Downtown Dining Week is in its sixth year, so for some Milwaukeeans, the event’s novelty may have worn off. But here at Milwaukee Magazine we don’t want you to make the mistake of thinking you’re “so over DDW” just because it isn’t all shinny and new.

With experience comes improvements, and Milwaukee Downtown, Bid #21 has worked hard to make this year just as enticing as those past, including extending invitations to nine new restaurants. So although you may think you have experienced all DDW has to offer, think again. Here’s a quick preview of this year’s new participants.

Blackthorn Pub & Grille, 750 N. Jefferson St.
This Irish pub mixes the old with the new. Offering the usual pub menu of mozzarella sticks, chicken wings and jalapeno poppers, Blackthorn also features lamb, potatoes and a very Irish-sounding Mrs. O’Malley’s stew. Stop in for their $10 lunch or $20 dinner during DDW to experience their Irish-esque cuisine.

Distil, 722 N. Milwaukee St.
This recent addition to Milwaukee’s dining scene has been impressing patrons with its pre-prohibition feel since its doors opened in September. An interior of exposed brick walls and dark wooden floors makes Distil a comfortable, classy place to sip a drink at its impressive 44-foot long bar. The menu features original cocktails, various cheeses and a tempting selection of aged meats. Check out Distil’s $20 DDW dinner menu.

Hinterland, 222 E. Erie St.
This self-proclaimed gastropub features a menu of mouth-watering contemporary American dishes. Although its DDW $30 dinner menu may be a splurge, it is a bargain compared to the meal’s $50 value. If you need further motivation to give this place a try, its meat and produce are locally sourced and all fish is delivered daily, so you know whatever you order will be served fresh.

Kiku, 202 W. Wisconsin Ave.
This Japanese bar and restaurant has an option for everyone. It serves both sushi and fully-cooked dinner items and even offers vegetarian and vegan dishes. Kiku won the 2010 Shepherd Express readers’ pick of best Milwaukee Japanese restaurant, so you know it must be doing something right. Take a look at its $10 lunch menu and $20 dinner menu for this year’s DDW.

Mo’s … A Place for Steaks, 720 N. Plankinton Ave.
Mo’s is a pricy steakhouse with a wide selection of soups, salads, steaks, fish and surf ‘n turf. There is much to choose from for meat- and fish-lovers alike, and its $30 DDW menu offers dishes to satisfy both tastes. Mo’s is the 2011 OpenTable.com diners’ choice winner – try it out this week and see if you agree.

 
Photo courtesy of Port of Call Bistro & Beer Garden.

Port of Call Bistro & Beer Garden, 106 W. Wells St.
This recently opened restaurant sits right on the Milwaukee River, so it is only fitting that its owners also run the Milwaukee River Cruise Line and Edelweiss Boats. Its location and outdoor dining space offers diners a lovely view of the river and downtown, and its extensive menu makes it the perfect option for any occasion. Bring the kids for lunch and a date for dinner, and try something different each time.

Ryan Braun’s Graffito, 102 N. Water St.
The Brewers’ star leftfielder Ryan Braun’s Third Ward restaurant has reopened as Graffito, featuring scratch Italian cooking from locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant’s new owners, SURG Restaurant Group, also run DDW participants Umami Moto, Carnevor and Charro. Graffito has garnered positive reviews so far – stop by for a $10 lunch or $20 dinner and get a taste for yourself.

Trinity Three Irish Pubs, 125 E Juneau St.
If you’re searching DDW options for a traditional Irish pub, you can find it right here. Trinity boasts traditional Irish soups, salads, sandwiches and stews. And, of course, don’t forget about the beer. The corned beef on rye on the $10 lunch menu sounds tempting, as does the grilled Irish whisky glazed salmon on the $20 dinner menu.

 
Photo courtesy of Zaafaran.

Zaafaran, 708 N. Jefferson St.
This restaurant fuses Thai and Indian cuisines to create a menu packed with spices and flavors. Zaafaran truly provides an adventure for your taste buds and is a great option for diners looking to try something outside of their comfort zone. This new restaurant’s contemporary design and classy presentation makes for a sophisticated and satisfying experience. Zaafaran is offering a $10 lunch menu and $20 dinner menu for DDW.

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