Fish Fries

The Tao of fried fish. We attach meaning to our ritual beer batters and potato pancakes. We’re protective and loyal, even defensive of our fries. Our fries. We play favorites. In short, fish fries are an area where strangers to tradition should tread warily. That’s why we took an armed forces approach to capturing some citadels of the all-important fry. Like we did in March 1994, the last time we slogged through the hot grease, the whole editorial team joined the mission, trolling the city, the burbs and outlying areas. One thing you’ll notice as you retrace our steps here…

The It List

Lately I’ve been getting this baffling question from John (and Jeanette) Q. Diner: “Isn’t the Milwaukee restaurant scene pretty much the same from year to year?” While it’s true you’ll see some familiar names on our top restaurants list – isn’t stability a good thing? – change is always in the air. Remember when Mexican dining amounted to Acapulco and Conejitos? And you had to drive to Chicago for Indian food? Now you need to pore over your Mexican choices (it’s daunting out there), and you can practically pick a side of town and find an Indian restaurant. Locationally, the…

Budget Dining

“Oh my God, you’ve got to hear this!” That’s often the way a restaurant anecdote starts when people feed me their leftovers – the where-and-what-they-ate dining experiences. It usually has a familiar refrain: “And the bill! I stopped breathing when I saw how high it was.” It’s not that we’re obsessively cheap. It’s that we appreciate value. And I don’t care where you go – to George Webb or Sanford – people do not like to feel ripped off. If they can eke out a little more for the money by using a page ripped out of a restaurant coupon…

Ethni-city

One Sunday afternoon, I gazed on tables of Asian-American teens, shoulders hunched, heads bent over bowls of soup that at this particular restaurant — Phan’s Garden — is known as “pho.” The warm, comforting meal, eaten with plastic chopsticks, appeared to be their ritual. At a Mexican restaurant, the ritual might be caldo de pescado — fish soup. At a Middle Eastern place, it could be bowls of bright-orange lentil soup. Gastronomic diversity is all around us, but to jump in and be a participant is numbing when it feels like taking steps on billowy air. You don’t know what…