The Best New Restaurants in Milwaukee

​​These five new spots have risen to the top of the ranks. 


1. Lupi & Iris 

777 N. VAN BUREN ST. | 414-293-9090 

Shortly after this modern, Riviera-inspired resto opened in May of last year, I strolled inside on my first visit and tried to stop my jaw from dropping. I expected this, former Bartolotta Restaurants chef Adam Siegel’s first place of his own, would be big. And yet the dazzling space – modern, glowing, with a balanced flow – caught me off-guard. Then there was the food – refined in a less-is-more sort of way. It’s as intentional and precise as the interior design. After the chaos of the last few years, this couldn’t have come at a better time.

What to order: tarte au chevre, corzetti with walnut sauce, swordfish, roasted veal chop. ($$$-$$$$)

Lupi & Iris; Photo by Marty Peters


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2. Lebnani House 

5051 S. 27TH ST., GREENFIELD | 414-488-8033 

Here’s another example of culinary elevation, done with care and feeling. In this bright, colorful room (the centerpiece is a faux tree with cascading flowers), diners are treated to a wealth of specialties – some familiar, but many not – from the Middle East. The execution is superb, the prices are fair, portions are generous. This is simply one of my favorite openings of the last year.

What to order: Armenian lahmeh bil ajin, eggplant and beef sajiyyeh, chicken shawarma, kafta with tahini. ($-$$)

Lebnani House’s eggplant and beef fatteh, grilled kafta with tahini, kubbeh; Photo by Chris Kessler

3. Saffron Modern Indian Dining 

223 N. WATER ST. | 414-539-4980 

Our perception of Indian cuisine has been of a casual concept serving a rote menu of meats and vegetables in similarly spiced sauces all eaten with rice. We were more than ready for a redefinition, and Saffron obliges. This place values the whole experience – froufy cocktails sipped at the white quartz bar, heady, aromatic dishes eaten at deep blue upholstered banquettes. Dynamic flavors and quality ingredients dictate, though the portions on some dishes can be a little skimpy.

What to order: spinach chaat, lamb biryani, tandoori grilled prawns. ($$$) 

Butter chicken from Saffron; Photo by Aliza Baran

4. Noche Restaurante & Bar 

6601 NORTHWAY, GREENDALE | 414-246-2002 

This ambitious undertaking – it has a dual identity as a daytime cafe called Dia – celebrates the cuisines of South and Central Americas and the Caribbean, and changes its menu quarterly to reflect three different countries in those regions. The head chef is from El Salvador, and sous chef is from the Dominican Republic. This winter, the DR was one of the featured countries, and they pulled off a great menu, the best examples being the Dominican short ribs with creamed taro root  and red wine reduction, and the coffee-rubbed steak chimichurri with red beans and rice.

What to order: tapas (like Chilean shrimp salad), and larger “platos” of specialties such as sancocho, a Dominican beef and smoked pork stew. ($$-$$$)

Photo courtesy of Dia Café Y Noche Restaurante

5. Buttermint Finer Dining & Cocktails 

4195 N. OAKLAND AVE., SHOREWOOD | 414-488-2587 

Black Shoe Hospitality group (of Maxie’s and Blue’s Egg fame) took a gamble in this space. In late 2021, when we still weren’t feeling quite back to normal (whatever that is), Black Shoe birthed this modern homage to 1960s-era fine dining. The prices are 2023, but there’s nothing stuffy about the ambiance, and the food has some definite delights.

What to order: crispy chicken XO, oysters Rockefeller, tempura squash salad, fresh fish entrées (mahi mahi, swordfish). ($$$-$$$$)

Deviled eggs and hiramasa crudo; Photo by Tom Grimm


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s March issue.

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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.