Mader's Restaurant

Ask Ann: Milwaukee’s Oldest Restaurant

Got a dining question? Our critic answers it.

Read all of our Ask Ann questions.

Q: What is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Milwaukee?

A: A few years ago, I’d have mentioned a couple of places with impressively long histories – Watts Tea Shop (1901) and Karl Ratzsch (1904) – but both, sadly, have gone to the great white-tablecloth beyond. German dining has been around forever here, and the current title-holder of longest-tenured restaurant carries that mantle: Mader’s on Old World Third Street, run by the same family since 1902 and serving slow-cooked pork shanks with boots of Spaten beer.

A well-known runner-up outside the city limits is Jack Pandl’s Whitefish Bay Inn, which features its opening date of 1915 right on its sign. When John and Anna Pandl bought the property, it was surrounded by farmland and across the street from the old Pabst Whitefish Bay Resort.

Farther out, in the Waukesha County village of Nashotah, is the Red Circle Inn, which opened in 1848 as Nashotah Inn. Its current name is a nod to the logo of the brewery of Frederick Pabst, who purchased it in 1889.

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‘Ask Ann’ appears in the April 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.