Rice N Roll Bistro

2017 Readers’ Choice Awards: Regional/Cultural Fare

The best of Milwaukee’s melting pot


Nola BBQ shrimp, blackened catfish po’ boys and chicken-fried chicken with tasso gravy sealed No. 1 Maxie’s victory yet again. (6732 W. Fairview Ave.)
2. Crawdaddy’s (9427 W. Greenfield Ave.)
3. The Brass Alley (1023 N. Old World Third St.)


Emperor of China has held its royal status for another year. Loyalists like the egg drop soup, lo mein and moo shu chicken. Some diners advise asking for the traditional Chinese menu, which lists less pedestrian things like sauteed bok choy and salt and pepper shrimp. (1010 E. Brady St.)
2. Jing’s (207 E. Buffalo St., first floor)
3. Peking House (782 N. Jefferson St.) [Ed. note: Now closed]

Photo by Adam Ryan Morris

The Village of Tosa’s powerhouse Le Rêve Patisserie & Café owns this one, offering elegant dinners of steak au poivre and bouillabaisse. At different times of day (and they serve breakfast to dinner Mon-Sat), there is the lure of quiche, duck confit crepes, a salade nicoise or bistro burger. The exquisite case of French pastries and desserts is also temptingly set near the entrance. (7610 Harwood Ave.)
2. Lake Park Bistro (3133 E. Newberry Blvd.)
3. Pastiche Bistro & Wine Bar (Hotel Metro, 411 E. Mason St., 4313 W. River Lane Rd.)


The major change to this category is the absence of the late Karl Ratzsch, which battled Mader’s for dominance in every survey. Now it’s up to the 115-year-old Old World Third Street restaurant to carry the Teutonic torch with its pork shank washed down with a boot of Spaten beer. Readers also call out Mader’s German sampler of Wiener schnitzel, sauerbraten, kasseler rippchen (cured pork) with dumpling, sauerkraut and red cabbage. (1041 N. Old World Third St.)
2. Kegel’s Inn (5901 W. National Ave.)
3. Bavarian Bierhaus (700 W. Lexington Blvd.)


At 20-year-old East Sider Maharaja, the reigning No. 1, fans point to variety. Tandoori meats, lots of vegetarian stews and specialties from southern India (stuffed crepes, soups, rices and dals) and a well-maintained buffet that operates every day (brunch-style on weekends). (1550 N. Farwell Ave.)
2. Cafe India Bar & Grill (605 S. First St., 414-224-5444; 2201 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.)
3. Bollywood Grill (1038 N. Jackson St.)

Photo courtesy of Ristorante Bartolotta

Joe Bartolotta’s first business venture, way back in 1993, was Ristorante Bartolotta, whose kitchen for the last 15 years has been the domain of executive chef Juan Urbieta. The tried-and-true menu of standards – beef carpaccio, pappardelle with duck ragu, roasted “brick-style” chicken – is what nostalgia lovers come for. But seasonal flair (cuttlefish ink pasta with mussels; beef porterhouse with porcinis and black truffles)? There’s a special menu for that. (7616 W. State St.)
2. Tenuta’s (2995 S. Clement Ave.)
3. Zarletti (741 N. Milwaukee St.)


A small, efficient space accented by bamboo, Rice N Roll Bistro mentions its bread-and-butter right in the name. Known primarily for traditional and creative rolls, sushi and sashimi, this place also keeps the kitchen busy with Thai dishes such as drunken noodles and
fusion plates such as crisp fiery fish. (1952 N. Farwell Ave.)
2. Fujiyama (2916 S. 108th St., 17395D W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield)
3. Izumi’s (2150 N. Prospect Ave.)


Café Corazon has found the formula for success – delicious, affordable tortilla-based cuisine served by fun, funky staff in a comfortable, retro Day of the Dead setting. Margaritas are tart and stiff, and the menu is omnivorously smart. They also use beef sourced from the owners’ family farm. Win-win. (3129 N. Bremen St., 2394 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.)
2. BelAir Cantina (five locations)
3. La Casa de Alberto (624 W. National Ave., 414-643-5715)


Hello Falafel. Photo by Paul John Higgins

Casablanca is two floors, making a strong visual impact from the street. Run by the Musa family since 1987, the business has grown from a small enterprise, known for tender falafel and beef shawarma, to the enormous space, offering DJ-spun music, hookahs, a daily vegetarian lunch buffet (weekend brunch buffet, too) and the most extensive Middle Eastern menu in town. (728 E. Brady St.)
2. Hello Falafel (2301 S. Howell Ave.)
3. Aladdin (Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St., 414-271-0400)


Generous portions of well-priced, satisfying meals like meatloaf, barbecued ribs and catfish gave Daddy’s Soul Food Grille the nod from voters. Coming this fall is a spread of Southern breakfast foods served buffet-style. Daddy’s has also built a following for its fried chicken and waffles. (754 N. 27th St., 414-448-6165)
2. Mr. Perkins’ Family Restaurant (2001 W. Atkinson Ave., 414-447-6660)
3. Stella J’s (7434 W. Capitol Dr., 414-393-2045)


Opening a Tosa location in fall 2016 has surely raised the visibility of Thai-namite, which offers some of its most tantalizing items in the form of curries, highly seasoned volcano dishes and noodles like pad thai (three locations)
2. King & I (830 N. Old World Third St., 414-276-4181)
3. EE-Sane (1806 N. Farwell Ave., 414-224-8284)


Many diners’ familiarity and comfort level with this cuisine comes from trend foods like the ubiquitous banh mi sandwich. Hue serves up the wider cuisine trend in a mainstream, approachable way, with a happy hour, tiki drinks and a Vietnamese-style Friday fish fry – turmeric-marinated, beer-battered swai fish. (2691 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 6519 W. North Ave., Tosa)
2. Pho Viet (5475 S. 27th St., 414-282-8852)
3. Mekong Café (5930 W. North Ave.)

2017 Readers' Choice Awards


2017 Readers’ Choice Awards

Our readers said what? Our annual dining survey is at its revealing best. You’ll want to know the results!



‘2017 Readers’ Choice Awards’ appears in the September 2017 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning August 28, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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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.