Milwaukee Magazine - - Din­ing -


Our town’s newer meat-free op­tions have not kicked main­stream Beans &

Bar­ley (1901 E. North Ave.,

beansand­bar­ley.com) out of its dom­i­nant spot here, fol­lowed, as in 2016, by Brook­field’s Café Manna, which takes a se­ri­ous ap­proach to ve­gan and raw cuisines (3815 N. Brook­field

Rd., cafe­manna.com). The

third-place fin­isher is the sur­prise here, Beer­line

Cafe (2076 N. Com­merce

St., beer­linecafe.com),

whose breezy, liv­ing-walled space and crepes and cromelettes ousted Ur­ban Beets from its 2016 po­si­tion. Lest the top three get com­pla­cent, Ur­ban Beets is de­but­ing a sec­ond din­ing room and ex­panded menu of hot items this sum­mer, so ex­pect it to be a con­tender in 2018.


We love it when restau­rants of­fer con­sis­tency, and that’s what this cat­e­gory brings, as this year’s win­ners ap­pear in the same or­der as last year: Har­bor House, known for lob­ster rolls, an en­tic­ing raw bar and buf­fet brunch (550 N. Har­bor Dr.,

har­bor­housemke.com); St.

Paul Fish Com­pany (Mil­wau­kee Pub­lic Mar­ket, 400

N. Wa­ter St., stpaulfish.

com), a busy spot for mus­sels, king crab and Fri­day fish fries; and Maxie’s (6732

W. Fairview Ave., max­ies.

com), where spe­cial­ties in­clude pecan-crusted trout; shrimp and grits; and the oys­ter bar.


The red-meat game is solidly held by this trio, a re­peat of our 2016 win­ners – Five O’Clock Steak­house (2416 W. State St., fiveo­clock­steak­house. com), Carnevor (718 N.

Mil­wau­kee St., carnevor.

com) and Ed­die Martini’s (8612 W. Water­town Plank Rd., ed­diemar­ti­nis.com).


This year, Joey Ger­ard’s

(5601 Broad St., Green­dale,

joeyger­ards.com) and the Shorecrest Ho­tel’s Sup­per (1962 N. Prospect Ave.,

sup­per.restau­rant) moved up the ranks to Nos. 1 and 2, re­spec­tively, push­ing last year’s No. 1 – Jack­son

Grill (3736 W. Mitchell

St., the­jack­songrill.com)

– to third place. What’s in­ter­est­ing here is that par­ent com­pany Bar­tolotta Restau­rants is con­vert­ing the Me­quon Joey Ger­ard’s to a Mr. B’s Steak­house, which brings the num­ber of Joey Ger­ard’s down to one. Sup­per has upped its menu game since open­ing in 2016, adding nightly spe­cials like fresh pasta and fried chicken, a house-ground beef burger and lots of sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents that make it the most mod­ern “sup­per club” in the area.


Our read­ers will drive for food! And 75 miles from our fair Down­town to Madi­son’s na­tion­ally known, farm-driven L’Etoile, run by James Beard

Award-win­ning chef Tory Miller, is no big thing (1 S. Pinck­ney St., Madi­son, letoile-restau­rant.com). Fol­low­ing L’Etoile is dy­namic

Trat­to­ria Ste­fano (522 S. Eighth St., She­boy­gan, trat­to­ri­aste­fano.com), with its palate-blow­ing trip through Italy, and Port Wash­ing­ton’s

Twisted Wil­low (308 N.

Franklin St., twist­ed­wil­lowrestau­rant.com), which fuses a farmer’s mar­ket ethos with com­fort food.


Pizza Man may have ex­tended its au­di­ence reach to Oak Creek since our last sur­vey, but this year, it ceded No. 1 to the East Side’s

Balzac Wine Bar (1716 N.

Ar­ling­ton Pl., balza­cwinebar.com), whose vino list com­bines pours from Cal­i­for­nia, Italy, France, Spain and New Zealand. Pizza

Man took the sil­ver for its 30 by-the-glass op­tions

(three lo­ca­tions, piz­za­manwi.com). And Thief Wine

Shop & Bar came out of the ether to take the bronze

(Mil­wau­kee Pub­lic Mar­ket, 400 N. Wa­ter St., 4512 N. Oak­land Ave., thiefwine.

com), for up to 35 choices (em­pha­sis on lesser-known vine­yards) of­fered by the glass, taste and flight.


Cafe Hol­lan­der nailed it again, and it’s the lo­cal chain’s dom­i­nance with Bel­gian-style beers, steady thread of beer din­ners, beers of the month or other pro­mos that send ci­ti­zens into beer frenzy (mul­ti­ple

lo­ca­tions, cafe­hol­lan­der.

com). At No. 2, Good­kind

(2457 S. Went­worth Ave.,


stepped into a cat­e­gory it had never been in be­fore. The tap line of 20 beers is well-cu­rated (Surly, Black Husky, Founders) and de­signed to pair well with food. Reli­able Stubby’s Gas­tro­grub & Beer Bar

took third (2060 N. Hum­boldt Ave., stub­byspuband­grub.com). A bar with 53 ro­tat­ing taps, a re­serve cel­lar list and Stub Club that re­wards its mem­bers for be­ing di­verse drinkers de­serves a spot on this list!


Lo­cal chefs and se­ri­ous bar folk pooled their tal­ents to cre­ate Good­kind


which fea­tures an in­ven­tive, sea­son­ally up­dated list of cock­tails, its mixed-drink pro­gram led by the tal­ented Katie Rose. In sec­ond and third places are Odd Duck


whose sea­sonal and sta­ple cock­tails get num­bers in­stead of ti­tles (like #46: citrus vodka, gin, mint, snap peas and fresh lime) – and

Elsa’s on the Park (833 N.

Jef­fer­son St., el­sas.com),

where a Cosmo and Man­hat­tan are ex­actly what you should be drink­ing.


Not­with­stand­ing the craft beer re­nais­sance we’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, read­ers dubbed 30-year-old Lake­front

Brew­ery the mi­cro-king

(1872 N. Com­merce St.,


with the tod­dler-age Good City Brew­ing Com­pany

(2108 N. Far­well Ave., good­c­i­ty­brew­ing.com) – whose strong sum­mer in­cluded the open­ing of its rooftop pa­tio – in the No. 2 po­si­tion, fol­lowed by 20-year-old

Mil­wau­kee Brew­ing Co.

(613 S. Sec­ond St., mke­brew­ing.com), whose fu­ture looks very bright. The Walker’s Point-based brew­ery is sched­uled in 2018 to open a 46,000-square-foot brew­ery and tast­ing room

“The mo­ment you walk into” the

5 O’Clock

Club, named tops for steaks, “you

feel like you’re in an old-school Wis­con­sin sup­per club with a touch of speakeasy.

I al­most im­me­di­ately crave an old fash­ioned.”

– Chris­tine Garner

on the blos­som­ing Pabst Brew­ery’s 21-acre site.


Lake­front Brew­ery’s

(lake­front­brew­ery.com) first claim to fame earned it the No. 1 spot for Lo­cal Mi­cro-brew­ery. Its sec­ond is the Fri­day fry, which also takes top hon­ors with a cou­ple of fish va­ri­eties, in­clud­ing cod wrapped in East­side Dark beer bat­ter. Also on the leader board are Nos. 2 and 3, St. Paul Fish

Com­pany (400 N. Wa­ter

St., stpaulfish.com), which does a $12.95 lake perch fry on Fri­days, and Amer­i­can Serb Me­mo­rial Hall (5101

W. Ok­la­homa Ave., serb­hall.com) has been do­ing its shtick of cod, shrimp and ocean perch for over 50 years, with a con­ve­nient drive-through win­dow, too.


Gypsy Taco, which makes its per­ma­nent home on the Boone & Crock­ett pa­tio

(2151 S. Kin­nick­in­nic Ave.,


knocked the dairy-lov­ing

Gouda Girls – last year’s win­ner – into sec­ond place

(gouda­girls.com). And mak­ing its first ap­pear­ance is Meat on the Street, a pur­veyor of Fil­ipino street foods. This fam­ily-run busi­ness also of­fers its rice bowls, lumpia rolls and meats-on-a-stick on the old Pabst brew­ing grounds (1125

N. Ninth St., meaton­thestreetmke.com).


The sand­wich trum­pet play­ers are sound­ing for Glo­rioso’s Ital­ian Mar­ket (1011 E. Brady St.,

glo­riosos.com), which also held this ti­tle tightly last year (those meat­ball sand­wiches on Ital­ian rolls are out of sight!); Bavette

La Boucherie (330 E. Menomonee St., bavet­temil­wau­kee.com), which serves a chang­ing menu of sand­wiches like a house­made kim­chi sausage banh mi; and Jake’s Deli (1634 W. North Ave., Grand Av­enue Mall, jakes­de­limke.

com), whose his­tory un­der the name dates to 1955. Jake’s took down last year’s No. 3, Benji’s Deli, which poses stiff corned beef com­pe­ti­tion.


This is a cat­e­gory that shows lit­tle change from year to year, with dom­i­nant

Colec­tivo (13 lo­ca­tions in the Mil­wau­kee area alone;

colec­tivo­cof­fee.com), with An­o­dyne and Stone Creek duk­ing it out for sec­ond. For the last two years, it’s been An­o­dyne (four lo­ca­tions; an­o­dynecof­fee.com)

in the mid­dle, with Stone

Creek strid­ing in for third

(12 lo­ca­tions, stonecreek­cof­fee.com). What’s in­ter­est­ing is that in the last year, both Colec­tivo and Stone Creek have opened lo­ca­tions in Madi­son and Chicago. And with the Naples-style wood-burn­ing oven in­stalled in the Bay View cafe, An­o­dyne has proved that it is a force in our pizza scene.

Clearly $1 oys­ters and dol­lar-off beer, wine and cock­tails are enough to keep Maxie’s (6732 W. Fairview Ave., max­ies.com)

in first po­si­tion. The demise of Bosley on Brady – which had killer, great-deal HH ap­pe­tizer spe­cials – opened the door to some in­ter­est­ing changes to po­si­tions 2 and 3. Swingin’ Door Ex­change (219 E. Michi­gan

St., swingin­doorex­change.

com) moved up from third place last year, and new­bie to the list Ho­tel Madrid

(600 S. Sixth St., hotel­madridmke.com) showed its met­tle against a lot of com­pe­ti­tion, but the Madrid bar’s Sun­day (all) night happy hour is the fru­gal diner’s dream – half off the bar-food and drink menus.


It’s not ev­ery restau­rant that wants to be known as a cheap date, but all three of these win­ners have owned this cat­e­gory for the last few years (be­cause they make a ca­reer out of be­ing, well, af­ford­able), and in this or­der, too: Cone­jito’s

Place, where a Mex­i­can plate lunch is $4.50 (539 W.

Vir­ginia St., cone­ji­tos-place.

com); Swingin’ Door Ex­change, the 12-buck meat­loaf plate be­ing one ex­am­ple (219 E. Michi­gan St.,


and River­west’s Nes­sun

Dorma, and its $10 pasta spe­cials (2778 N.

Weil St., nes­sun­dor­mariver­west.com). Ev­ery top-scor­ing restau­rant here un­der­stands that a great week­day break­fast is a combo of stel­lar food de­liv­ered ex­pe­di­tiously (be­cause the clock­ing-in time at work looms for many of us) and com­pe­tent ser­vice. Our win­ners seem to have it all: Blue’s Egg, where mon­key bread and stuffed browns are close to heaven

(317 N. 76th St., blue­segg.

com); En­gine Com­pany

No. 3, whether do­ing maple honey French toast or Colom­bian pat­a­con con huevo (217 W. Na­tional Ave.,

en­ginecom­pany3.com); and Mad Rooster Cafe, which has made home­made Greek yo­gurt into an in­cred­i­ble morn­ing “dessert” (4401 W.

Green­field Ave., madroost­er­cafe.com).


While sis­ter restau­rant Blue’s Egg dom­i­nates in the week­day cat­e­gory,

Story Hill BKC (5100 W. Blue­mound Rd., sto­ry­hill­bkc.com) has its hands on the top week­end prize. Might be the combo of Turk­ish shak­shouka and crepe mon­sieur. Bay View’s Honeypie

Cafe (2643 S. Kin­nick­in­nic

Ave., hon­ey­p­iecafe.com)

“Lake­front Brew­ery [No. 1-voted Lo­cal Mi­cro­brew­ery] is my go-to beer when­ever I am out. Their clas­sic fry [also voted No. 1] is just a nice piece of fish with a great bat­ter

made with, of course, their beer.”

— Michael Tobin

took sec­ond with an ex­tra or­der of brioche French toast and bis­cuits and sausage gravy; while Comet

Cafe (1947 N. Far­well Ave.,

the­comet­cafe.com) scored third, leav­ing no crumbs from its chicken in a bis­cuit, with hash browns. A round of bloody marys for all!


In the Mil Mag of­fice, vir­tu­ally ev­ery­one has a dif­fer­ent idea of what makes a great burger. But No. 1 in our reader sur­vey is the clas­sic, burger-as-wide-as-your­head Kopp’s (three lo­ca­tions, kopps.com) – which bumped So­bel­man’s from nu­mero uno sta­tus in 2016 to third place (mul­ti­ple

lo­ca­tions, so­bel­manspuband­grill.com). No. 2 is

Os­car’s on Pierce (1712 W.

Pierce St., os­car­son­pierce.

com), whose seven styles of burger all fea­ture a juicy, jaw-strain­ing patty.


Pizza Man may have given up No. 1 in the by-the-glass Wine List cat­e­gory this year. But it used brute thin­crust force to move from last year’s sec­ond place for top pizza (three lo­ca­tions,

piz­za­manwi.com). Our un­ex­pected No. 2 is Trans­fer

Pizze­ria Café (101 W.

Mitchell St., trans­fermke.

com), whose pies are chewy, medium-thick and known for gar­lic-cream cheese (and tomato-based) sauce. Fi­nally, “cracker-thin” is the ral­ly­ing cry, as Zaf­firo’s

(1724 N. Far­well Ave., zaf­firospizza.com) brought 63 years of pep­per­oni spe­cials to third place.


Hot news! The Soup

Mar­ket took its African peanut and chicken soup all the way to first place (mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions,

soup­mar­ket.com). Car­ry­ing the gi­ant slice – make that, chunk – of bread (for sop­ping) as a baton, Soup

Bros. (212 W. Florida St.)

came in sec­ond. And the long-run­ning Benji’s Deli (4156 N. Oak­land Ave., 8683 N. Port Wash­ing­ton Rd., ben­jis­delian­drestau­rant.

com), home of borscht and chicken matzo ball, scored a re­spectable third. ◆

“I love the con­sis­tency of the crust at Trans­fer

[which came in No. 2 for Pizza] – thin, chewy and a bit crispy. My fa­vorite

combo is sausage and green olives.”

– Sun Torke

Bavette’s banh mi and other cre­ations car­ried them to No. 2 for Best Sand­wich.

A meal at Good­kind: No. 1 for Restau­rants With Great Cock­tails and No. 2 for Beer Se­lec­tion

Pizza Man dom­i­nated in the pie cat­e­gory.

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