Exterior of Valhalla restaurant and bar in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is Finally Getting a Scandinavian Restaurant

Get your Viking on! Lefse, pickled herring and Swedish meatballs are coming to Milwaukee.

This is music to a pickled herring-loving Milwaukeean’s ears. Bar-restaurant Valhalla (1111 N. Old World Third St., 414-249-3046; located next next door to Brick3 Pizza) is open… in a limited capacity. Which means they’re serving drinks, like Thor’s Hammer, and a limited food menu. The grand opening is Saturday April 15, when hopefully you will truly be able to eat like a Viking. (Incidentally, in Norse mythology “Valhalla” is a hall where slain heroes would go – a kind of afterlife.)

A limited menu of food offerings is in effect right now. From that, you can get a cucumber salad; pickled vegetables; Swedish meatballs with gravy, served over egg noodles; and breaded cheese curds (Valhalla is owned by the same people who run nearby Wisconsin Cheese Mart) ($3-$8).

There are also sandwiches (called smorrebrods) rolled in lefse, which is a Norwegian potato flatbread that’s served either sweet or savory. There’s a version made with Wisconsin ham, Jarlsberg and Muenster and Swedish lingonberry preserves; a toasted lefse served with sweetened whipped butter, honey, Nutella and lingonberry preserves; and a Copenhagen dog – an extra-long hot dog topped with fried crunchy onions, raw onions, house-made pickles, ketchup, mustard and remoulade ($3-$8.50).

Embrace the culture further by drinking aquavit – a distilled liquor which has a different flavor depending on the Scandinavian country that produces it (in Finland, it’s cinnamon; in Denmark, it’s caraway). Valhalla cocktails utilize aquavit, including the aforementioned Thor’s Hammer (a shot of aquavit in an energy drink) and Hel’s Fire, a Bloody Mary made with Reyka vodka and Gamle Ode dill aquavit.

Hours (likely to change): Thurs-Fri 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sat-Sun noon-2 a.m.

And this week on This Bites on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, DJ/food man-par-excellence Tarik Moody and I talk about Valhalla, as well as some upcoming events like the Milwaukee Oyster Roast on April 1 and Sprezzatura’s popup cocktail dinner on April 2. Stream that segment here!




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.