Eating and Drinking in Milwaukee

Sure, you've heard of Milwaukee beer but Milwaukee is quite a food town. Here are some of the highlights. Enjoy!

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Food Zones and Restaurants

Want to discover your own places? Definitely visit Old World Third Street -- it just seemed to have so much delicious "stuff". Milwaukee's Brady Street, offers an architectural tapestry of styles, with most of the buildings constructed between 1860 and 1930. Equally historic is Historic Third Ward home to the wonderful Public Market, and other places to eat, shop, and enjoy. Another way to enjoy both Milwaukee restaurants and explore these areas is via Milwaukee Food Tours
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Cafe Benelux

For casual dining indoors and out, and most definitely and beer. Named after the Benelux region (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg), Cafe Benelux features regional favorites like mussels, pannenkoeken and, of course, frites, and a menu of beer that would keep you imbibing for months! If the weather allows, drink and dine on the rooftop patio with views of the Milwaukee Public Market and Historic Third Ward. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and after dinner drinks.

Colectivo Lakefront

Built in 1888, the historic Milwaukee River Flushing Station is now home to Colectivo Lakefront, (formerly known as Altera) a unique cafe/deli serving sandwiches, soups and salads, plus coffee and bakery items. You'll enjoy everything, but you'll really enjoy the pastries. And the setting is truly unusual, in a very good way.

Mader's German Restaurant

Mader's is not only a famous restaurant, and it also serves delicious German food. Sauerbraten, wiener schnitzel and pork abound. What to try? German Sampler or the Rhine Sampler. A bit of this and that and all delicious. And... finish it off with some apple strudel.

Dream Dance Steak (Located in Potawatomi Bingo Casino)

Although located in the casino, there is little hint of gaming once you pass through the doors into Dream Dance Steak. There's an ambitious menu with a diversity of items but their steaks are from Black Earth available with different sauces and rubs. If steak isn't your meat, there's several fish entrees as well as one vegetarian and a chicken dish. USDA facility with third-party certification for humane handling (Animal Welfare Approved) and are certified organic (Iowa Department of Agriculture).

Let's Go Drinking

Safe House

I spent a lot of time smiling as I walked through Safe House. It is totally unique and often over-the-top filled with spy-themed memorabilia and everything else under the sun. Different rooms have different themes, and the whole place is filled with little secrets that are fun to discover.

I don't think I've ever been in a place like this, and I know for certain I've have never drank in a bar like it. Room after room of intriguing stuff loosely based on the theme of Spies and Safe Houses. But there's so much more. There are walls that seem to have absolutely no relationship to spies and safe houses -- like a wall of signed movie posters. Then, the next section would be a definite spy themed exhibit, like a wall containing a historic (and presumably genuine) copy of career opportunities in the CIA. In one room I was truly mesmerized by the close-up magic of Chris Ivanovich who rightly calls himself as "impossibilist" -- and when you watch him perform his magic, you'll agree. Even standing a foot away I couldn't figure out how he did what he did.

Says Chris on his website:

The Safe House has run a magic bar for almost 30 years, and I have the honor of being the senior magician there. I perform there every Wednesday and Thursday.
And yes, there is a password. But if you don't know it, and really, what good is a pass word if I tell you. OTOH, since I didn't know the password when I arrived, instead I was asked to do a zombie dance. And, no, I have no idea why, only that I lurched around along with my friends until we had convinced the gatekeeper (a very attractive woman in 1940s attire working a fake switchboard) that we weren't spies.
Food and Milwaukee go together at

Lakefront Brewery Beer Tour

Perhaps the only brewery tour like it in the country, Lakefront Brewery, a locally owned micro-brewery, offers standup comedy with lots of beer. Our tour guide was Josh and he rocked (and rolled), but I'm told all the guides are inventively funny.

The premise is simple. Based on the belief that people go on beer tours to drink beer and have a good time. So, they start the tour off with a 6oz "tasting" and then pause halfway through for another one. I'm sure I learned stuff about beer, brewing, bungs and more, but I do have a very clear memory that we all had to sing the Laverne & Shirley theme song.

Each tour guide has their own comedy routine incorporating some facts and trivia about beer-brewing. What I do remember is the beer -- handmade in the Milwaukee tradition of the early brewers. Lakefront Brewery has been brewery beer since 1987 and they boast "sold exclusively to taverns within rolling distance."

The Yard at the Iron Horse Hotel

For outdoor drinking with twinkly lights and a sense of magic, enjoy the outdoor bar The Yard at the Iron Horse Hotel. The decor of the hotel is a mix of vintage and modern, and the drinks at the bar ranging from "everyone's favorites" to "try something different."

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Neala Schwartzberg McCarten

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author

Published: November 26th, 2013 Updated: August 7, 2016

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