Read more $25 and Under guides here.
As a lifelong vegetarian, before moving to Milwaukee I thought I would be destined to order a salad or a sad sandwich at most restaurants. But Cream City surprisingly offers a diverse array of delicious vegetarian cuisine at prices that are often modest compared to their meat-filled counterparts.
$20 and Under
Dine With the Irish
Location: County Clare Irish Inn & Pub (1234 N. Astor St.)
I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that County Clare can turn quite a few of its most delicious options vegetarian with meat substitutes — you just have to look for the circled “V” on the menu. Their Reuben is fantastic with homemade seitan instead of beef ($11.85) and their grilled chicken sandwich with a faux patty will make you feel like you’re eating meat again ($10.70).
Try Hearty Meals at Comet Café
Location: Comet Café (1947 N. Farwell Ave.)
Herbivores will eat like kings and queens at this east side joint, with filling options like the vegan Salisbury steak ($13) and vegan mac ($12) dominating the entrees portion of their menu. If you’re looking for something slightly heathier, you have to try Comet Cafe’s artichoke melt ($10), a cheesy veggie sandwich on a brioche bun.
Check Out a Vegetarian/Vegan-Specific Restaurant
For a city known for its cheese and sausages, Milwaukee sure has a lot of plant-based restaurants. Celesta, for example, offers hearty vegetarian-friendly classics like a southern plate that features housemade seitan drummies ($15) alongside healthy vegetable small plates like the roasted za’atar cauliflower ($9).
Nearby on the east side, Strange Town mainly serves small plates, like their scrumptious and healthy mojo de ajo potatoes with warm tahini sauce, salsa and chili oil ($9).
Out in Brookfield, Café Manna has won numerous awards for its vegetarian fare. We’d recommend their creamy coconut potato koram ($17) and peace bowl with black quinoa, numerous veggies and coconut curry on top ($18).
$10 and Under
Grab a Bowl
Locations: Bowls (207 W. Freshwater Way)
Located in the Third Ward, Bowls offers a variety of smoothie, pudding, grain and greens bowls, all at mostly affordable prices. For dinner, I love their spiced sweet potato & eggs bowls with potatoes and sriracha ($9) and Soba noodle bowl with pineapple and a variety of other fresh vegetables ($9).
Order a Melt
Most vegetarians are painfully aware of what it’s like to always have to order the veggie sandwich when all other options are meat-filled, but trust me, you’ll want to order melts from vegetarian-friendly local joints. We particularly recommend trying Urban Beets’ sweet potato melt ($9.25), On the Bus’s basil pesto melt ($8.75) and Beerline Café’s fromage panini ($6.75).
Feast on Breakfast Classics
Brewed Café, located in the heart of Brady, serves breakfast all day, including their Belgian-style waffle with bananas and powdered sugar ($8.25) and egg or tofu scrambler with fresh veggies ($9.50). Although they only serve breakfast before 11 a.m. on weekdays and 2 p.m. on weekends, the Riverwest Co-op offers breakfast classics with a vegetarian/vegan spin; you definitely can’t miss their “Word’s Greatest Vegan Pancakes” ($8).
Dine on International Cuisine
Although its food is more styled after L.A. than Mexico, BelAir Cantina serves flavorful and cheap tacos ($3-5 each), especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays when a few are bumped down to $2. North African Blue Star Café is more authentic to its home cuisine but also has a vegetarian bent. Their vegetarian sambusas ($1.5 each) especially blend authenticity and affordability.
$5 and Under
Take Vegetarian Chili to Go
Location: Beans & Barley (1901 E. North Ave.)
If you’re on the go and in need of a quick meal, stop into Beans & Barley and order the vegetarian chili from its carry out menu ($5 for a pint with a roll). This chili is made from scratch daily and is quite spicy.
Grab a Grilled Cheese
In a deal that seems too good to be true, Zaffiro’s offers a grilled cheese platter complete with a sandwich, fries and massive salad for only $4. The food truck Gouda Girls, which now has a permanent spot in the Eleven25 building, also serves affordable grilled cheese sandwiches, like The Triple, which has Gouda, Colby/Jack and Havarti ($4.75).