These 5 New Latin Restaurants Reflect Milwaukee’s Culinary Melting Pot

Call it tropical, new Latin fusion. These restaurants are helping broaden our palates.

The cuisines of Latin America have been in the national “trending” news for years now, but here these cooking styles are part of the fabric of our melting-pot culture. While the taco craze is still going strong (Laughing Taco is up to three locations), we’ve got a spate of new places that draw influences from across the Western Hemisphere. Use this map to take a culinary tour of eight different regions, without ever leaving Milwaukee.

1) Laughing Taco

Co-owner Lucia Muñoz-Carlisle’s hometown of Monterrey, Mexico is the inspiration for the menu of tacos filled with meat or veggies (3 locations, including Fiserv Forum and Crossroads Collective, 2238 N. Farwell Ave.).

2) Sabor Tropical

Mashed, fried green plantains in Creole sauce, Cuban ropa vieja (braised beef with peppers) and slow-roasted pork pay homage to Cuba and Puerto Rico (2258 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.).

3) Cocina 1022

Picaditas (fried masa cakes inspired by those from Guerrero, Mexico) are specialties of this kitchen, as is molcajete (mixed grill, which is similar to Argentinian parrilladas). (1022 S. First St.)

4) Tavo’s

The tiny kitchen (at 5814 W. Bluemound Rd.) is skillful with Mexican moles, including Oaxacan mole rojo. The chef also incorporates yuca (popular in Cuba, native to Puerto Rico) and plantains (staples of Central America and the Caribbean) into Tavo’s fusion-y menu.

5) Antigua

It has new, larger digs (6207 W. National Ave.), but Antigua still spotlights creations from all over Latin America, like Ecuadoran shrimp in coconut sauce, Peruvian lomo saltado and Argentinian empanadas.

“South of the Border” appears in the February 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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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.