HAPPY HOUR WEEKDAY BREAKFAST
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
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.,
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
– 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.
RESTAURANT WORTH A DRIVE
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.
BY-THE-GLASS WINE LIST
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
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!
RESTAURANTS WITH GREAT COCKTAILS
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
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.
(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
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
“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
A meal at Goodkind: No. 1 for Restaurants With Great Cocktails and No. 2 for Beer Selection
Bavette’s banh mi and other creations carried them to No. 2 for Best Sandwich.
Pizza Man dominated in the pie category.