Indian chicken tikka biriyani

$25 and Under: Tips for Surviving the Twilight Zone of Late February

As time slows to a crawl, what is there to do?

February can be rough. December has the holidays. In January, you at least have the hope of a new year. But February, man.

$20 and Under

Keep warm with chicken biryani and Indian sweets

Cafe India mava jamun

One of the geniuses of Indian cooking is that its light, milky desserts are the perfect balance to the spicy main act. And like many cuisines, Indian cooking has a hearty, homey chicken and rice dish: chicken biryani. It’s made similar to how you would make Spanish rice, except there are additional spices and herbs involved, plus the chicken.

Sometimes biryani is really spicy, so it may be wise to request mild, wherever you get it. Lots of Indian restaurants serve it, but Cafe India does biryani especially well, and the Bay View location also offers lamb, shrimp and vegetable biryani ($10-$17). Anmol on Mitchell Street is another great spot, and they offer the chicken, shrimp, vegetable, mutton and fish varieties ($10-$15).

For sweets, Bombay Sweets on the South Side is definitive, but Cafe India also has a nice selection ($1 and up). Certainly order gulab jamun and derivatives, but don’t be afraid to try other nuggets.

$15 and Under

Hold a small, impromptu fighting game tournament

Primal Rage

There are now so many local arcades, with and without alcohol, that you don’t have to worry about monopolizing a Mortal Kombat or Primal Rage machine. Just pick two people to go first and line up challengers to fight the winner. For reference, watch The Lost Arcade documentary about the New York arcade that was once the hub of the city’s fighting game scene.

The Garcade in Menomonee Falls ($15 per day) has Primal Rage, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat 3 and 4, Marvel vs. Capcom, Virtua Fighter, Soul Caliber and Tekken 5, making it a strong choice, but there’s no alcohol if that’s important to group dynamics.

Up-Down Milwaukee has plenty of sauce and a handful of machines, including Street Fighter 2 Championship and Primal Rage, but it can be jammed during busy times ($.25 per token/game).

The more manageable 1983 Arcade Bar on Third Street has Mortal Kombat 4 and Street Fighter 2 ($.25 per token/game).

$12 and Under (per day)

See seven movies in seven days in seven area theaters

Milwaukee as a movie. (illustration by Cameron K. Lewis)

This may sound foolhardy, but starting on Monday, you can make it all the way to Sunday before having to hit a chain. That’s a mixture of the Oriental, Downer, Avalon, Times, Rosebud and Fox Bay, and if you squeeze in something at UWM, that’s actually seven (up to $12).

The Oriental is scheduled to show the big, long Gerhard Richter-inspired movie, Never Look Away, through the end of the month (plus others).


Volunteer for the Hunger Task Force

Once you get done eating your fill, help someone to get theirs. Food sorting is one of the easiest jobs to get into, and you can also help fill boxes of foodstuffs for seniors or lend a hand in the warehouse, if you don’t mind a little lifting.



Matt has written for Milwaukee Magazine since 2006, when he was a lowly intern. Since then, he’s held the posts of assistant news editor and, most recently, senior editor. He’s lived in South Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut, Iowa, and Indiana but mostly in Wisconsin. He wants to do more fishing but has a hard time finding worms. For the magazine, Matt has written about city government, schools, religion, coffee roasters and Congress.