Milwaukee’s foodie faves, from casual to fine and early to late.


New Restaurant

Uncle Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern

Since its opening in late 2018, this nest for daytime dining inside an immaculately restored old Cream City building in Brewers Hill has been a magnet, particularly for weekend brunchers. Understandably so, since Wolfie’s slam-dunks it with cool digs, good grub, cocktails and high-octane Anodyne coffee.

234 E. Vine St.; unclewolfies.com

 


Quick Lunch

Milwaukee Public Market

The Third Ward market offers so much in one place, perfect when you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for – enchiladas or an acai bowl, Thai curry or fried oysters, panini or chili and lots more. There’s also free one-hour parking in the adjacent lot, which helps make a visit a quick in-and-out.

400 N. Water St.; milwaukeepublicmarket.org


Business Lunch & Splurge

Harbor House

The low-decibel, white-tablecloth dining room of this Bartolotta-run, New England-inspired seafood house is where some of the city’s most pressing business is done, against the backdrop of Lake Michigan waves. Our readers also named Harbor House their pick for Best Splurge. The market- price whole Maine lobster and $250 tin of Russe Osetra caviar definitely qualify as such.

550 N. Harbor Dr.; bartolottas.com/harbor-house


Pub Food / Gastropub

Café Hollander

Lowlands Group’s mastery of ambiance is 100% illustrated by the Hollanders, which have airy, light-filled interiors comfortable for lingering, crowd-enticing outdoor spaces, large Belgian craft beer lists and pub food  menus (mussels and frites, burgers, brunch all day) that appeal to the hoi polloi. That’s magic.

Multiple locations; cafehollander.com


Bakery

Peter Sciortino Bakery

Sound the collective oohs and aahs for cream-filled cannoli, tiramisu and fresh breads and rolls (the rolls are classic, tender-but-mighty support for the sauciest Italian sausage), the baking aroma from which filters down Brady Street in the morning.

1101 E. Brady St.; petersciortinosbakery.com


Dessert

Le Rêve Patisserie & Cafe

Ogling the dessert case is part of the dining experience at this enchanting French bistro, where it’s virtually impossible to choose poorly. The chocolate-caramel tart, Paris-Brest (a wheel-shaped ring of choux pastry), citron tart and opera torte are just a few of the tantalizing tours de force.

7610 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa; lerevecafe.com


Late-Night Eats

Oakland Gyros

A stop at OGs is a staple of any late night on the East Side. Warm and friendly scents of succulent lamb waft around the cozy, brightly colored, shacklike counter space, and a visitor will usually need to wait in a bustling line before a smiling face takes your order. The food arrives so quickly, there’s barely time to question the small picture of a famous Oakland Gyros fan, Ludacris, among the numerous award plaques on a wall. Grab a booth across from the older couple decked out in Harley gear and adjacent the group of tipsy college students, and dig in. The gyro sandwiches, hefty and delicious, are a hunger killer to any midnight appetite. — John Quinnies

2867 N. Oakland Ave.; 530 W. Layton Ave.

Photos courtesy of: Chris Kessler; Visit Milwaukee; Lowlands Group; Olivia Medrow, Oakland Gyros

We Beg To Differ

Steakhouse

Reader’s Pick
Five O’Clock Steakhouse

Old fashioneds, large cuts of charred beef suffused in a trademark basting sauce, a setting where the clock seems to have stopped in 1968 – so many reasons our readers dig this joint.

Ann Christenson’s Pick
Carnevor

Bottom line, these are primo-quality (wallet-emptying) steaks, with wet-aged and reserve-cut options simply cooked; toppings and sauces are optional. Over-the-top high-end and worth it.

Barbecue

Reader’s Pick
Smoke Shack

This local spot takes the dry-rub, slowsmoke approach, offering five regional sauces on the side. It also does a lot of things: baby-back and spare ribs, brisket, chicken, pulled pork, hot links and lots of sides.

Ann Christenson’s Pick
Heaven’s Table
Owner-pitmaster Jason Alston grew up watching his elders smoke meat. Learning from them, he’s perfected his brisket, ribs and pork shoulder by slow-smoking them in hickory. This is indeed heaven.
Photo courtesy of Smoke Shack

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Tacos

Reader’s Pick
BelAir Cantina

Locals vibe on the well-executed Cali surfer decor, plus tacos of all kinds (fried avocado and bacon, “gringo” ground beef, tempura-fried grasshoppers – yep!), not to mention the possibility of seeing reported fan Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Ann Christenson’s Pick
Chilango Express

An authentic little mom-and-pop enterprise where they make the corn tortillas from scratch, the pastor (pork) is tender and so good, and they have a great roast lamb special on the weekends. Tamales on the weekend, too!

Sandwich Shop

Reader’s Pick
Glorioso’s Italian Market

The many flavorful choices here are undeniably good, from the Milwaukee Muffalatta (three kinds of meat) to the Human Torch, which has – bada boom – hot pepper spread and hot pepper-olive relish. Plus, the selection of dried pastas is remarkable.

Photo by Mia Sienko

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Ann Christenson’s Pick
Boo Boo’s

Crusty, tender bread makes these sandwiches soar. (It’s similar to the bread served at sister and Walker’s Point neighbor Soup Brothers). I love fun, delicious flavor combos like the Happy Pappy with pork loin, sweet peppers and spicy mango sauce.


Editor’s Pick

Burger

Oscar’s Pub & Grill

Owner Oscar Castenada’s burgers have a touch of familiarity – the juicy, thick beef patty and a tender but robust bun with a glossy top dome. Before opening his own place in 2011, Castenada worked at Sobelman’s, leaving with seriously sharpened burger-making skills. The half-pound burgers he serves these days are consistently excellent.

1712 W. Pierce St.; oscarsonpierce.com


 

Readers’ Choice Winners & Runners-up

Business Lunch

Harbor House
Mason Street Grill
Lake Park Bistro

Quick Lunch

Milwaukee Public Market
BelAir Cantina
Beans & Barley

Tacos

BelAir Cantina
Café Corazón
Botanas

Bakery

Peter Sciortino Bakery
Simma’s
Miss Molly’s

New Restaurant

Uncle Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern
Char’d
Don’s Diner

Dessert

Le Rêve
Lake Park Bistro
Odd Duck

Sandwich Shop

Glorioso’s Italian Market
Jake’s Deli
Comet Cafe

Splurge

Harbor House
Lake Park Bistro
Sanford

Barbecue

Smoke Shack
Saz’s
Speed Queen

Pub Food / Gastropub

Café Hollander
The Wicked Hop
The Rumpus Room

Steakhouse

Five O’Clock Steakhouse
Eddie Martini’s
Mr. B’s Steakhouse

Late-Night Eats

Oakland Gyros
Elsa’s On the Park
Ma Fischer’s

 


More Best of Milwaukee 2019

Here it is: The cream of Cream City. You chose the winners in dozens of categories, and we added a few that we couldn’t help but chime in on.


“Best of Milwaukee 2019” appears in the September 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning September 2, or buy a copy online.

Be the first to get every new issue. Subscribe.

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