Camino is another reason Walker’s Point is a strong point of reference.
Fifteen years ago, a joint called The Social was one reason the fickle dining masses were converging on a neighborhood of curious and pretty old storefronts called Walker’s Point. Back then, Elsa’s on Jefferson Street constituted upscale bar food. The Social knit together a couple of rarities – the bar area doubled as the kitchen, and the “bar food” featured things like mac and goat cheese with rosemary and roast chicken, and an Alsatian kraut dish called choucroute.
Advance to the winter of 2016. Camino has taken over this space, and that cooktop-behind-the-bar shtick is still in use – not to change the rulebook on bar food, but simply to craft a tasty counterpart to the 20 taps and other alcoholic potables. Simple with a subtle punch works well, such as the fried cheese curds encased in rye breading and served with Russian dressing ($8).
The menu in toto stays in two-fister land. The burger, topped with fried onions and American cheese, is especially good on Mondays when it’s only five bucks. Although the bread is basic, the fillings for sandwiches like the grilled kimcheese (American, provolone, Swiss and, yes, Korean pickled cabbage – i.e. kimchee, $6) and the Brussels sprout grinder (a fried sprout sandwich with cheddar, apple and walnut butter, $7) are not. Leave your inhibitions at the door, your breath mints in your pocket, and a grilled spicy Polish with horseradish cream, tomato and kraut in your hand ($7). It all sounds attractively cheap, right? But “à la carte” is the order of business. It’s worth it to spend extra $2-$3 for the beer-cheese soup (capped with fried Brussels sprouts) or thick chorizo and bean chili.
With Morel next door to Camino – and Movida, Anodyne Coffee, Milwaukee Brewing Co. and other businesses nearby – “sleepy” Walker’s Point is wide-awake indeed.
Camino 434 S. Second St., 414-800-5641. Hours: Daily lunch, dinner; Sat-Sun brunch. Prices: $6-$13. Service: Fast ’n’ friendly. Reservations: Nah.