeas are but one of the delectable dishes available at Moe’s. The menu offers a gorgeous selection of freshly chopped salads, including the salata bil tahiniah, a zingy, flavorful combination of diced tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and tart tahini dressing. All priced at $4.99, the salads complement Moe’s sandwiches, soups and entrées. (E.P.) $$. CC.

 

Sababa

391 E. State St.

By day Sababa is a café serving breakfast and lunch for the Downtown office crowd, but in the evening Sababa takes on another character. The area away from the office atrium has a bar and a small lounge. And the menu offers Middle Eastern mezza, or small plates. It is appealing lighter fare with many items for the vegetarian. Meat eaters will enjoy kefta sliders and the beef tenderloin shawarma wrap. This is a delightful bar/lounge in a very unlikely location. (J.B.) $-$$. FB. CC. OD. Handicap access. 224-9507

 

Shahrazad

2847 N. Oakland Ave.

Arabian nights (and lunches) are a pleasure to behold at this popular East Side spot for Middle Eastern cuisine. Vegetarians delight in the many meat-free appetizers; fans of chargrilled lamb, chicken and beef will find kebab plates filled past the brim. The dinner menu also offers Persian specialties, mainly kebabs. Freshly baked desserts include the highly recommended warbat, an Arabic custard-filled pastry. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 964-5475

 

MONGOLIAN

 

Genghis Khan

725 N. Mayfair Road

Chinese food is on the menu, but the main attraction is the Mongolian grill, where you can build your own meal—from a salad-bar selection of vegetables, meats and condiments—and watch it sizzle. (D.L.) $-$$. CC. FB. RS. LB. Handicap access. 774-5540

 

PERUVIAN

 

Chef Paz

9039 W. National Ave.

Peruvian and diner fare meet at this casual West Allis eatery. The chef/owner is Maritza Paz, who has quite a talent with Peruvian dishes. Fish escabeche has Spanish origins and is topped with pungent onions marinated in vinegar. The shrimp ceviche is fine, marinated in lime juice and served with giant kernels of corn. Those with tamer appetites will find inexpensive weekday specials like meat loaf and roast chicken. (J.B.) $. CC. OD. BW. 327-1600

 

PIZZA

 

Balistreri’s

812 N. 68th St.

This is Wauwatosa’s destination for a good pizza. Family friendly, the old-time pizzeria offers many thin-crust pizzas along with a few other items such as Sicilian steak, veal and pastas. But pizza is the reason the place is always so busy. (J.B.) $$. CC. FF. 475-1414

 

Divino Wine & Dine

2315 N. Murray Ave.

This is the former Palermo Villa, long an Eastside institution for pizza. The new owners have kept the pizza recipes, but now their starter courses and entrées have been expanded in this Sicilian-American menu. Starter courses vary form mozzarella marinara and fried eggplant to things like arancini (filled rice balls) and rapini (grilled broccoli rabe). The nice Palermo salad has conch and tender octopus. Most pastas and a few entrées are sold in smaller portions. This means that you can order both the beef tenderloin spedini and the fettuccine puttanesca without spending a fortune. (J.B.) $$. Handicap access. FB. 212-2222

 

Joey Buona’s

500 N. Water St.

Buona’s is about Chicago-style Italian. This means fine Italian beef sandwiches but also those stuffed pizzas that will feed an army. The décor is compelling in one of Downtown’s landmark buildings. The menu broadens to include other Sicilian-American dishes but the pizza and beef are the reasons to come. (J.B.) $$$. RS. Handicap access. 272-8662

 

Lisa’s Pizzeria

2961 N. Oakland Ave.

Vintage red-and-white checkered tablecloths remind customers of Italian restaurants from days past. The pizza’s vintage in its own right, baked with a crispy-crackled crust, plenty of zesty sauce and toppings to boot. Consistently rated as an East Side favorite. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. 332-6360

 

Little DeMarinis

2860 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

The original Mama DeMarinis closed in 2012, but much to the relief of those who’d been craving a slice of their favorite pizza, Little DeMarinis is now open. Leading the new venture is the granddaughter of Lucille and Vincent DeMarinis. Veronica Cieslak and her husband Joe have the original handwritten recipes, so the crust, sauce and sausage will all taste just the way long-time patrons remember. For those new to DeMarinis pizza, that means a 1950s-style thin crust pizza, loaded with fresh, homemade sausage. (S.H.G.) $-$$. FB. FF. Handicap access. 763-5272

 

Maria’s Pizzeria

5025 W. Forest Home Ave.

Visit Maria’s Pizza, its three generations of family owners and its loyal clientele for a glimpse into 1950s dedication and charm. Established more than half a century ago, Maria’s is decked out in festive Christmas lights, paint-by-number religious pictures and Tiffany-style lamps. You’ll smell the delicious sesame seed garlic bread from a block away and the tasty breaded appetizers will have your mouth watering in seconds. Italian classics such as spaghetti and lasagna are available and the enormous, signature thin-crust pizzas are made to satisfy any appetite. (S.M.) $-$$. Cash Only. Handicap access. 543-4606

 

Marty’s Pizza

16630 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield, 262-782-5830

2580 Sun Valley Drive, Delafield, 262-646-3327

Since 1957, Marty’s Pizza transitioned from celebrated pizza place to beloved institution by serving up traditional Italian-American comfort food in a casual atmosphere at affordable prices. Nearly 60 years later, Marty’s Pizza boasts locations in Delafield and Brookfield and a successful catering business that includes hosting special events and offering online ordering. And while Marty’s has clearly embraced the changing times, recent visits to the Brookfield location revealed that the local favorite retained much of its old-fashioned charm without being outdated with a menu of subs, burgers and Italian entrées along with pizza. (E.P.) $-$$. CC. RS. Handicap access.

 

Pizza Man

2597 N. Downer Ave.

Among the ruins salvaged to recall the old Pizza Man in its new space were the original bar and much of the old menu. Some artifacts, like the bag-and-tackle pulley entrance door, were replicated. Most important: the pizza. From the first bite of our spinach, basil, onion, mushroom and half black olives staple, I was not disappointed. Many of the old favorites are back, plus items for the health-conscious diner to indulge in without guilt. Pizza Man has been a perennial winner of Wine Spectator magazine’s Award of Excellence. (L.N.) $$. CC. FB. GF. LT. 272-1745

 

Pizza Shuttle

1827 N. Farwell Ave.

Pizza, wings, burgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken, pasta, seafood, gyros, shawarma, pita, subs, wraps, calzone, stromboli, every sort of greasy appetizer, garlic bread, bread sticks, homemade soups, salads, sundaes, shakes, malts, floats, cheesecake, funnel cake, cookies, soda and beer are on the vast menu. “Best Of” awards for take-out, late night, cheap eats and fast delivery fill a wall. The retro dine-in area has a front wall of windows, a classic photo booth and a Pac-Man video game. (J.S.) $. CC. LT. Handicap access. 289-9993

 

Pizzeria Piccola

7606 W. State St.

Mitchell International Air Port, Concourse C

At the Wauwatosa location, just order at the counter and find an upstairs table. The menu centers on Neapolitan pizzas, single-sized with a thin center crust and doughy edges. All toppings are traditional Italian in combinations that can’t fail. There is also sautéed mozzarella as a starter, an arugula salad, pastas and decent paninis. A small selection of wine and beer is also served. (J.B.) $$. CC. OD. GF. Handicap access. 443-0800

 

Riverfront Pizzeria

509 E. Erie St.

Inside you’ll find a bar along with many windows facing the RiverWalk in a renovated warehouse space with marbleized concrete floors and a high ceiling with exposed beams. The excellent pizza is the focus, but the menu also offers appetizers, salads, pastas, sandwiches and a limited number of entrées. Geared toward casual, Riverfront Pizzeria is a fun place to be. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 277-1800

 

Rustico Pizzeria

223 N. Water St.

Rustico is a more casual venue than its sister restaurant, Zarletti. The menu focuses on pizza with a few salads, pastas, paninis and appetizers. Outdoor dining is directly on the RiverWalk. The pizzas rank with Milwaukee’s best. The pasta prima vera is lovely with the flavor of grilled vegetables, while the pasta della nonna is as good as Zarletti’s. The menu is affordable, making it a fine Third Ward dining option. (J.B.) $$. CC. FF. SB. Handicap access. 220-9933

 

SoLo Pizza

2856 N. Oakland Ave.

SoLo is the new name for the former Oakland Trattoria. The menu is more focused on the wood-fired pizzas although entrée salads and a few pastas remain. Design your own pizza here. There are three sizes and the cost for the many toppings is minimal, even for anchovies and prosciutto. The new interior is more vibrant. Tile mosaics have flame designs and a lot of sizzle. $$. FF. RS. Handicap access. (J.B.) $$. CC. Handicap access. 964-2850

 

Transfer Pizza

101 W. Mitchell St.

The crust at Transfer is exceptional, thin and a bit puffy at times. The options are numerous. The white pizzas with roasted garlic are a delight, but the red sauce also rocks. Lunch here is one of the finest bargains in town. Look for live music on Tuesday evenings. (J.B.) $-$$. FB. Handicap access. 763-0438

 

Zaffiro’s Pizza

1724 N. Farwell Ave.

The setting is definitely tavern, but they serve the best traditional thin-crust pizza in town. No such toppings as duck sausage here; just one cheese is used and nothing is wood-fired. Stick to pepperoni, pork sausage and anchovies. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. RS for 10+. FF. FB. LT. Handicap access. 289-8776

 

POLISH

 

Crocus

3577 S. 13th St.

The dining room is full of ethnic charm. While the menu has such unusual items as czarnina and tripe soup, most items are very accessible, including the beef roll-ups. The soups taste homemade. The pierogis (filled fried dumplings) are always good and the stuffed cabbage is traditional Polish home fare. Don’t miss the perch with potato pancakes on Friday. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. FF. Handicap access. 643-6383

 

Polonez Restaurant

4016 S. Packard Ave.

Polonez’s menu retains its hearty, homey feel. Stuffed cabbage and pierogis are tasty, filling fare and Fridays have a fish fry with fine potato pancakes. Daily specials include ever-so-tender beef roll-ups. Top it all off with a bottle of Polish beer. Try the Saturday night all-you-can-eat polka buffet. (J.B.) $$. CC. SB. FF. FB. RS. GF. Handicap access. 482-0080

 

PUERTO  RICAN

 

Café El Sol

1028 S. Ninth St.

Located deep inside the United Community Center, El Sol’s visibility is relatively low, even though it has its own plainly marked entrance. But anyone who loves Mexican and Puerto Rican food shouldn’t overlook it. El Sol is especially notable for its daily Puerto Rican specials, but also serves up a fine selection of Mexican favorites. Try a breakfast of huevos rancheros or good old Yankee eggs, toast and bacon. The Friday fish fry buffet features live Hispanic music. (D.L.) $. CC. FF. 384-3100 ext. 275

 

El Farol Restaurant & Grocery

1401 W. Washington St.

A modest establishment in a residential neighborhood, El Farol combines a small supermarket with a restaurant. The market has items like roast pork, empanadas and papas rellenos. The illustrated menu is small with steak with onions, roast chicken, fried fish and daily specials tending toward stews. Do order the Puerto Rican rice. Prices are reasonable and the flavors ring true. (J.B.) $. CC. 647-1899

 

La Isla

3500 W. National Ave.

La Isla offers homey Puerto Rican fare in a casual setting. The specialty is mofongo, mashed plantains with garlic in the shape of a ball and served with a choice of meat. The mofongo is also stuffed with shrimp in a garlicky Creole sauce. Pork and fried chicken are also prominent in this menu. Daily specials tend to be slow-cooked stews varying from chicken and beef to pork tripe with green bananas. This is honest Puerto Rican fare. Most items include rice and beans or a simple salad. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. NA. 882-7003

 

SEAFOOD

 

American Serb Hall

5101 W. Oklahoma Ave.

The Friday fish fry at Serb Hall is more than a meal—it’s an event. Whether you’re chowing down on deep-fried cod, baked cod, perch, pollock, shrimp, chicken or Serb Hall’s specialty, spicy Serbian baked fish, you’ll take home memories as well as a doggie bag. For those pressed for time, use the convenient drive-through. (L.K.) $$. CC. FB. FF. 545-6030

 

The Anchorage

4700 N. Port Washington Road

The dining room features windows overlooking a tranquil Milwaukee River. As the name suggests, seafood is the specialty and is flown in from all three coasts. Steaks are also featured. It’s a nice restaurant to find in a suburban chain hotel. (J.B.) $$$. CC. OD. FF. FB. RS. Handicap access. 962-4710

 

Devon Seafood & Steak

5715 N. Bayshore Drive

Though part of a chain, Devon offers fresh seafood, discreet service and an elegant setting with abundant stonework and wood. The fine fish changes daily; expect whitefish, salmon, swordfish and mahi mahi. Aged steaks are also offered, sold solo or with choice of seafood. Of note are the fresh oysters and Maryland-style crab cakes. The Devon pays a lot of attention to detail, which adds up to a fine-dining experience. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 967-9790

 

Harbor House

550 N. Harbor Drive

Enter and you’ll first see a bar topped with white marble. The dining area also is white from the walls to the linens, a contrast with the dark hardwood floors. A long band of windows offer prime views of the Calatrava. The raw bar excels with the finest oysters in town. All seafood is ultra fresh. The place gets noisy but who cares?  (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. RS. SB. Handicap access. 395-4900

 

Joey’s Seafood & Grill

12455 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield

Go for the fish and chips, as the haddock is in a good crisp batter. Joey’s adds nautical charm to a small strip mall and the bar makes a comfortable watering hole. The prices are family friendly. In general if you keep it simple Joey’s is enjoyable. You will not find oysters or Maine lobsters here but then again the prices are affordable, especially for weekday lunches. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 262-790-9500

 

McCormick & Schmick’s

2550 N. Mayfair Road

Mayfair Mall is the first Wisconsin location of this national seafood restaurant chain. The dining room and bar are topped with a huge stained-glass dome. The setting is casual yet clubby. Seafood reigns here although a few steaks and pastas are available. The seafood is always very fresh and the raw oysters are quite good. Seafood preparations tend to be conservative and American—good sound food. The smaller lunch menu offers entrées at reduced prices and there are some good happy hour specials. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. RS. FB. 475-0700

 

Milwaukee Sail Loft

649 E. Erie St.

The place is casual with an outdoor patio and bar and a spacious interior dining room. The menu offers sandwiches for lower budgets. The Maryland crab cakes are mighty fine and the Seafood Diablo is a pasta dish with abundant treats from the sea. The house specialty is lobster boil. Landlubbers will find pork, chicken and a few steaks. Quality and preparation standout. The riverfront views put you in the mood for seafood. (J.B.) $$-$$$$. CC. Handicap access. OD. FB. 223-0100

 

Molly Cool’s Seafood Tavern

1110 N. Old World Third St.

Molly Cool’s is a big series of dining rooms with two bars and prime views of the Milwaukee River. Outdoor seating is available along the RiverWalk. The focus is on seafood although steaks, chicken and ribs are also served. The live Maine lobsters are displayed in a tank. The selection of oysters and finfish changes daily. Happy hour specials include $1 oysters. This is a lively and noisy place at prime times, tranquil at others. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. OD. FF. RS. SB. Handicap access. 831-8862

 

River Lane Inn

4313 W. River Lane

This former country store attracts a very urbane crowd. Fresh seafood is the attraction. Though there is a printed menu, with sanddabs and other unusual opetions, look for specials on the chalkboard. Hope to find grouper and halibut cheeks. Wednesday features a Maine lobster boil. (J.B.) $$$. CC. RS. OD. FF. FB. 354-1995

 

St. Paul Fish Co.

400 N. Water St.

Located inside the Milwaukee Public Market, St. Paul Fish offers a wide range of seafood for the home cook. It also has offers full-service dining. Oysters on the half shell are served over shaved ice and the steamed lobsters and fried clams bring back fond memories of New England. There are many sandwiches as well as grilled seafood entrées. (J.B.) $$. CC. Handicap access. 220-8383

 

Twisted Fisherman Crab Shack

1200 W. Canal St.

This is not a large place in winter with just nine interior tables. But in summer the outdoor picnic tables seat many more. The Fisherman has a crab shack theme, so expect crab legs and daily fresh fish specials. Enjoy the oysters on the half shell and the intense shrimp bisque. Salads are novel and summery in spirit. Ribs and T-bone steaks are meatier options and there are sandwiches for lighter appetites and a daily fish fry of Lake Erie perch in a fine batter. (J.B.) $$. CC. OD. FB. Handicap access. 384-2722

 

SERBIAN

 

Fritz’s Pub

3086 S. 20th St.

This corner bar offers burek, pork shishkabob, chewaps and a Fritzburger of veal and pork. The chewaps are a shortened name for chevapchichi—tasty Serbian sausages. The burek (filled dinner pastry) takes an hour to prepare, but orders may be phoned ahead. They are also sold frozen to go. (J.B.) $. CC. FF. No handicap access. 643-6995

 

Old Town Serbian Gourmet House

522 W. Lincoln Ave.

Old Town’s specialties include burek, a huge phyllo dough pastry with different fillings. Also good is the sarma, stuffed cabbage filled with rice and smoked pork, and the excellent suckling pig. The chicken soup is always excellent and the roasted red pepper salad should not be missed. Lunches are a great find for the budget minded. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. FB. FF. RS. 672-0206

 

Three Brothers

2414 S. St. Clair St.

This former Schlitz corner tavern, a Bay View landmark, deserves a visit. Tables are crowded and the kitchen is slow, but the Serbian food is mostly worth the wait. Bureks are huge and sarma (stuffed cabbage) always pleases. (J.B.) $$-$$$. Cash Only. FB. Handicap access. 481-7530

 

SOUP

 

The Soup House

324 E. Michigan St.

High-ceilinged, open and welcoming, The Soup House’s interior is painted sky blue and decked out in eclectic, artsy furnishings, with potted plants along the ample windows. Attractive partitions make the dining area cozy and somewhat private, but leave its spaciousness unchecked. Six delicious rotating soups are the principal cause for this inspired establishment, but simple sandwiches, cookies and salads are also available. Enjoy a conversation with friends or peruse one of the many interesting books lying around, while you take in the rich and varied flavors of The Soup House. (S.M.) $. Cash only. OD. NA. GF. 277-7687

 

The Soup Market

440 N. Water St. (inside Milwaukee Public Market), 276-4444

2211 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 727-8462

5301 S. 108th St., 414-529-8534

5330 W. Vliet St., 414-727-0699

111 Kilbourn Ave., 414-727-0700

The Soup Market (called The Soup & Stock Market at its Water Street location) offers tasty home-style selections. Pick up one of the seven daily soups, a baked potato, sweet potato or a hearty slice of quiche at the Public Market branch, and dine upstairs where ample seating is available with an attractive view of the Milwaukee River and Third Ward. Bulk ingredients are also for sale and Haley & Annabelle’s Vanilla Root Beer makes a smooth and unique beverage complement to any dish, with proceeds going to the namesakes’ college funds! (S.M.) $. CC. NA.

 

 

SOUTHERN/SOUL FOOD

 

Ashley’s Que

124 W. National Ave.

The original Ashley’s is an inner city venue offering only carryouts. Ashley’s Que sports a Walker’s Point location with many tables and a bar. The specialty is barbeque and Ashley’s has one of the best spicy & tangy sauces around. The pulled pork, rib tips and chicken are the best though a very good fried chicken is served too. Also consider the shrimp and grits. Sandwiches are also available but barbeque is king here. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. OD. FB. Handicap access. 276-7666

 

Maxie’s Southern Comfort

6732 W. Fairview Ave.

Maxie’s offers Southern food and hospitality. While much is Louisiana in inspiration, starting with gumbo, jambalaya and po’ boy sandwiches, there is Carolina pulled pork and shrimp with grits. Check out the fresh seafood and oysters on the half shell. Save room for the peach pie. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. RS. FB. FF. Handicap access. 292-3969

 

Mr. Perkins Family Restaurant

2001 W. Atkinson Ave.

Business at this long-standing, African-American soul food eatery rarely lulls, and with good reason. The food packs a hearty wallop to the gut. Mr. Perkins makes everything from chicken and mac ’n’ cheese to chitterlings and collard greens. Closes at 3 p.m. (J.L.R.) $-$$. Cash Only. 447-6660 

 

SPANISH

 

España Tapas House

800 N. Plankinton Ave.

España is Milwaukee’s only true Spanish tapas bar. The menu is all Spanish as is the wine list. Bite size pintxos are the tiniest items on the menu. Other choices include olives seasoned with sherry vinaigrette, calamari cooked with garlic and olive and Serrano ham croquettes. The menu also has a few entrées, including paellas served in single portions and simple servings of meat and seafood. Those who enjoy the diverse flavors of Spain will savor this place. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC. RS. OD. GF. Handicapped access. 988-9468

 

STEAK AND CHOPHOUSES

 

Five O’Clock Steakhouse

2416 W. State St.

The menu is simple and all about meat. Call it T-bone, filet mignon, prime rib or porterhouse. Top it with buttered sautéed mushrooms—call it big. Even the rack of BBQ ribs barely fits on the platter. The décor is steakhouse retro, complete with a classic bar. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. RS. FB. 342-3553

 

Butch’s Old Casino Steakhouse

555 N. James Lovell St.

The first page of the menu is devoted to appetizers and steaks, the second to seafood, other meats and combination plates. A complimentary relish tray arrives with radishes, scallions, carrots, celery and pepperoncini. Some very good crusty Italian bread is also on the way. This is a sign that you will not be nickel-and-dimed here like at many upscale steakhouses. The entrées all also include a choice of soup or salad, and a baked potato. The steaks are all topped with whole mushrooms. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 271-8111

 

Capital Grille

310 W. Wisconsin Ave.

This high-end chain sets the standard for dry-aged steaks and fresh seafood. Maine lobsters run as large as five pounds. The Milwaukee branch also has a fine setting with dark woodwork and attentive service. Steaks rank with the best locally. No detail is too small, from the heirloom tomatoes on the fresh mozzarella salad to the Courvoisier cognac cream on the steak au poivre. The place seems made for expense accounts. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 223-0600

 

Carnevor

724 N. Milwaukee St.

The signage is hard to see, so look for a window showing a bar and dining room with accents of wood, dim lighting and a warm glow. Also look at the diners savoring what are hands-down the finest steaks in this area—with prices to match. The Australian Kobe filet mignon runs to $160! Everything from soup to salad to sides is strictly a la carte, which can add up quickly. But the luxurious seating, polished service and just one bite of the black peppercorn-crusted fillet should have everyone leaving with a smile. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 223-2200

 

Dream Dance Steak

1712 W. Canal St.

(inside Potawatomi Bingo Casino)

Dream Dance is the showcase restaurant of the Potawatomi Casino. There are champagne and cognac carts as well as a tremendous wine list. The approach is contemporary with a focus on American ingredients. Whether you choose seared scallops or venison, everything will be prepared with respect and skill. The décor is of contemporary luxury, the cutlery ultra pricey and everything from the amuse-bouche to dessert, an exercise in good taste. The prices rank with the most expensive but this is a worthy splurge. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 847-7883

 

Eddie Martini’s

8612 Watertown Plank Road

Frank and Dino could have used Eddie Martini’s bar as their watering hole. The drinks are potent enough to power the happy hour neon and the atmosphere is always dark and cool behind impenetrable Venetian blinds. The Rat Pack would have dug the swinging music, not to mention the steaks and chops, the escargot and shrimp cocktails. Everything’s A-OK. (D.L.) $$$$. CC. FB. RS. OD. Handicap access. 771-6680

 

Jackson Grill

3736 W. Mitchell St.

A cozy establishemnt, Jackson Grill resembles a 1940s supper club. Start with an appetizer of Cajun BBQ shrimp, more than enough for two. French cognac salad dressing has a retro steakhouse feel. The black angus filet is one of the best steaks found locally, seared on the outside and perfect medium rare in the middle. This is the place for serious red meat eaters. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. FF. 384-7384

 

Joey Gerard’s

11120 N. Cedarburg Road, Mequon, 262-518-5500

5601 Broad St., 858-1900

The Bartolotta Restaurant Group’s supper club concept has two suburban locations. Start with a lazy susan (charge) with goodies like cheese, sausage and smoked trout. Beef it up with a Merkt’s cheese ball, suggesting Wisconsin dining in the 1950s. Naturally there are escargot and oysters Rockefeller. Steaks and their side dishes dominate the menu, but there are also supper club classics like chicken Kiev and pan-fried lake perch. Both locations are popular, making reservations a must. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. RS. FB. OD (Greendale only).

 

Milwaukee ChopHouse

633 N. Fifth St.

(inside the Milwaukee Hilton)

The upscale steakhouse has the meat to match the prices, from the veal chop to the bone-in-ribeye steak. The range of items includes seafood and chicken. But appetizers and side items also shine from ahi tuna to grilled asparagus. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. RS. V. Handicap access. 226-2467

 

Milwaukee Steakhouse

6024 W. Bluemound Road

Chef Richard Alvarado brings on big steaks, thick pork chops and jumbo shrimp. The king of steaks is a 28-ounce porterhouse. Good luck finishing it. Entrées all include a relish tray, salad, sourdough bread and a choice of potato. Order a baked potato and slather it with sour cream. Steaks and the Saturday prime rib special are the best to order here. If your focus is on succulent beef and abundant quantity this is your steakhouse. (J.B.) $$$. CC. FB. OD. Handicap access. 312-7891

 

Mo’s: A Place for Steaks

720 N. Plankinton Ave.

This is the original Mo’s, which now has outposts in Indianapolis and Houston. The prices and setting all say upscale. Start with a retro wedge of salad, then move to bacon-wrapped sea scallops and an MC Alpine for an entrée. Surf and turf combines ribeye with an Australian lobster tail. Sides are extra. (J.B.) $$$$. CC. RS. FB. Handicap access. 272-0720

 

Steak House 100

7246 W. Greenfield Ave.

The beef ranges from USDA choice to Black Angus at Downtown West Allis’ classiest eatery. But there are more than prime rib and steaks. Appetizers range from escargot to riblets. Have an inexpensive sandwich or splurge with a filet and lobster tail. Whichever you choose, prices are reasonable. (J.B.) $$-$$$$. CC. FB. FF. RS. Handicap access. 727-2222

 

The Packing House
900 E. Layton Ave.
The Packing House is one of those classic Milwaukee restaurants with top-notch food, pop and jazz in the cocktail lounge, a robust Sunday brunch and a drive-through Friday fish fry option. Service is always professional and even large dinner parties will be served with ease. Steak, rib and seafood lovers will leave satisfied and the famous onion shreds are not to be missed. (L.K.) $$-$$$. CC. RS. FF. LT. SB. 483-5054

 

Ward’s House of Prime

540 E. Mason St.

The bar room has a soaring ceiling, a great wine selection and a select list of scotch and cognac. Prime rib is the specialty although chicken, lamb and seafood are served too. The bar has its own menu with lighter fare and some servings the size of tapas. The setting is pleasant, the seating spacious and the service good. (J.B.) $$$-$$$$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 223-0135

 

SUBS AND SANDWICHES

 

Chocolate Factory

5800 N. Bayshore Drive, 962-6770

W62 N577 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, 262-377-8877

2120 E. Moreland Blvd., Waukesha, 262-542-5405

13475 Watertown Plank Road, Elm Grove, 262-997-0006

1077 Summit Ave., Oconomowoc, 262-567-0625

1402 S. Main St., West Bend, 262-306-8894

161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Pewaukee, 262-264-0015

You will always be a kid in a 1950s ice cream parlor when you step into a Chocolate Factory. The more than 25 flavors of homemade ice cream just scratch the surface. They have flavored Coke’s, phosphates, fountain drinks, shakes, ice cream sodas and other sweets. The subs are renowned for their warm, flaky, tender bread. The Chocolate Factory likewise offers sandwiches, croissants, hot dogs, salads, soups, and veggie chili. Most establishments have cute booths and adorable atmosphere. (D.S.) $. CC. OD at select locations. NA. Handicap access.

 

Chubby’s Cheesesteaks

2232 N. Oakland Ave.

Many restaurants claim to serve Philly cheesesteaks yet few prepare them as they should. The rules are simple. Begin with a soft roll, not a baguette. The beef is not sliced but chopped and heated on a grill. Onions and green peppers are optional, and the preferred cheese is Cheez Whiz, although provolone and American are common substitutes. Chubby’s uses a soft roll from Sciortino’s with fried onions and a gooey mesh of cheese. (J.B.) $. CC. NA. LT. 287-9999

 

Cousins Subs

Multiple locations

Cousins was among the earliest venues to introduce the submarine sandwich to Milwaukee. The chain (which has since expanded to other Midwest states and even Arizona) features tuna, turkey breast, chicken breast, meatball, four varieties of cheese steaks and many other options all served on fresh Italian bread for a filling and flavorful meal on the run. Cousins also offers gargantuan party subs to take home and services many local delis and coffee shops with its sandwiches. (D.L.) $. CC. NA.

 

Erbert and Gerbert

2338 N. Farwell Ave.

The best thing about this sandwich and soup shop is the food. The French bread is fresh and tasty, the veggies crisp, the meats plentiful, the sauces well seasoned and the soup thick and hearty. In a mini-mall just north of east North Avenue and open after hours on weekends, you can carry out or grab a table. On the walls you’ll find original fairy tales with charming illustrations by the franchise’s Eau Claire founder that explain the whimsical names of his delectable concoctions. (J.S.) $. CC. OD. NA. Handicap access. 273-3727

 

Georgie Porgie’s

9555 S. Howell Ave., 571-9889         

5502 Washington Ave., Mount Pleasant, 262-635-5030

Named after the English nursery rhyme, Georgie Porgie’s is a kid friendly place with a tree house theme (there’s a large tree in the middle of the dining room). Georgie’s serves frozen yogurt, custard and gyros along with Italian beef, BBQ pork and salads. They have unique and hearty sundaes and burgers, including Sundae’s of the Month (grasshopper, anyone?) and Burgers of the Month. (D.S.) $. CC. OD. Handicap access.

 

Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop

1344 E. Brady St., 272-3333

1532 W. Wells St., 344-1234

3129 N. Oakland Ave., 967-9014

767 N. Water St., 227-1166

Conceived as a healthier fast food choice for college students, the meats, provolone and basic veggies are sliced onsite and taste fresh. Served on homemade French or thick-sliced seven-grain bread—or lettuce as a low-carb alternative—the subs are built, wrapped and tossed to the cashier in seconds. Soda, chips, kosher dills, hot peppers and cookies are available. Window and sidewalk seating are good for people watching. The shop is popular with patrons of area nightclubs after hours. (J.S.) $. NA. CC. OD at select locations. LT.

 

John’s Sandwich Shop

8913 W. North Ave.

The longtime fixture in Wauwatosa reinvented itself a few years ago with a new interior and a healthier menu. Did you know that yogurt helps prevent hypertension or that olives are an anti-inflammatory? Such are the captions on the menu, an offering with a slight Mediterranean accent. Among the delights are a Caprese burger, a Greek omelet and pomegranate pancakes. (D.L.) $. Cash Only. OD. 257-9347

 

Melthouse Bistro

1857 E. Kenilworth Place

The menu is built around cheese made in Wisconsin, from the expected cheddar to the unanticipated feta. Little wonder that among the 20 hearty sandwiches served on thick toast is a selection called the Cheesehead. Try the tasty tomato bisque (or the cheese and beer soup). And no surprise: you can order extra cheese on anything for a small surcharge. (D.L.) $. NA. 271-6358

 

Philly Way

405 S. Second St., 273-2355

1330 E. Brady St., 763-8875

The Philly Way prides itself on the authenticity of its Philadelphia cheese steak, serving it with shaved ribeye and onions cooked on the grill. There is a choice of cheese, but purists will want the Cheez Whiz for a big gooey mess. Optional ingredients include peppers and mushrooms. The tiny place is so authentic that it was declared the best cheese steak joint outside Philly by none other than Philadelphia Magazine. (J.B.) $. CC. OD. NA.

 

Potbelly Sandwich Shop

135 W. Wisconsin Ave., 226-0014

5725 N. Bayshore Drive, 963-9032

17800 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield, 262-796-9845

12455 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield, 262-781-3150

Potbelly is a nationwide submarine sandwich chain, specializing in warm, thin-cut sandwiches. Customers can choose between regular or multigrain bread, and the buns are toasted during their efficient sandwich-making process. The fresh toppings include oil, seasonings, vegetables, different cheeses, salami, roast beef and chicken breast. The chain also carries salads, soups, chili, sides, shakes, malts,and smoothies. (D.S.) $. CC. OD. Handicap access.

 

Sammy’s Taste of Chicago

1234 S. 108th St., 774-0466

1225 Robruck Drive, Oconomowoc, 262-567-1245

Like a little politics with your comfort food? Yes, Sammy’s Taste of Chicago may have some anti-Democratic propaganda on its walls, but it’s all in good fun, and it doesn’t scare any left-wingers away. People of all affiliations come for the Chicago dogs, fast food and low prices. Some features are Philly steak, onion rings, Italian beef, corn dogs, fries, cheese curds, burgers, mozzarella sticks, shakes, malts, and root beer floats. It’s definitely kid friendly. Don’t drive to Chicago. You can get your dog fix, here. (D.S.) $. CC. OD.

 

Suburpia

116 E. Layton Ave., 727-8300

2264 N. Prospect Ave., 271-6300

612 N. Water St., 287-2000

Suburpia introduced the submarine sandwich to many Milwaukeeans in the early ’70s—a time when their menu was a good cure for the munchies and their clever radio ads were sung by the still-unknown John Belushi. Suburpia still offers the Davey Jones (tuna), Reuben James (corned beef), Gold Coast (ham) and Miles Standish (turkey). Served on sub-shaped buns loaded with cheese, mayo and chopped salad in a tangy dressing, the subs are so heavilly laden that the filling tends to slide out of the buns. (D.L.) $. CC. NA.

 

THAI

 

Bangkok House

4698 S. Whitnall Ave.

This is the spot for Thai purists. Flavors are less spicy, a bit sweeter and oh so right. The squid in the spicy salad is cooked to perfection and the shrimp curry has a sauce made in the house. The beef-with-been-sprouts soup is superbly seasoned. It’s tops for Thai in the area. (J.B.) $$. CC. RS. LB. Handicap access. 482-9838

 

EE-Sane

1806 N. Farwell Ave.

The main menu is an extensive list of Thai items, with noteworthy options such as the fresh spring rolls and curries with more character than usual. But the more interesting menu focuses on Lao specialties. There are green papaya salads (not vegetarian) and meat salads with names such as larb, namtok and koi beef. Dishes are spiced on a scale of 1 to 10. Few dare to venture above 7. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. RS. Handicap access. 224-8284

 

Elephant Café

1505 N. Farwell Ave.

Owned by the same family behind EE-Sane, a few blocks to the north, the café’s setting is far more modern with a cozy bar and an elephant-themed décor. The menu is smaller than EE-Sane’s but still offers several dozen options. The usual curries and spicy salads are offered here plus Thai soups and noodle dishes. Vietnamese pho is also available, big bowls of noodle soup. Other items not on the EE-Sane menu include crying tiger, a spicy beefsteak salad, and grilled lemongrass pork chops. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FB. RS. 220-9322

 

Jow Nai Fouquet

1978 N. Farwell Ave.

It might be the tiniest Thai restaurant in town, but size isn’t everything. This cozy place pays attention to the small details. Fresh Thai herbs are used fsreely, whether in lemongrass soup or steamed mussels. The curry pastes are gentle but exactly what a Thai curry should be. Friday offers a selection of Thai fish dishes. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. FF. FB. Handicap access. 270-1010

 

King & I

830 N. Old World Third St.

One of the first Milwaukee Thai restaurants, The King & I remains a good deal more upscale and a touch more expensive than the more casual-minded Thai eateries that have joined its company. The chic, open layout leaves the kitchen visible from the dining room. The 65-item menu includes most Thai staples, including noodle dishes and curries, as well as some interesting entrées, like a yellow curry and mango chicken dish prepared with bell peppers and cherry tomatoes. The default flavor of most dishes is mild, making this restaurant a good starter for diners new to Thai cuisine. A weekday lunch buffet draws a large crowd. (E.R.) $$$. CC. RS. FB. LB. 276-4181

 

Mai Thai

1230 E. Brady St.

Mai Thai seems ripe for discovery by a new generation of Thai food lovers. The young owners have made a comfortably interesting place for casual and dress-up dining. The bar and restaurant are good settings for conversation, romance, meetings or hanging with friends. The atmosphere is easy, the staff helpful and charming, the food and drink delicious and the price right. All recipes are the chef's, a native of northern Thailand where people like it hot. Select your degree of spiciness on a scale from 0-4. (J.S.) $$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 810-3386

 

Singha Thai

2237 S. 108th St.

Tables are covered in rich, royal purple linens; entrées are served on blue-and-white hand-painted plates. Singha is the only Thai restaurant in the city that serves hou mok pla: fish filets layered over a bed of Thai basil leaves and cabbage, wrapped and steamed in a fragrant coconut milk curry with undertones of hot pepper. It’s quite unlike anything else on this extensive menu. (J.B.) $$$. CC. RS. Handicap access. 541-1234

 

Thai Kitchen

2851 N. Oakland Ave.

This small restaurant has an extensive menu of Thai standards. Opt for tod mun, an exquisite appetizer of fish cakes. Tom yum goong is a fine example of this spicy/sour shrimp soup and the som tum (spicy papaya salad) is a textbook example. The prices are moderate appeals to the students and faculty of nearby UW-Milwaukee. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. Handicap access. 962-8851

 

Thai Bar-B-Que

3417 W. National Ave.

A photo-intensive menu makes ordering easy at Thai Bar-B-Que, a clean and cozy dining room nestled near several other Asian restaurants on National Avenue. Curry dishes are exceptional here. The traditional red and green curries, served with choice of meat or tofu, are loaded with fresh, colorful vegetables and the aroma of fresh herbs. For something more exotic, try the Kang Phed Ped Yang: roasted duck, eggplant, tomatoes and pineapple in a spicy red curry sauce. Service is attentive and refreshingly unrushed, with a loquacious wait staff that chats at length with regulars and newcomers alike. (E.R.) $$. CC. RS. 647-0812

 

Thai Lotus

3800 W. National Ave.

The menu at Thai Lotus looks beyond Thailand to include Chinese and Vietnamese specialties like pho, steak kow and egg foo young. The Thai dishes, some of which can be sampled during a lunch buffet, tend to be spicier than their counterparts at Thai restaurants closer to Downtown. Seafood dishes are a specialty here, with options including curry catfish (lightly fried and served with eggplant and peppers in a ginger-curry sauce), fried squid, shrimp in the shell and scallops. There is also a large selection of bubble teas and smoothies. (E.R). $$. CC. RS. 431-8489

 

Thai-namite

932 E. Brady St.

Thailand and Japan meet in this hybrid menu. The Japanese items are mainly sushi and sashimi, while the Thai are a bit of everything. The place is small and the setting contemporary and casual. The Thai food is not too spicy but a bit sweet. The fish cakes and tom yum soup are sure bets. There even is a Brady Street Roll made with spicy tuna and tempura crumbs. The beverage selection is limited but there is beer, wine and sake. (J.B.) $$. CC. OD. RS. Handicap access. 837-6280

 

TURKISH

 

Tulip

360 E. Erie St.

The fare includes many kebabs of beef, lamb and chicken. Manti are tiny homemade beef-filled ravioli in a yogurt sauce. Vegetarians will be pleased with the appetizers and salads, including some excellent stuffed grape leaves. The décor has the Third Ward loft look with amenities like a fireplace and tasteful displays of Turkish ceramic tiles. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. GF. OD. Handicap access. 273-5252

 

VEGETARIAN

 

Beans & Barley

1901 E. North Ave.

OK, they are not strictly vegetarian, serving chicken and fish, too. But Beans & Barley has long been Milwaukee’s stalwart for alternative dining and a great place to people watch. The dining room is a striking example of contemporary design. On the way out, stop at the organic deli and grocery. (D.L.) $-$$. CC. OD. Handicap access. 278-7878

 

Bombay Sweets

3401 S. 13th St.

The setting is spare with white Formica tables and plastic forks and cutlery. But this all-vegetarian East Indian menu is filled with rare and unusual delights. Lemon rice, pakoras, pooris, utappam and malai kofta are all recommended. Also look for coconut raita and chutney. And there is a bakery counter filled with an array of Indian sweets and snacks. (J.B.) $. CC. OD. NA. 383-3553

 

Café Manna

3815 N. Brookfield Road (Sendik’s Towne Centre)

The menu it totally vegetarian with raw, gluten-free and vegan options. The produce is organic and sustainable, as are the wines. The menu is seasonally updated but the Café Manna burger is always available. It’s a lentil patty with Jamaican-influenced seasoning. Soups are pleasant, from lentil to a refreshing watermelon gazpacho. (J.B.) $$. CC. OD. RS. GF. 262-790-2340

 

Outpost Natural Foods

100 E. Capitol Drive, 961-2597

7000 W. State St., 778-2012

2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 755-3202

945 N. 12th St. (inside Aurora Sinai Hospital), 220-9166

Milwaukee’s long-running natural foods co-op (they helped introduce the city to the concept of healthy eating!) has deli and table arrangements at all locations. (D.L.) $. CC. Handicap access.

 

Riverwest Co-op Café

733 E. Clarke St.

The cozy co-op includes a grocery stocked with vegetarian and vegan friendly foods; organic, locally grown produce; vegan baked goods and other natural items. On the café side, enjoy made-to-order sandwiches, soups, smoothies, brunches, lunches and dinners. Anything can be cooked vegan, with deliciously prepared seitan, tofu, and vegan cheeses. Make sure to take advantage of theme days, such as Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday. (D.S.) $. CC. OD. NA. 264-7933

 

VIETNAMESE

 

Hue

2691 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

The décor at Hue is simply elegant from the small bar to the dining room. Start with an appetizer sampler complete with fried shrimp and small skewers of grilled beef. Banh xeo is a crepe filled with more bean sprouts than meat. The pho is prepared with a fine beef stock and the slices of brisket are tender and flavorful. Prices are higher than at other local Vietnamese spots but the setting and service more than compensate. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. 294-0483

 

Phan’s Garden

1923 W. National Ave.

The menu has a split personality—half Chinese and half Vietnamese. The Vietnamese is the reason to visit. Many customers can be seen eating bowls of noodles with broth. Pho dac biet is a typical version with beef and rice noodles. The Vietnamese offerings are many with fine egg rolls, steamed rolls with pork, papaya salad and curries with lemongrass. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. 384-4522

 

Pho Hai Tuyet

204 W. Layton Ave., Town of Lake

Look for the house specialty, pho, a large bowl of Vietnamese rice noodle soup and a meal in itself. There are 25 versions, mostly prepared with beef, chicken or seafood. Customize this with assorted fresh vegetables, herbs and various condiments. Other options include excellent Vietnamese egg rolls, green papaya salad and some very tasty grilled pork chops.  (J.B.) $. CC. Handicap access. 282-8041

 

West Bank Cafe

732 E. Burleigh St.

West Bank remains the best place for Vietnamese food. Try steamed mussels with cream sauce, steamed fresh rolls and the great fantail shrimp for appetizers. Chicken lemongrass is a Vietnamese classic. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. RS. Handicap access. 562-5555